It’s a warm Friday when we visit Yasmin in her Kreuzberg studio, an area in Berlin known for being artistic and eclectic. Her calling: to create sculptures shaped with intuition and a sense of play. The result: a series of beautiful vessels and tables made with hemp.
What is your background in design?
After experimenting with concrete sculpture, I was tired of wearing gloves and wearing a mask because of the toxicity of the materials. My designs were well received so I decided to research new materials that would be healthier for me but also more sustainable for the environment. I was stunned when I discovered tiny houses made of hemp on YouTube and how easy it was to find hemp locally. I sourced my hemp 20km away from Berlin. My designs arise from experimentation with clay and lime.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I like to collect and save things. It can be books, images or small objects. I can get lost in my imagery. But I also get inspiration from my research. I discovered hemp first but now I’m also starting to experiment with seaweed and algae. For me, having a new material is also a source of imagination and inspiration. I’m somewhere between a designer, an artist and a scientist and I couldn’t imagine my job any other way.
What is the process of creating a hemp vessel?
I developed my process through research and experimentation. ‘Hempcrete’ is made by mixing hemp shiv (the woody stem of the industrial hemp plant) together with a clay and lime binder. It takes 4 steps and countless layers to get a piece done.
Step 1: Shape the metal structure
First and foremost, I create the shape with metal wires. Usually I follow my intuition but if it is a special order I can ask what ideas my customer wants – more organic or classic shapes. I don’t like to draw so I design the structure in the space.
Step 2: My own recipe
During my experimentation, I discover a magic combination between hemp, clay and lime. This step is not the most glamorous but is the base of my work. Then it will take approximately 5 to 14 days to air dry. It’s completely natural. The base is made of hempcrete and is completely hand built and free formed making each piece custom and unique. Hemp fibres and fine hemp shiv pieces are used as strengtheners and aggregates in the plasters.
Step 3: Plastering/sanding
Until everything is proportioned and smooth.
Step 4: Finish with oil!
The finishes shown use all natural sealants, oils and polishes. For oiled finishes I use a combination of linseed oil and orange peel oil while polished surfaces require a Moroccan Tadelakt technique. This technique uses 100% pure olive oil soap and a river stone to hand polish the surfaces.
All pieces are available for custom order with a lead time of 4-8 weeks.
A dream of yours?
My dream is to build a house out of hemp and create a residency for artists. We would work together on a community approach.
What is a daily sustainable action that you do?
When I work, I reuse everything. From a small piece of hemp on the floor to the water. In my daily life I use as little plastic as possible, I grow my own veggies and I try to waste as little as possible. I take a lot of inspiration from a friend here in Berlin, Sylvia Conde, who always has cool ideas on how to be sustainable.