I really miss New Zealand. Nothing like walking along the beach on a breezy morning and and having a few strangers wish you a good morning, or start up a chat about some sandy dog. In fact, the place is so small you might bump into someone you actually know while you’re there.
Kiwis are pretty good at getting along a lot of the time. That, and New Zealand is a small place, which makes for small arts and creative industry communities. You either know a person yourself, or know someone who probably does. Despite the advance of technology, being geographically isolated from the rest of the world means collaborating with fellow Kiwi creatives is still simply the more practical option for NZ businesses.
With all that considered we end up with a bunch of creatives who have a willingness to work with others and make great things. Plus, who wouldn’t want to work with and support other local makers & designers? We’re all in the same boat trying to build up the NZ creative industry.
In celebration of kiwi mates making cool stuff I’ve gathered some of my favourite top notch ceramic collaborations from the past couple of years. Good onya.
Gidon Bing x Kowtow
” Gidon Bing vessels and Kowtow garments share an understated craftsmanship and sense of purpose, and make perfect gifts. We collaborated with Gidon to design the ceramic tiles of our Flagship Store and are now excited to offer a limited selection of Gidon’s ceramics. “Kowtow
“I find great value in surrounding yourself with like-minded people and so we have found that collaborating with other creatives is one of the best ways to keep us on our toes.”Gosia Piątek, in conversation with Gidon Bing
I dream of one day having an entire wardrobe of Kowtow threads… Clean. Minimalist. Modern. I have a golden shirt from Kowtow which looks as crisp and new as the day I bought it. That’s some high quality cotton right there.
The slick design of these objects sits well with the Kowtow aesthetic. Kowtow is an ethical brand championing silhouette and form – and you could use the same phrase to describe their collab with Gidon Bing. The locally produced wares drip with technique and quality. A perfect example of everyday luxecraft.
I know what you’re thinking… where are the tiles? For crying out loud give the tile-loving pottery people what they want! Never fear, Kowtow has kindly shared a series of photographs here – and you really need to see them in context to fully appreciate that level of beauty. Don’t get me started on those lanterns.
Ingrid Starnes x Fiona Mackay
“Available in four colours and hand thrown by Fiona in her home studio, these new beakers also make the perfect coffee cup or vase once finished.”Ingrid Starnes
A delicate balance of clean lines and inviting tactile surface, these incredibly beautiful vessels are the product of a collaboration between Ingrid Starnes and Fiona Mackay Ceramics. The sand strewn cups could only possibly look cosier by literally lighting them on fire, so of course they’re designed for just that (well, it’s a candle, which is kind of the same). The matte wax of these Vetyver Bergamot candles complements the speckled ceramic, enhancing that swoon-worthy blush glaze.
Still don’t think they’re lovely enough? These chic tumblers are made even more charming with a second life as a vase for fresh blooms. In the words of JRD Tata, “Uncommon thinkers reuse what common thinkers refuse”. So.. Re-use is cool.
Betty Chung x Alice Berry
These cheerful bowls are the outcome of an collab between two NZ creatives – ceramist and architect Chung, and artist-designer Berry.
“Together we created organic, abstract shapes for our bowls, blending Alice’s ‘figure it out as we go’ process and my considered process. From there, I created our bowls, Alice hand-painted them. I glazed and fired them. The organic shapes give the sense of a new bowl every time you look at it from a different angle.”Betty Chung
I love this design story! And doesn’t the process come through in the product? Playful, painterly and spontaneous. The bowls sit in the space between art and object, fitting both as a decorative pieces to enjoy alone and as functional everyday ceramics.
What a nice idea of multiple bowls in one, the bowl acting as a sculpture that changes depending on your viewing position. I would love to see one of these in the late afternoon sunshine – those warped shadows must be lovely.
You can currently find these and other local ceramics at Endemic World in Ponsonby, Auckland.
Hayley Bridgford x Grant Bailey x Deadly Ponies
Apparently modern craft is well and truly alive, and these displays are an example of the quality of maker seeing a resurgence in New Zealand and Australia. This impressive collaboration between ceramist Hayley Bridgford, maker Grant Bailey, and iconic NZ accessories brand Deadly Ponies shows clarity of concept, and an admirable technical proficiency that would be fitting for local novices to aspire to.
Bold, sleek, and serene, the plinths are standing sculptures worthy of stopping for. Despite this formal beauty, somehow they still manage to do their job of showcasing Deadly Ponies product without overwhelming the items. Okay, so you could say I’m a fan.
There are a couple of other images currently on the Deadly Ponies website, where you can find their Ponsonby and Britomart addresses if you’d like to see the plinths in person. Which you probably do, because aside from how luxe these are, from what I’ve heard they’re living in rooms full of other oak furniture and detailing by Bailey, and topped off with beautiful antiques.
