Pottery is one of the world's oldest human crafts. It ranks alongside weaving as one of the first things that people needed to learn how to do in order to survive. It's easy to imagine that, like so many other crafts, it all began with a simple human need; The need to hold things that were larger than people could hold in their hands or the need to hold something for longer than human hands would be able to hold it. Water was likely the most important of these things, as it needed to be stored, moved and saved for later, all while being uniquely unsuited to being held and carried by hand. From this need came the first vessels, and it probably didn't take long after that for it to become apparent that some people were able to make better vessels than others, or for people to realize that this new medium could be used as a means of expression. At that point we began to create pottery that was beautiful as well as functional and something that started as a craft began its long journey to becoming an art.
The simple humanity of the story behind pottery is astonishing. The oldest pieces, found in China in 2012, are around 20,000 years old. From that time until now, countless groups of people all over the world have developed pottery traditions, and those traditions come to us now from Egypt and several other countries in Africa, as well as Asia and all across the Americas, just to name a few.
Despite its age, pottery has remained a viable part of homes across the world, not only for functional reasons but as part of how we decorate. Like textiles, pottery styles have been reimagined time and again over the generations and today, a new generation of potters and ceramicists are offering new takes on the ancient idea of a vessel. Some are from large brands and others from individual artists. Some reimagine the vessels of antiquity while others attempt to find new approaches to creating and designing. Their works may range from the whimsical to the statuesque but all of them are giving us new reasons to take another look at this very old art form. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Berlin-based retailer BON Ceramics is taking a major step toward bringing the world together through pottery. With an impressive list of designers from across the globe, this brand curates only the finest handmade, artisinal works in exclusive collections available on their website. Ceramic enthusiasts can now have the best of all worlds as BON is celebrating the most captivating examples of the new aesthetic that modern ceramicists are bringing to the medium through pieces like those seen here.
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West Elm Honeycomb Linework Vases
Closer to home, some of the larger home decor retail brands are making their own forays into the ever-expanding world of modern ceramics. West Elm's Honeycomb Linework Vases are an exciting and colorful addition to any home, with a look that is a unique mixture of the natural and the geometric. One of the most appealing features of these vases is that everything about them vases is done by hand. The vessels themselves are hand-thrown and crafted from terracotta. The lines are also etched by hand, carved into the surface which is then hand-glazed for the final, beautiful result. The vases are available in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors, making it easy to find the one that is just right for your space, or—even better—to mix and match for something truly special.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
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Jonathan Adler Relief Vases
Making the most out of today's global village to offer an amazing range of gorgeous home decor accessories, Jonathan Adler's eponymous brand works with artisans in Peru to create his line of Relief Vases. Inspired by nature, the shapes, lines and color of the pieces all evoke the sense of seeds, pebbles and other small, oblong bits and pieces found in nature. Beginning life as a prototype in Jonathan Adler's personal studio, each vase is made of stoneware, hand-fired with a tobacco glaze that creates the deep, almost metallic brown color that makes these pieces so irresistible. Yet beneath its natural inspirations lies a thoroughly modernist piece that will add a pleasing note of texture, pattern and color to any modern room. These vases are available in the tall Vertical size, as well as the squat Diamond and the curvaceous Lady varieties.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
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Broste Copenhagen Amalie Vases
Founded in 1955, Broste Copenhagen has grown into one of Scandinavia's leading home decor companies. The Copenhagen-based brand prides itself on traveling the world to find inspiration from a wide assortment of cultures, traditions and methods. Among its many finds and products are the Amalie vases. These ceramic vases are made with a delicate process intended to preserve the feel and texture that characterized the original material. As a result, no two vases are completely alike and even those that have a common style, color and shape may have slight variations in texture that give them a unique, one-of-a-kind feel. The traditional bulbous shape of these vases is pleasingly contrasted by the highly polished sheen, deep ridges and the slight asymmetry at the lip, all of which marks them as being thoroughly modern. But their most eye-catching feature is their beautiful array of pastel colors that distinguishes them from traditional styles of pottery. The colors make the Amalie the perfect options for anyone looking for pottery to use for plants or simply to add an interesting, contemporary design element that can stand all on its own.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
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West Elm Art Pottery Vases
Where other ceramic vessels of the new generation might pay hommage to techniques of the ancient past or cultures of classic antiquity, the Art Pottery Vases from West Elm draw their inspiration from a very different and refreshingly unexpected source. The Art Pottery vases are inspired by the shape and aesthetic of vases made in Germany during the 1950s. Made from 100% earthenware these tall, visually striking pieces are covered in either a white glaze or a natural clay finish that pairs a very natural looking material with very bold architectural shapes. Boasting a variety of styles, sizes, lips and etched designs, these remarkable pieces can be used individually as accent pieces or together to create a show-stopping display.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Kahler Hammershoi Vase
Kahler is one of the most notable names in ceramics, especially in the family's home country of Denmark, where the tradition of excellence runs wide and deep. In the mid-1800s Herman J. Kahler, a potter by trade, immigrated from Germany to open his studio in the town of Nestved, starting a business of creating functional ceramic kitchenware that he would later leave to his sons, Herman August and Carl Frederik. After Carl sold his interest, his brother introduced a signature logo to the products, "HAK,"—his initials—which every Kahler product proudly bears to this day. Eventually Herman August branched out beyond functional pieces, opening his studio to artists and students, becoming a magnet for some of Europe's most notable ceramicists, and expanding an already successful business through the introduction of new innovations such as the famous ruby red glaze known as, "Kahler Red."
Today, the Kahler family remains on the cutting edge of ceramic style and the very top when it comes to quality. The Hammershoi Vase, designed by Hans-Christian Bauer, is ample proof of that. Made from anthracite, the elegant grooves elongate the piece giving it a stately appearance complemented by its glossy finish and strong colors. More than a fashion statement, the grooves—as well as the slight collar at the neck of the vase—are intended to help prolong the life of any flowers paired with the piece.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
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Jonathan Adler Futura Vases
Despite its name, Jonathan Adlers, Futura Vases, are an interesting look back at the ancient past. With motifs and colorways both evoking the distinctive and iconic pottery of ancient Greece, these beautifully modern pieces are a wonderful way to add a fun bit of whimsy to your favorite room. Available in both white-and-gold and black-and-gold color palettes, the Malachite, Feathers, Drip Urn, and Circles are just a few of the designs that you can play with. Successfully blending ancient and modern aesthetics, these vases are definitely worth a look for your next design project. The future is now.