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Petra on pottery

featuring West German art pottery, Fat Lava and more 20th century ceramics

Eva Zeisel, designer of the items in this post, is somewhat of a living legend. Born in Hungary in 1906, she is still alive today and designing. Only a short period of that long life was spend as a designer at the Schramberger Majolika Fabrik (SMF). She started in the fall of 1928 and left in the spring of 1930, but in that time she managed to produce about 200 designs. This set in a polka dot decor (decor 3669) she made for Schramberg.

I am reading an interesting book called 20th Century ceramics by Edmund de Waal (Thames & Hudson London 2003). It seems, in the period between the world wars, making household ceramics for mass production was an important, new task for the pottery industry. With the winds of class emancipation blowing over Europe, there were a number of designers and groups of designers who would take it as their social obligation to provide good designs for the masses. These designs would ideally be functional and economical. Some pretty austere things were made in those days, lacking any ornament and decoration. On the other end of the spectrum you would also have designers like Clarice Cliff, who’s ‘frivolous’ Art Deco ceramics were much more about the expression of a new (urban) lifestyle and less about the masses. Eva Zeisel, I think, was somewhere left of center, aiming at good designs for mass production, but wanting them to be stylish at the same time. The items in this post are a good example of how she succeeded in combining these two aspects.

Eva Zeisel was one of the first industrial designers. She has lived a very interesting and productive life, not only designing ceramics, but just about anything else that needs designing. The information on her life I got from the website of the Eva Zeisel Forum, where you can find a lot more about this fabulous woman.


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