Can you introduce yourself?
I am Faty Ly. It is also the name of my brand. My real name is Fatimata Ly. I am a designer ceramist. I live and work in Dakar. I am passionate about ceramics, art, culture and tradition including the African tradition. I like to somehow revive the tradition through my creations.
Why did you choose this profession?
In the late 90s, I became interested in traditional African art, I read lot of art books especially those published by the Dapper museum.
I took the decision to open an art gallery which quickly turned into handicraft gallery even though I was presenting some pieces of contemporary art. I worked with Senegalese craftsmen.
Living in London at that time, I was commuting between England, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso since I also cooperated with Burkinabe craftsmen.
In Burkina, I worked specifically with a potter, Diénébou Zon. I met her at the International Crafts Fair in Ouagadougou (SIAO). I drew the pieces and then she made the objects for the gallery. Then I became her assistant, I colored the pieces, I sifted the clay and I also baked the objects with her.
I run the gallery for five years and then I decided to stop, tired by the difficulties related to entrepreneurship in Senegal. I was also frustrated not to be able to transmit my drawings correctly. Often the final product did not match the pattern that I made. So I decided to join the design school Central Saint Martin.
I started the design with craftsmanship, that’s why I find the expertise so important. This is crucial to perpetuate the good practices and pass on knowledge.
Today with my brand Fatyly, I found the passion for ceramics and the joys of entrepreneurship.
Have your relatives always supported you in your choice?
Yes in a certain way, I was surrounded by people who loved art. My mother has a very pronounced manual side. She has a gift that allowed her to sew, to do crochet, dyeing inspired by the Malian artisanal dye and also batik. My grandmother loved traditional art of central Africa. She collected pieces like wood sculpture.
My father was a scientific so it was much more difficult for him to accept. He pushed me to study biology. Although I have never worked in this field, biology today helps me for ceramic but also in my passion for cooking. That’s a lot of chemical recipe. This is actually a quite similar laboratory work.
Can you tell me about your work?
Just to understand, Ceramic is baked clay. It represents all decorative items and/ or utilitarian objects that have underwent a processing by the heat which creates pot, plates, vase, etc… The enamelling which come next is a process that allows to glaze the surfaces and to allow sustainable use of these objects.
Today, I work essentially around the art of table, so I combine my creations with my passion for gastronomy. I worked for chocolate makers, English and French experts-chocolates for whom I realized prototypes; which was a major stage to pass in the creation of products of art of table.
Besides, I realized a lamp which is a part of the selection of the Museum of Carouge in 2015. This lamp: Pounding Light was also presented in Inhabitat, the magazine of the green design.
Where did you get your inspiration?
My last collection of plates illustrates portraits of traditional Senegalese women. It is their clothes and their natural elegance that inspire me. Many people think that they are painted or that it is about painting under glass while it is ceramic and more exactly porcelain.
The painting under glass is a particularly popular artistic technique in Senegal and, I think of being impregnated with this culture.
Today I completed the collection with tea set and coffee set. The relieved design will allow a set up of the taste by keeping the traditional inspiration and thus the authentic stamp.
How do you work? What are the stages of your creation?
My creations are not produced in Dakar because the technique of the ceramic is not developed enough.
I begin with the drawing, generally in my studio situated in my house. Then I proceed to the step of vectorization. Drawings are then transmitted to a factory which takes care of transforming drawings; this technique is called the decal; it is about drawings which have a composition which allows them to merge in the enameling of the porcelain in a certain temperature.
And finally, once the drawings are fixed, the plates passed in the oven to bake them in a certain temperature according to the color, the desired color. It is a very important step because the temperature of the oven determines the color. A variation can pull a defect in the color or on the finish object.
What is the step you prefer in term of creation?
I prefer the drawing and the finish product. To see the first prototypes is a very exciting and encouraging step.
The realization of the first plates took me approximately 3 months and their development between 2 and 3 months.
When you start a creation, do you have a clear idea of what you want?
Not at all! When I began my last collection, I drew without final goal. Once satisfied with my drawings and when I considered that they were finished, I decided to make plates.
This product would have been able to remain a decorative object but we made it a utilitarian product, it is the utilitarian art!
What is your touch, your particularity?
I am fascinated by authentic product. I mean tradition and the know-how. I am intrigued by the lifestyle of the Senegalese women of the past generations. I like discovering their lifestyle, I am interested in the stories of the queens of the Waalo for example, as they, in my opinion, had a sophisticated lifestyle and knew certain luxury. I want to revisit and to reinterpret the codes of this luxury in a contemporary way.
Which of your creations do you like the most?
I have just begun so I don’t have any. What’s important to me it is to excel in what I’m doing and to develop myself. The art of table industry is very closed, and what I like it is to challenge myself and to move the Lines?
For each of my creations, my ambition is to propose quality products with a stamp of my own.
Are you involved in associations, groups, collectives with other artists?
No I am not a member of any groups for the moment but I would like to, because I think that the designers in Africa need to unite to show their presence in the world.
Are you interested in other art forms and other forms of culture?
I am interested in many things ranging from fashion to gastronomy, but also cosmetics made from our local products. I realize ceramic jewels and I like discovering the contemporary art of various horizons.