There are two ways to think about status ceramics, really. Ceramics that you use daily, like dinnerware, and ceramics that sit on a credenza as art objet, never to be touched; except, perhaps, by a few peony stems. For this piece, we set out to find the ceramicists who are walking the line between both, designing and throwing pieces that you won’t be afraid to touch and use, but that still ignite some awe and respect — the new status ceramics.
There’s one thing to get out of the way first, which is that we’re looking for the successor to Heath Ceramics, the California company founded in 1948 that has managed to monopolize the ceramic dinnerware scene. They’re the wished-for — and widely known — ceramics of tasteful people everywhere, from NoHo to Silver Lake. “They’re beautiful and gorgeous, but they’re the default wedding registry dishes,” says Monica Khemsurov, cofounder of the design blog Sight Unseen. The same goes for Group Partner, which makes that boobs planter that you’ve surely seen everywhere. To find what comes next for the more discerning ceramics-lover, we spoke with ceramicists and shop owners and scoured the coolest homewares shops to learn more about who are the ceramicists to know and buy, right now.
We considered Cody Hoyt’s ceramic vases (they go for $5,400) and Matthew Ward’s painstakingly glazed bowls ($545), but they felt too fine-art and exclusive. Of course you’d have to be in-the-know in the ceramics world to have heard about these guys, but you’d also have to follow the art world to get your hands on them. The same is true with Giselle Hicks, who has nearly 13,000 Instagram followers, but whose work isn’t readily available for purchase.
So we set out to find the status ceramic that is accessible and usable, but also requires a little in-the-know knowledge. A ceramicist that a group of like-minded ceramic-lovers will recognize as of-the-moment and special, while still not being something you’d need fine-art investor money to afford. Here’s what we found.
The New Status Ceramic
Her name is Bari Ziperstein, her line is BZippy & Co., and everyone we spoke with mentioned her work. She’s based in Los Angeles, but her playful, colorful pieces have attracted attention around the country. The interior designer Kelly Wearstler has used them as accent pieces in her recent projects. The style-defining shops Ten Over Six, Oroboro, Dream Collective, Egg Collective, Mociun, and Coming Soon all carry BZippy. Herman Miller decorates with BZippy in its showrooms, as does J. Crew. She is universally accepted as what’s hot now. “She’s become very iconic for her shapes, colors, and glazes,” says Fabiana Faria, co-owner of Coming Soon. Owning a BZippy means entering a world of the ceramic elite.
The Runner Ups
There is, of course, a whole wide world of ceramicists with Instagram followings, which is where Forrest Lewinger of Workaday Handmade falls. With nearly 17,000 followers he’s not the biggest on social media, but his extra-large mugs have become instantly recognizable and sought after. They use a shorter version of these at the James Beard-nominated downtown restaurant De Maria (whose ceramics we also recently wrote about).
The true Workaday status item, though, would have to be one of his stools or tables. Ceramic furniture, far more rare than any tabletop ceramics, show a real commitment to the material.
And in that ceramics-as-furniture vein, there’s also Natalie Weinberger. Her tabletop work is sold at the Primary Essentials, among other homewares stores, and she was also just in an all-women New York Design Month show at the Egg Collective, where she showed her all-clay lamps, shade included, “That was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while in ceramics,” says Khemsurov, who’s definitely seen the most in ceramics.
As for Weinberger’s other work, Khemsurov explains, “It’s understated, which is why cool girls like them. They’re easy to fit into décor. The shapes are sleek, but the finishes are a bit more rustic. So they have that beige-y hipster thing with perfect shadows cast by your trendy plants.”
As for dinner plates and registry dishes besides Heath, there’s East Fork, which uses colors that Khemsurov calls, “a bit more adventurous.” The North Carolina-based brand just revealed a new collection in May at the West Village boutique Calliope during NYC x Design.
Over at the Strategist we’re huge fans of Hasami’s Japanese porcelain plates, because of this gorgeous glossy gray-blue color and the perfect lip, so no food slides off the edges. Theirs is also the only dinnerware sold at Totokaelo, so it counts as “directional” dinnerware.
To go back to Instagram-famous ceramicists doing hand-thrown work for a moment, Helen Levi, with 171,000 followers, has reached peak Brooklyn-based young ceramicist, but her work isn’t quite everywhere enough to be overused yet. Her signature look is as if you put a bunch of color dyes in a bathtub, swirled it around, and dipped some serving bowls and mugs in it.
And here’s a carafe, which we at the Strategist, as big fans, have written about before.
And then there’s Natalie Herrera, whose work is more exacting and precise than what you’d normally find thrown on a wheel. She works a day job at the creative studio RoAndCo and opened up her ceramics shop High Gloss as a side project. The thing is that Natalie doesn’t regularly come out with new items, so you’ll find most pieces on her website sold out, and the moment she comes out with new ones, they sell out again. Buyers must be on their toes to pick up a Herrera original.
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