Water shortage is one of the world’s most pressing problems (see Water Works – 24 March 2011). Through her company, Bib&Sola, Kira Heuer has created a stunning collection of hand-blown Venetian glass artworks in support of The ONE Foundation, which works to develop pump water systems in rural Malawi. Kira talks to Lawfully Chic about the inspiration for her collection and what she aims to achieve.
From where do you draw inspiration for your pieces?
Four words come to mind when I go about aesthetics: elegance, timeless, purity and fun. The subject of water and the great problems so many people have attaining the resource is a heavy subject, so it was important for me to design something that would strike a cord with people and be palpable. My hope to inspire them to become more aware of water and its many woes. The MARTA collection is inspired by the grace and resilience of women water-bearers throughout the world combined with my love of art. Although art has a very powerful voice, I wanted to go back to basics and remember the paint sets from when I was a child and make swishes of colour into the glass. Trying to keep it light and playful, yet the form of the actual set is very much an ode to these women and their plight made all the more poignant by a certain resignation.
Why has it been important to you to work with the ONE Foundation?
Their transparency and the way the organisation is set up is very sound. So many of the non-profits, charities, organisations and foundations do not have the understanding of the politics, funding, economies and issues, not to mention the greed factor. It was very saddening and daunting discovering this through the process of setting up the company. Because Bib&Sola contributes 10% of profits to aid water woes, I wanted to donate to a foundation that really makes a difference. I am not looking to be a band-aid; I am looking to help people that can make a real difference. There is so much in understanding how we can empower people rather then just give them hand-outs. They do not want out hand-outs; they want to create a good life for themselves.
What was the biggest challenge in setting up your own business?
The manufacturing! The sets are incredibly difficult to make. In fact, I was told by one glass-blowing company this could not be done, and six other companies’ attempts proved him right! The way the glass colour spreads inside the clear glass is completely uncontrollable so you do not know what the colour will do. Not to mention, I had a certain look in mind of very thin glass, keeping it elegant, which is also difficult. After many tries with many different glass blowers, I found Angelo, who has an extraordinary gift. I am completely inspired every time I watch him. I am so pleased as each one is its own creation.
Oh so many! For now, I am learning as much as I can about the water woes that we face and how to best empower people who suffer greatly on a daily basis. The more I learn, the more I realise how complicated this is. I have a great love for Art and believe it has the ability to make powerful statements in a very creative way. I have created this collection to act as a blank canvas to connect aesthetics with ethics. I will be collaborating with artists, designers and writers to produce their own creations on my blank carafe. These will be collectible limited editions and a percentage of the proceeds will go to a cause of their choosing or to alleviate the water crisis.
Any tips for other young entrepreneurs?
Get everything in writing – every little conversation you have. I learned this the hard way. Be willing to go the extra mile, EVERY TIME. Ask lots of questions and do not compromise on quality or integrity…. and most importantly, keep your sense of humour in tact!