CHRIS BROCK IN OJAI, CALIFORNIA, DECEMBER 2016. STYLING: ANDREAS KOKKINO. T-SHIRT AND JUMPSUIT: HERMÈS MEN’S SPRING/SUMMER 2017. SHOES: BROCK’S OWN. GROOMING: LILLY KEYS USING TIGI BEDHEAD AND DR. HAUSCHKA/EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS MANAGEMENT.
Chris Brock’s pottery studio is a stainless steel 1949 Schult trailer nestled within the oak groves of Ojai, California. It’s detached from the house he shares with lauded interior designer Paul Fortune, his husband and aesthetic psychopomp, and he describes the trailer, without a touch of irony, as his “heavenly sanctuary.” It’s been a little over three years since Brock and Fortune traded their Laurel Canyon home for Ojai, with its art galleries and fading bohemianism, and Brock speaks of the move as his conversion moment. “Oh God, have you been to L.A.?” he asks in mock horror. “If I saw one more red carpet unroll on the sidewalk, I was going to have an attack.”
Before the move, Brock ran a successful gardening and floral business in Los Angeles but found himself adrift upon first arriving in Ojai, so he sought out painting and ceramics classes. “They were both too frustrating and really tough,” he says, “but I decided to stick to one, and so I took the pots. Initially, I wanted to make rather refined Deco pieces—that was my inspiration, the ’30s and Deco shapes.” He worked with a mentor for the first year to establish his technical skill with the coiling method, but he credits Fortune with helping him refine his aesthetic. The results are rugged but recognizable Deco forms seemingly excavated from an Etruscan archeological site: earth-toned pottery dappled with powdery blues and sanguine reds.
This past September, Brock took the personal project public when he debuted, and sold out, 30 or so of those pots at the Hollywood flagship store of clothing designer and longtime friend Rick Owens. “It broke my heart, it was so beautiful and perfect, and exactly where I wanted to be,” Brock says. “It’s a dream.” Since then, Brock has been fielding requests to replicate the one-of-a-kind pieces snatched up at the event, but agreeing only to make similar, not exact, pots.
Back in this studio, the self-described “opera queen” contemplated how to handle the attention his slow, spiritual pursuit has suddenly drawn. “With appreciation and humility,” Brock proclaimed. “There really is no other way.”