Eva Zeisel: A Century of Designing Elegance

Eva Zeisel: A Century of Designing Elegance

Eva Zeisel (1906-2011) was the preeminent modern designer of mass-produced dinnerware of the 20th century.

No other ceramic designer can lay claim to such a high degree of creative activity in so many different countries over such a long period. From pre-World War I Hungary and the Golden Twenties in Germany to 1930s Stalinist Russia and ultimately the United States, her extraordinary life reflected moments of artistic ferment, political upheaval, and cultural revolution.

Similarly, Zeisel’s artistic output over eighty-five years as an industrial designer effectively shaped the look of the century. Active from 1926 until her death in 2011, many of her designs are still in production, with several introduced posthumously. Most importantly, she was interested in the “soul contact” and beauty of an object to inspire joy in those who use her creations in their daily lives. An advocate of “playful beauty” and the sensuous curve, her distinctive designs remain timeless.

On view are designs in ceramic, glass, and wood from 21 different lines, ranging from Zeisel’s first handmade studio pottery in 1926 in Hungary to FilzFelt acoustic felt wall tiles that were introduced in 2017. Of special interest are a group of ceramics from 1939 produced by Bay Ridge Specialty of Trenton, New Jersey, one of Zeisel’s earliest U.S. commissions.

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