The Chronicle

Q. and A.: The Pursuits of Happiness

Photographer and ceramicist April Brimer and entrepreneur Pavel Cherny founded The Pursuits of Happiness to make "household objects that were not only beautiful, but also a bit artful and intriguing," as Brimer puts it. "Each one is a small sculpture, which I hope brings inspiration and makes daily rituals extra-special."

Like their playful mugs and plates, their slim, elegant Voltaire pipe — now available in the shop in Klein blue and rose tipped with gold overglaze, two colors created exclusively in collaboration with Tetra — does precisely that. Here, the Oregon-based couple discuss the genesis of the project, and a few of their favorite things.

What inspired the Voltaire?

Pavel: For years I had been using pieces that were swirly eyesores and I wanted something that could be left on the coffee table without embarrassment. Something that looked good and felt good in your hand. We designed this pipe to be minimal but ultimately functional.

What's inspiring you lately? 

April: The promise of spring, early technicolor cartoons, inventive technology that's humanitarian and/or environmentally focused.

Pavel: Bike rides in the country, minimal design, interesting architecture, and bright primary colors.

What are you listening to in the studio?

Pavel: I like music that keeps me focused. Mostly something with synthesizers; good electronic music, new wave, tropical, and some ambient music. Artists like Sorcerer, Dream chimney, Lindstrom, The Beat Broker, Hatchback.

April: I listen to podcasts mostly. The Moth is my favorite right now. I rotate through all the public radio stuff.

What are you reading?

April: I’m currently reading Patricia Highsmith and T.C. Boyle. I love them but I could use recommendations for something more uplifting!

Pavel: Current events, science, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris.

What will you be wearing this spring?

Pavel: T-shirts. Maybe some shorts if it’s warm enough. I really couldn’t care less.

April: When we’re not in the studio we’re getting out into nature, so we dress accordingly. We're jeans and T-shirt people. 

What's your smoking ritual? 

April: I like to be in a cozy situation sharing a smoke and conversation with close friends.

Pavel: Its best when smoking outdoors. I like going on bike rides or hikes with friends and stopping somewhere with a nice view.