A Florida native with a love for art, Lauren Ytterbom has followed her creative passions from Italy to New York to Sweden and all the way back to the Sunshine State. For as long as she can remember, Lauren’s life has been interwoven with art—creative writing, dance, drawing, music, painting, film. She even attended a fine arts magnet high school in Jacksonville, Florida, and studied the fine arts at Flagler College in her future home of St. Augustine, Florida. Years down the road, while she was studying in New York City and working as a creative arts therapist, Lauren finally found the medium that would become her calling.
“My interest in ceramics blossomed while I was getting my master’s degree at NYU in 2012,” she recalls. “I fell in love with throwing [pottery] and it became my creative outlet.”
Several years later in 2016, while she was living in Sweden with her husband, this creative outlet became something more. “During that year, I spent some time in Copenhagen, Denmark, and had the opportunity to attend an intensive ceramic workshop under Eric Landon of Tortus [a famous Danish pottery studio ],” Lauren explains. “I met a really great handful of artists, and I think it was encouraging moments and conversations I took away from that experience that gave me the final push to go for it.”
She and her husband relocated to St. Augustine, where she set to work founding Lauren Ytterbom Ceramics. With a clean, classic-meets-contemporary aesthetic, Lauren’s pieces attract lovers of modern design as well as traditional form. A glance through her collection is a study in minimalist perfection: soft, matte colors paired with simple yet stunning accents. Each one is beautiful, functional, and handmade in an extensive process taken on with the utmost attention to detail. And at each step of this process, it’s Lauren’s hands—and only her hands—that guide each mug, tumbler, plate, vase, or bowl.
“My business is a one-woman shop,” she explains. “Every piece I make on the wheel starts as a lump of clay and evolves— wedging, coning and centering, pulling walls and shaping.”
“That Christmas morning feeling you get when you open the kiln to see your final work never gets old.”
A piece is thrown on the wheel, then spends hours drying before Lauren starts trimming and refining. From there, the finished piece is left to dry for up to a few days. Once it reaches the “bone-dry stage,” it goes in the kiln, where it’s fired for the first time (which can take up to 24 hours). Then Lauren adds the glaze before firing the piece for a second time.
“The Christmas morning feeling you get when you open the kiln to see your final work never gets old,” she says of the intricate process. “I love it!”
And that love of the craft drives Lauren’s constant quest for new techniques to master, materials to incorporate, and partnerships to form. Whether by exploring new base materials or finding ways to bring wood, leather, or recycled fabrics into her designs, Lauren is constantly pushing herself.
“I don’t limit myself to one clay body or material,” she says. “As soon as I start to feel comfortable with one particular glaze or combination, that’s an indication that it’s time to switch things up and continue to evolve my work.” Lauren keeps her creative instinct on its proverbial toes by working with local businesses and artists. In recent years, she’s provided dinnerware for restaurants Catch 27 and Ice Plant Bar; partnered with The Kookaburra Coffe to provide handmade latte mugs and espresso cups; crafted a honeypot for small-batch honey maker Stubbees; and teamed up with St. Augustine-based artists, like Jenna Alexander and Anna Núñez, to collaborate on new and distinctive product lines.
“I’ve always referred to St. Augustine as a gem of the South,” Lauren says of her chosen hometown. “I’m influenced by the creative collective here and the way this community truly values and supports local artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs.” With the support of her community, it’s clear that Lauren’s creative energy is flourishing, and this one-woman shop isn’t slowing down anytime soon.