Of all our daily rituals, the one we’ll never tire of is that first sip of hot coffee to welcome a new day. The simple steps of grinding the beans, measuring the water, and tidying up the kitchen as the coffee brews is a grounding practice that brings calm to our mornings. For many years, we’ve poured our coffee into handmade ceramic tumblers made by Ernie Lee, the founder of Los Angeles Clay Company.

Informed by simple Japanese design, his pieces elevate simple shapes with the skill of an artist who embraces the imperfections inherent in his craft. So, we couldn’t be more excited to introduce our Casa Zuma x LA Clay collaboration this month, with four special pieces that we use daily: the Large Solstice Mug, Small Solstice Mug, Sharing Bowl, and Sharing Platter. These are hardworking, everyday pieces that we use everyday, and we couldn't be more excited to finally see them out in the world.



In celebration of our launch, we visited Ernie at his incredible outdoor studio in Los Angeles as he finished the first run of our collection. Read on for a look inside Ernie’s creative process, and the daily rituals that keep him energized and inspired.

What's something you’re committed to doing every single day?

Everyday I allow myself to have a slow morning. A coffee and some time to organize the prioritize the tasks for the day. Having a home studio means the work is always here so I find it important to never allow it to consume me or the space. 


How does the design of your space reflect your priorities? 

The studio is so connected to the flow of our small home. It’s truly a live work space that transitions from a full ceramic studio and glaze kitchen to our primary entertaining and living space. Clean, simple and smart was the goal when designing the flow of the space without having it  be visually consuming. So similar to philosophy  behind the ceramic pieces we make for our customers. 

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at the studio?

Usually organize. Each piece we make requires set up and prep, so looking at the order sheets and figuring out the most efficient way to have the day flow is step one. 


How do you keep yourself energized throughout the day?

Music is the fuel for me throughout the day. And I’m always fishing for new sounds and beats to fill the space. An eclectic mix for sure ranges from Bob Marley to Euro post punk 80s splashed with Fleetwood Mac to trance euphoria. I’m all over the place with the music flow. 

Where do you turn for inspiration when you’re feeling creatively blocked?

I just begin to play when I feel stuck. It’s a simple as that. Just like the first time I ever touched plastic clay in college. It responded immediately and I loved that. Working in clay is still inspiring and never forced for me. I can’t remember ever feeling blocked creatively during my ceramic journey.


What’s the best spot in your studio?

Depends on the season and time of day. The morning light in the main studio is always fantastic. The sunlight drips through the giant oak tree and splashes on the gravel yard. The parrots and squirrels are always busy in the morning which is entertaining to watch. The glaze kitchen in the late afternoon is another spot I love, especially when it’s full of hundreds of glazed pre fired pieces waiting to get loaded into the kiln. 


You need to unwind after a long day. What’s your go-to method?

My unwind time is for sure at the golf course. It’s the place that allows me to completely change gears from the creative ceramic studio focus to the insatiable game and challenge I so enjoy. I find ceramics and golf fantastically similar—they both require you to deal with the moment and strive for perfection while also knowing it will never happen. 

What's your favorite time of day and why?

I enjoy most every time of the day, but the moment I complete a task or project is my favorite. It could be the complicated task of fulfilling a huge order and getting it shipped off or as simple as watering the garden. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment when a project is completed which allows me to move onto the next.