I proudly present you the 8-person dinnerware set that I worked on for almost three months this spring. The process included designing and hand-crafting the set as well as working with artists for additional elements such as the box and napkins.
This has been a challenging journey that saw me excited, frustrated yet determined and creative like never before.
It all started a few months ago when a family stopped by my shop inquiring about custom-made dinnerware sets. It took us a moment to click and there I was some time later drinking coffee in their dinning room talking about the design for this special 8-person dinnerware set. This couple has a little something that every craftsman (and craftswoman) dreams of - refined aesthetics and common grounds. They complement each other in such a beautiful way that inspired me and, what's more important, pushed my limits.
This lovely couple are people that moved a lot as diplomats do. The most important thing they learned on the way is to appreciate a sense of home. That's why all the most important objects that mean home are also in Belgrade with them, such as a ceramic table (the one that actually initiated this creative journey),a beautiful folk craft carpet bought in Sarajevo, as well as art work. Hopefully, the dinnerware set will be one of those cherishes possessions that will see the world!
They love gather their children and friends around the table but an extra reason for ordering this custom-made set is actually the fact that their new professional positions also includes giving formal dinners for other members of the diplomatic corps here in Belgrade. So, it was a perfect moment for a special dinnerware set. Since none of the industrial producers had anything close to match their sensibility, they returned to my studio. I can only say it was a pure pleasure working with them from the initial phase - designing all the way to setting the table in their dinning room with the finished set! Understanding, growing trust and mutual aesthetics are the key words when making a custom-made set. And we had it all!
The initial brief for me was that they needed a set to match their beautiful table with a ceramic surface and these classy elegant leather chairs. Still, that was something on the surface, the main direction. I didn't want to start from there. I needed something raw, something personal. I wanted to hear the story of these two people. I spent hours talking to them about their preferences, lives, aesthetics.
The keyword for me was learning that the lady was raised in Kenya where she spent the most important part of her life, what it means to her, how it influenced her aesthetics. Her family originates from Europe but it was only her work that brought her here after years of building a relationship with the culture of her roots and interweaving it with Africa.
At one point we agreed we have something so I started with making the first samples. Good result comes after deep immersion into the task and soaking all the signals that were received without judging it. That is where I crossed my limits. I didn't want to be strict and insist on porcelain as the only material. Black clay was a perfect match and an obvious solution to support the porcelain. The set consists of seven different pieces and here they are.
A 32 cm charger plate, which was made of black clay, was the most demanding piece of the set since flat and large surfaces are prone to braking the most (due to the shrinkage). It requires extra attention with every step. The pattern on the surface was inspired by traditional woodcraft from Konjic, Bosnia. Every plate has three glossy copper luster details.
This 27 cm dinner plate states the presence and domination of porcelain within the set. The only detail on the plates is a lively yet elegant black color natural flow ornamented with a thin line of glossy copper (luster) applied with a fine calligraphic brush.
Salad plate (21cm) is the star of the set. I had a clear idea what I wanted but finding such an effective glaze that is also food safe was not that easy at all. I eventually found it at one small shop in Germany. Its patina effect of gold and bronze was a perfect match with the table and the rest of the set.
Dessert plate in rosé. Gentle and elegant, this plate gives a certain balance to the whole set and harmonizes all pieces and colors.
The bowls are the only wheel-thrown pieces in the set and are made of black clay. As simple as traditional African pottery for every day use but also elegant and to the point. The bowls actually close the circle - starting off with the charger plate of the same material and ending here on the same note.
Spice bowls were made of colored porcelain - the body clay was colored in the early phase by adding pigments to the porcelain slip. This is a demanding technique since the clay becomes prone to breaking. Mainly smaller pieces are made this way. Check out my Adriatic collection.
Oval bread plate is almost flat with a luster line. Slightly curved from the center to the sides, these simple pieces made of ivory porcelain just like the all porcelain pieces you see.
The hand screen-printed napkins were made by Vilenica. This technique allows for a very precise colors and shades. The abstract patterns, inspired by water drops as opposed to dry soil and earthen touch of the set, were printed on linen. They match perfectly, right?
Finally, wooden box was made of pine wood and its surface was burned using the Shou Sugi Ban, traditional Japanese technique. We were completely free in its design and the purchaser was delighted when saw it. It was than that she told us that she was born in Japan and spent early childhood there. Bojan Krstić, sculptor from Zemun, Serbia, hand-crafted this absolutely gorgeous box following on our design.
The box has a partition that holds the personalized certificate tat tells the name of the purchasers, list of pieces and a short testimony of mine about the set and collaboration. The excerpt from it says:
Clay remembers the energy. Ceramic pieces shine out the energy given in the creative process but they also accept and enhance the energy given to it through the use. The design is nothing else than an imprint of emotions. As ceramics can last ages we always want it to bear the message we deeply believe in. Having that in mind, this dinner set is the set of love and awareness of the importance of a sense of home.