From Paris to Portland, Chicago to Shanghai, ceramicists are spinning up a new batch of tableware that reinvents and challenges the earthenware aesthetics of the 60’s and 70’s: Ceramics are having a global renaissance.
In San Francisco it’s impossible to miss the now ubiquitous Heath Ceramics: their rustic, earth-toned tableware is serving up delicacies at many of the cities best restaurants. In Sydney, the more demure and delicate brand Mud is turning out a porcelain variety of candy-shop-pastel pieces that make even a breakfast cereal look elegant; while in New York, progressive fashion boutiques from Brooklyn’s dreamy Oro Bora to Steven Alan’s home store, are showcasing ceramics alongside the latest sartorial statements.
Why are ceramics having a comeback now? Today, in the boom of technological culture, where our lives are increasingly played-out online, there’s been a resurgence of ceramics and ethos reminiscent of The Age of Aquarius. As in the past, a new breed of ceramicists reminds us that handmade, individual products are an alternative response to an increasingly globalized and out-sourced design industry. But unlike their ancestral artisans, the new ceramicists have also emerged out of Instagram culture, in which endless snapshots of delicious meals not only require gorgeous produce, but gorgeous plates.
This new wave of ceramic home-ware certainly nods to the past, but you won’t quite recognize the offspring. Today’s earthenware are often postmodern collages, brimming with self-awareness and humor indicative of modern times, melding looks from Japanese wabi-sabi, to the Memphis Design group, to ancient Aztec pots. Take for example, Cassie Griffith’s pop-colored vases in organic shapes that balance right between the natural and highly artificial; or Ben Medansky’s mugs that appear formal, cartoonish, and phallic all at the same time. Medansky, who explains that his work is inspired by “sexual undertones… architecturally booming downtown Los Angeles,” as well as innovations in “technology, and space exploration,” is like many of today’s earthenware artists—not just suggesting a “back-to the land” or “back-to-the-hand” moment, but rather responding to an increasingly complex notion of earth and how we relate to it. With ceramics embodying this cultural ethos, it also does something quite simple: no matter what decade, it satisfies an appetite beyond that of food—it satisfies an artistic appetite, which has a wonderful way of making everything delectable.
Though you’re bound to come across these handmade pieces while you’re out and about, luckily for us, today many of these contemporary potter’s studio thrives online. So dive into our list below, which rounds up some of today’s most interesting offerings, and start a renaissance of your own.