Kira Heuer

Entrepreneur + Artist

You have to be compelled, because 70 percent of the time, you’re doing stuff that isn’t that fun, but you’re doing it for a really important reason.
MP3 players existed more than two years before Apple introduced the sleek iPod in 2001. Personal computers exploded in popularity when the graphical interfaces of Apple and Windows became the norm, rather than the text code of MS-DOS. Even humanity itself only took off when Adam lost a rib to the more aesthetically-pleasing Eve. If you want something to be popular, no matter how worthy the product, it helps to make it look good.

“As a consumer, I don’t [purchase] anything unless I’m inspired,” says Kira Heuer, the artist and entrepreneur behind the glassware company Bib&Sola. “And if I’m excited to do something, and it engages me aesthetically, it’ll make me do it.”

This is the simplest definition of “aesthetic activism,” the phrase that Kira has coined to sum up her work. By engaging consumers’ sense of beauty, she can also get them to think about the world and inspire them to act. “I look to Aesthetic Activism as a way for us to purchase with an underlying inspired delight; to be part of something greater than us, yet still giving us the satisfaction and pleasure of beautiful products...It’s a way for us to come together as a community through the feeling of empowerment and loving the objects that we purchase.” Aesthetic activism is about awakening the intrinsic values motivating a purchase so that a "must have" accessory is not only stylish, but it becomes something that connects you to a deeper purpose, such as healing Mother Nature. 

“It’s a quick draw,” she says. “The eyeballs can be seduced quickly, and when you see something you’re enticed by, usually you’re seeing it first rather than feeling it or hearing it.” 
Kira initially found her inspiration while at home on vacation in 2010. Her father, a nature lover who instilled a sense of respect for the physical world in his daughter from an early age, gave her a copy of the Water issue of National Geographic. The different stories about water rituals, women water bearers and plastic pollution within the magazine sparked Kira’s interest. Fascinated by what water is as a resource, the effect it has and what it would be like to drink pure water and reconnect to mother nature, she became focused on the relevance of water in our lives and becoming part of a solution to the many issues surrounding access to clean water worldwide.

That solution manifest itself in the form of Bib&Sola (latin for drink and comfort); a series of stunning hand-blown carafes and glasses, with wave-like patterns available in multiple colors. The hope behind each piece is that their beauty will inspire their use, and their use will inspire conscious thought about our relationship with water.

But while the sales of the carafes have allowed Kira to donate money to clean water non-profits like Charity: Water, Drop in the Bucket and Water Aid, she says she was missing a more tangible feeling of achievement . It’s why Bib&Sola’s next step is into water filtration, creating on-the-go filters from natural resources and designing them so that they are as stylish as they are practical.
“We’re not trying to recreate the wheel here,” Kira said. “We’re just going back to what Mother Nature did in the first place. … I look to her as a fashion guru. I look to her as an inspiration. Aesthetically, she’s the original artist.”

If Mother Nature is the artist, Kira is the entrepreneur and the force that keeps the operation running. When she started the company 4 years ago, her inexperience in the field of glassware design, coupled with her sheer determination, played to her advantage when she encountered many glass maestros that said her vessel designs could not be produced.

“Being compelled...is actually where it’s at,” she says. “You keep humble. You learn as much as you can. You have to be compelled, because 70 percent of the time, you’re doing stuff that isn’t that fun, but you’re doing it for a really important reason...Over and over again I was told that [my design] couldn’t be made, and I was stubborn enough to say ‘no, it can.’”

Written by Robert Spuhler Photography by Sara Clarken