Can you say h e a v e n.
“Wondering who created all the beautiful custom furniture in our Ponsonby Flagship store, meet Grant Bailey, @grantbaileymaker. Deadly Ponies
Deadly Ponies has been working with Grant for years now and you’ll see his incredible work in all of our stores.”
Wundaire x Salasai
Minimalist forms with graphic prints inspired by Salasai’s seasonal fabrics, crying out for a colourful chunk of sliced fruit. Salasai is expanding into homewares, and Wundaire is collaborating with them on one of their first forays into the medium.
“..the pair are now focused on developing Salasai into a lifestyle brand with the launch of Salasai home in 2014. Utilising the seasons ready to wear print to create limited edition homeware pieces that are unique and timeless. “Salasai
Felicity Donaldson (the face behind Wundaire) is a bit of an old hat at this collab thing these days. The self-taught Wellington ceramist boasts an eye watering archive of collaborations with some of the best in NZ design – such as Kowtow (see below), Meadowlark and Fix and Fogg – . With that impressive repertoire it’s not terribly surprising to see her talents spreading across the ditch to Perth based Salasai.
Ceres Organics x Thea Ceramics
“Part 2 of 2 of our collaboration with @thea_ceramics… These beautiful mugs were designed by Esther, all individually hand made, you can see the love put into each and every mug. “Ceres Organics
Not entirely sure if it’s the toasty gold colour or all that handmade love, but these cups and bowls by Thea Ceramics look like a porch lamp on a rainy night.
The dinnerware collaboration between Kiwi organic food brand Ceres and the Waiheke based ceramics business is clean and simple in design, but still reads as firmly handmade. It’s the ideal texture to welcome you to the breakfast table or your morning coffee, wrapping you up in the comfort of something natural from the human hand. And it makes sense, too – cause Ceres is all about that mindful and connected way of life.
“As merchants we work with products that enliven and bring healing to the earth and humankind. “Ceres Organics
If you’re interested in taking a peek, Thea Ceramics actually has some other great projects listed over on this beautiful website. The public is also welcome to visit Esther’s Waiheke Island studio – get in touch to make an appointment.
Kowtow x Wundaire
Two of the design queens of New Zealand coming together to make beautiful ceramic dinnerware… It’s no wonder these pieces came out so captivating. A couple of years ago Wundaire and Kowtow released this muted set of wares reflecting the palette of that season’s clothing line.
Terrazzo bowls reference a composite marble / granite material found in interiors – block shapes and chalky tones grace the surface of the plates, creating a unique dialogue with the sleek Kowtow clothing silhouettes.
In line with their ethical manufacturing ethos, Kowtow regularly collaborates with local New Zealand small batch production ceramists (another example is Gidon Bing x Kowtow, above).
Ovna Ovich x Wundaire x Natalia Peri
Effortlessly chic. Minimal. Romantic. This is the elegant jewellery collaboration between fashion design Ovna Ovich, ceramist Wundaire and jewellery designer Natalia Peri.
Unnecessary elements have been stripped back to present a simple form, quietly suggesting the warmth of the handmade. Sleek modern jewellery fixings are well considered and contrast with the rustic glazing over the clay body, enhancing the beauty and materiality of both parts.
… Put as simply and beautifully as the objects themselves.
Taus Ceramic x Holm
“Each of these limited edition mugs are illustrated by a Holm regular with what Holm feels like to them.”Holm Coffee
This is one of the coolest collab ideas I’ve seen in ceramics. What a nice way to appreciate and engage your cafe regulars.
In addition to a clever concept, the modern aesthetic of Taus has really paid off in the slick outcome. The simplicity of the classic Taus ceramic mug matched with the line illustrations elevates the objects from nice cups to precious pieces that you’ll treasure for years.
Sadly Holm closed last year, but obviously they got into some great things while they were around. And boy, did those coffee hounds deliver, too. I particularly relate to seeing a favourite cafe as a cosy sweater and hat combo (bottom right). These pieces genuinely capture the relationships Holm had with their clientele and their distinct personalities.
This was supposed to be an image based post, but here we are at the end of my many many words. I just can’t help myself when it comes to these collaborations, they get me so excited about NZ contemporary craft and the future of these industries in Aotearoa.
These makers can only continue developing new work with the support of local customers and businesses. It’s how makers are able to continue to push forward design and be inventive in their production (so, not spending all their time worrying about making rent).
Encourage your favourite NZ brands to collaborate with kiwi artisans, and if you’re not a kiwi, do the same in the place you call home.