ÀSHWORKS is a concrete home decor brand based in Jakarta, Indonesia started by two artists: a sculptor and a painter. Cassandra Louise and Zahra Athaya studied abroad, Cassandra studied communications in Melbourne, Australia and Thaya studied technical arts in London. They both came back to their hometown in Jakarta and met through a mutual friend in 2016.  From there, the foundation of their partnership was to create accessible art and in this case, they decided to focus on the home. The result was stunning. Concrete is a material not ordinarily thought of as a material for home decor, but they have developed a technique that combines their two talents, sculpture and painting. The color palettes are stunning and the forms are minimalistic yet chic.

Here we talk with Cassandra and Zahra about their partnership and how they have developed their lovely brand…

What drew you into the world of concrete decor?

During the time that we met, Thaya was introduced to Cassandra as a sculptor and Cassandra was introduced to her as a painter. We clicked right away discussing how hard it is to sell our artworks in Indonesia. Indonesians love and appreciate art but they don’t necessarily purchase art. We wanted to continue our passion and create artworks for a living, but it was so hard to get by. After brainstorming for a while, we decided that the best thing for us to do is to join together to produce affordable, functional artworks. How we got into doing concrete decor took a while.

We were discussing our core values as a person and how similar those values are. We talked about how much we feel at home when we are creating artworks (wherever in the world) and that lead to our definition of a home. àsh.’s definition of a home is a place where you can be naked physically and emotionally. A place where you can be 100% you. A place of non-perfection and total acceptance. A place where the absurdities of the day can be shared, unchecked and unfiltered, without remorse. A place of total comfort, a place where you are treated with dignity and respect. A place where you feel safe and deserving, even on the worst days. A place that pushes you to be the best version of you.

This life principle is held dear by us and is important in the way we live and work. Since our main inspiration is our concrete values, why not make it literal and make concrete artworks? Both of us want to inspire a greater appreciation of what you bring to your home and what you build in your home. We want to be a leading example on how to perform the ethics of style (the way one think and create), by making great design that are influenced by one’s own values. Each of our products are authentically sculpted by us to become an art piece, so we make sure that no product is the same. This process celebrates imperfection and ensure that each piece is unique.

What is your creative process like?

As a brand, we focus on the personal aspects of all of our clients and customers. Due to the fact that no product is 100% the same, no colour palette is the same for all of our collaborations. We create different colour palettes for different brands to be sold only (personally) at their store. We interview brands and ask about their story, what are their objectives, what is their colour palette and why? From there, we create mood boards based on our interpretations and create colour pigments, especially for them. The best thing about this process is that, we get to learn something new every single time. Everyone and every brand has a story (including us), and being able to turn their stories visually into artworks is what being an artist is all about. We get to interact closely with owners and customers because they could relate to the colour tones we produced. It’s like creating our own zodiac signs through colours, “I buy them because they are so me”.

What are you inspired by now?

àsh. is always inspired by nature. We look for earthy visuals, mostly coastal lines as our inspirations for colour palette and layering. What we love the most about using mother earth as our main inspo is that there will never, ever be a full stop. Volcanoes, gemstones, seasons, flowers, herbs, rock formations and those are the only ones I can think of right now. Our world is so beautiful, full of colours and we always stumble upon beautiful names for our collections. Some of our favourite ones are; Aria (means air in Italian), Afon (river in Welsh), Darya (ocean in Persian), Fleur (flower in French), Gaia (planet in Greek), Lana (little rock in Gaelic).

How is your collection produced?

Thaya loves to experiment using different colour pigments and techniques – and she’s very good at it. Sometimes when she’s done experimenting, she sends Cassandra a picture of the final product and Cassandra always get surprised at how good it is. Every time we create a collection, every single product has to be good enough that we want to keep it for ourselves. We have to produce collections that we would want to buy, because our target market are people like us. People that can relate to the works.

First of all, we find a theme for our collection – e.g. Sea Series. Secondly, we discuss the quantity and the colour palette for each collection. After production, we think of the names most suitable for every set. Finally, and this is the best part of the process, we create their stories based on their colour tone, mood, name, etc. – e.g. “If Darya is a person, what will her/his personality be?”. We enjoy this part of the process because it allows us to be personal. Every person have both positive and negative traits and we expose that in the stories. We want our customers to feel okay, or at home with themselves. “You can still be an artpiece even if you are not perfect”.

What does a typical day in your studio look like?

Tough one. A typical day in the studio would be waking up, packaging products, delivering products to customers, creating pre-orders, consuming gallons of coffee, making invoices, meeting potential clients, pouring concrete, sanding, drying, admin work, mixing pigments, experimenting, researching, playing with Thaya’s cat, feeding Thaya’s cat, feeding ourselves… so much to do, so little time.