I see Yasmin running in and out of her studio with the kind of calm focus that stirs envy in the less inspired. The kind of presence of mind that comes from a deep connectedness to one’s work… one’s day. Naturally, I wanted to see what she did and found my way into her world – a garden studio in the Hinterhaus of our buzzing Kreuzberg building.
Yasmin Bawa is an artist who creates sculptures, furniture and interior spaces with a focus on experimenting with natural materials. She’s interested in how these can be used in ways that really elevate simple materials and make them into a very beautiful, tactile experience of the material.
Bolstered by a background in design, she moved away from designing shoes for Acne and accessories for various European design houses towards playing with a curious material called hempcrete. Her instinct though, has paid off, having just completed a sizeable order for Lanvin’s store in Paris.
“When you think of hemp you think of this rough, hard texture, not necessarily beautiful… wanting to change that perception is part of the concept.”
N: But why hemp?
YB: I’d been wanting to get into sculpture, interior, wanting to build myself and had begun with concrete. For my own health I didn’t like having my hands in concrete though … even with protection, they were so dry. It’s also well known that the concrete industry is one of the largest polluters and the combination had me wondering if I really wanted to be using this material…did I want to be making objects from it, would you want to have it in your home?
Also poetically… I like this idea of poetics of space… and concrete didn’t fit into that idea. This material called hempcrete then fell my way. The name itself caught my attention first. At that moment I had been putting pumice stones in the concrete to be able to mould it, as opposed to pouring concrete. The hempcrete is added to a lime binder which was what I was already doing with these stones. So when I found the material it couldn’t have been more perfect… it’s natural and already in the same line of what I was already doing with the concrete. It’s taken a lot of experimentation and I’m still figuring out the material.
N: What is it about your day that is so fulfilling? Is it fulfilling?
YB: It’s absolutely fulfilling.
N: If you had to pinpoint exactly what made it so amazing, could you?
YB: Being creative with my hands all day, every day. It’s my creative outlet, the reason I’m sane. I spend at least a couple of hours a day in the flow state… it’s my creative outlet, my sanity, my therapy. I don’t know if I could ask for anything better than being creative with my hands. That’s what I had strived for. In the beginning I still did some freelance work in fashion until I could just be creative with my hands all the time.
N: So what did you do in fashion before?
YB: I was a shoe designer (for Acne) and later accessories, like sunglasses too. It also had a sculptural aspect to it and I realized that working in 3D form was what I found really interesting. In fashion you just don’t have the time to develop what you want to develop.
Now I can work just one to one with the 3D space. I mean I don’t start with drawings or prototypes, which is amazing.
“Being creative with my hands all day, everyday. It’s the reason I’m sane. I spend at least a couple of hours a day in the flow state...it’s my creative outlet, my sanity, my therapy.”
N: Where do you glean inspiration?
YB: I’m always researching… reading about building techniques, architectural techniques, especially historical ones.
These techniques are old and every place had its own way of building using local materials and stemming from their particular needs. I research a lot of that and it has an influence on how I make things. This idea of poetics of space… and the text itself is my biggest inspiration.
N: Yasmin, thanks for always making time and space for us. Tell me, did you like the scarf you got from the shoot?
YB: I love it! I have not taken it off since the day I got it.
N: Can I quote you on that?
YB: Yes! It’s the truth!
Find her art at: