A Conversation with Interior Designer, Katrīna Kucane, on Graduating during Lockdown and Maintaining Her Practice

A Conversation with Interior Designer, Katrīna Kucane, on Graduating during Lockdown and Maintaining Her Practice

How Interior Design Graduate coped with completing her course and progressing her professional practice after graduation during national and international lockdowns, forced bubbling, and self-isolation.

With the UK swinging back to a new normality, I’ve asked some of the artists we work with through the LEWIS Foundation about graduating and maintain a studio art or design practice during the multiple lockdowns. I had one such conversation with Katrīna Kucane, who is a graduate of the BA (Hons) Interior Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Art, whom I included in the 2020-2021 annual Team LEWIS Foundation exhibition at Millbank Tower. The following is our virtual conversation about her motivations, practical knowledge in photography, and examples of her recent film work. I included By sharing this exchange between myself and Katrina, I  hope to increase conversations on the insights and experiences of recent graduates from well-known arts universities in the UK as they transition into professional practices. 

Why did you decide to study Interior Design at Chelsea College of Art? 

In my teenage years, I realised I would leave my hometown as soon as I had the opportunity. I knew that my future profession would never be a 9 to 5 job. It always had to be more than that with a purpose, with an opportunity to express myself and bring something unique to this world. For that reason, moving from a small town in Latvia to the United Kingdom and studying at one of the top Universities, was probably the best decision I made three years ago. Studying Interior Design at the University of the Arts London has allowed me to explore creative sides of me that I never knew I had as well as allow my imagination to flow freely. Of course, it did not always go smoothly and had its ups and downs, but the experience is incomparable to accomplish my dreams. Now in my work, I try to apply expanded skills and, at the same time, seek new ones that would allow me to go above and beyond my limits. It is not an easy task to accomplish, especially during these times, but it is about moving forward, experimenting, passion for art, and doing what I love. 

What is your practice (and/or the work you do now)? 

I would say I don’t have one particular practice at the moment. Since the pandemic has started and I was obligated to finish my final year of university while staying at home, it did take a heavy toll on me. Therefore, at the moment my practice changes constantly and I am trying out things that I did not try before and I realised that my art is capable of spanning in many other directions like painting, montaging short videos, photography, and editing, trying out graphic design and drawing. Nonetheless, I still feel very attached to interior design.

How you make/do your work (job or practice)? 

I believe that a huge part of my practice is photography and mostly just playing around, and see what I can come up with in the end. During my first year in Chelsea College of Arts as a part of our unit, was to recreate a style of one photographer and apply it to the images we took in the surroundings of Chelsea. I enjoyed that a lot and I believe at that moment I found out I have a passion for photography as well. I find it exciting by taking pictures, mirroring, adjusting them, adding or deleting parts, to create an alternate image, that seems out of this world. It allows the viewer to play with its imagination to see and find out what was the original photo of the newly created world.  

On the other hand, if talking about painting, that I have been trying out recently, I do enjoy playing with textures with the help of plaster and then experimenting with acrylic colours, it is one of those activities where I switch my mind off and allow my hand and actions flow freely the same way while I am drawing only in colour and no particular form.

What do you do when you're not working (hobbies or interests)? 

When I’m not working I like to read in my spare time as I do believe it’s quite important to keep your mind busy and feed it with useful knowledge. Especially, in these difficult times, you have to educate yourself and learn new things in any way possible. Besides that I have been enjoying playing video games, it is quite interesting, I had never thought I would enjoy to take part in video games as much as I do now. Not going to lie, it does help to escape reality for a couple of hours and enter a completely new one, where you can do mostly anything. And of course, an occasional walk is a must right now. I came to visit my friends and family back home and whenever the sun shining a walk to the beach for a couple of hours keeps the mind at peace.

What inspires you (in different ways: creative, positive, negative, or general ways)?

I’m not quite sure of what inspires me. Some days I’m not inspired at all, some I’m inspired by everything - the nature, the colours, a moment in a movie, whilst looking out of the window, a cup - the list could go on. But I do believe that most of the time I’m motivated by inner me - thoughts in my head, my mood, the day. It really is a flick of a moment when the inspiration comes. Also, looking at independent artists inspire me to be more creative. It is amazing what a creative mind can envision, it is so divergent.  

What problems do you face as a maker/recent graduate? What problems in your practice/work/or related hobby?  

As far as I’m concerned as a maker and a recent graduate it is self-doubt and uncertainty - should I do this, should I make that, would someone actually enjoy it, buy it, am I being as good as the others that are succeeding? This last year has twisted and turned as a crazy rollercoaster twice the amount I had actually expected. Honestly, the biggest problem could actually be to stay inspired and be productive, be willing to take the risk, because this is what I want to do for a living - create. As well as finding ways and opportunities to put myself out there as an independent artist or as an interior designer.

How do you address these problems?

Going for a walk to a forest helps a lot, it’s quite relaxing and helps the mind to wind down for a while. Talking to friends has been a huge help as well, listen to their advice and encouraging words, browsing on the internet looking at other people's work if I need to start up my mind for some inspiration. It depends on how I am feeling in the moment and if I am in effect to do something about it because some days, to tell the truth, it is challenging to push through. Also, I recently started to publish my work online, which does help as a small starting point and works as a motivator to do more.

What works (art or in another field) by others do you find important or significant?

I think that all artwork that is being created is important. People have their own unique way of expressing themselves. Some might like it, some might not. Artists are inspired by other artists' work, it is a deranged chain reaction that has been continuing since the beginning of time. I tend to think that it is always about evolving, growing, and exploring things that you’ve never done or seen before, and take something from it, even if it’s the tiniest amount, and apply it in your own approach. The human mind is capable to create so many things that it would be silly to limit yourself from the opportunities to see beautiful work and dig deeper. 

Age of Collaboration - human, nature and tech (2021)

Biomimicry (2021)

Katrīna continued our conversation about visiting museums as lockdown eases here. 

Please visit these websites to find out more about Team LEWIS Foundation or my professional practice.



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