“My story starts with an innocent bag of clay and a pair of tools that was given to me and eventually changed my life,” said Nathalie Khayat, the Beirut-based ceramicist that has for decades created artful pieces with a design language of their own.

“Since I started working with clay 25 years ago the fascination never left me,” she explained. “After working for a few years in Canada I came back to Beirut and opened my studio.”

After studying ceramics in Montreal in the 1990s, Khayat opened her studio in 1999 where she currently works and teaches. Since 1995, she has been exhibiting in Montreal, Beirut, South Korea, London and Paris. Her work, whether functional or sculptural, is always based on a vessel form, celebrating daily rituals.

“Throughout the years I was very happy to share my passion with students who gave me a lot in return with their enthusiasm and feedback. We kept going despite Lebanon’s darkest times, hanging on to the idea of making, becoming a community and finding meaning to what we did,” she said.

Finding inspiration in music, rhythm, noise and silence, the designer is presently exploring movement in the objects she is producing, heading towards a raw – or rawer – expression in her work.

“The objects I create, whether functional or not, come from a playful relationship and constant exploration I maintain with clay itself. This same experience can be expressed in a serving dish or a sculpture,” Khayat said. “It will be the result of watching how clay reacts when thick or fragile, how it sounds, how it can be silent, how it can dance or collapse, while responding to a very personal need to express turmoil, stillness, peace, pain or hope, or simply celebrating life and daily rituals.”

Most recently, the ceramicist had the opportunity of spending two years in a Clay Art Center in New York where she was able to play and research while sharing experience with a community of ceramic artists.

“I am currently working on large scale sculptures that will be the result of those amazing years,” she added.