The Top Five Contemporary Ceramicists You Need to Know Right Now

John Booth
John Booth | © Alastair Strong
Photo of Charlotte Luxford
Architecture & Design Editor4 May 2018

While ceramics can be traced back thousands of years to the humblest of pots, this timeless material is being dusted off by a new breed of ceramicists. These creators are taking the clay off the potter’s wheel and choosing it as a means of creative expression, producing everything from delicate 3D-printed vessels to small-scale architecture. Tom Morris’ latest book New Wave Clay charts this craft revival and the artisans leading it. Here, he selects his top five up-and-coming designers to watch out for.

Cody Hoyt, New York

Signature style: Sculptural, geometric-patterned pots

Morris says:Cody Hoyt originally trained in printmaking, and that’s wildly obvious in the complex surface decoration of his vessels. He incorporates marbling, tessellation and Bridget Riley-esque Op-art pattern into his stoneware pots. He literally puts them together like a jigsaw puzzle. When [I was] interviewing Hoyt, he said: “In chasing complexity I’ve progressed toward controlled, intentional elements as opposed to the aesthetic qualities of incidental patterns like marbling. Now I can incorporate graphic elements from other work into the ceramics.”’

Where you’ll have seen his work: You can see and buy his work from Patrick Parrish gallery in New York, where he had a solo exhibition in 2017.

Cody Hoyt’s ceramics often feature tessellating or geometric patterns | © Clemens Kois for Patrick Parrish Gallery

Floris Wubben, Eindhoven

Signature style: Marrying machine-made and handcrafted design

Morris says:Floris Wubben calls himself a “designer who works with ceramic” rather than a ceramicist and yet, despite that, he’s really pushing boundaries with the material. He’s very interested in process and has personally developed an extrusion machine to make his trademark ceramic stools. Clay is squeezed through the profiles in various zig-zag permutations and then tidied up as vases, sculptures and side tables.’

Where you’ll have seen his work: He’s regularly exhibited at Milan Design Week and currently has a solo exhibition at the National Ceramic Museum until November 25, 2018.

Floris Wubben’s ceramic stools | © The Future Perfect

John Booth, London

Signature style: Hand-built cartoon-style vessels

Morris says:John Booth is a multi-talented designer. He actually trained in fashion design before venturing out into illustration after graduation. He then started making things out of clay using similar principles (these heads are put together using templates, just like a pattern cutter’s technique). Booth might work in a variety of disciplines, but whatever he makes is always cheerful and colourful.’

Where you’ll have seen his work: Booth has worked with A-list brands such as Fendi and Globetrotter.

John Booth’s vessels often take on a cartoon-like style

Apparatu, Barcelona

Signature style: Simple yet experimental functional ware and furniture

Morris says:Apparatu is a ceramic design brand from just outside Barcelona. The young guy in charge, Xavier Mañosa, took over the studio set up by his parents decades ago and has given it a new lease of life by pairing his design school experience with mum and dad’s pottery skills. They make an array of things – from tables featuring porcelain legs thrown on the wheel to more functional collections of crockery.’

Where you’ll have seen his work: Pieces by Apparatu have been exhibited at contemporary design fairs and festivals across the world – last year Mañosa created an entire kitchen out of clay-like material Dekton for Milan Design Week.

Apparatu often makes furniture out of clay | © Jara Varela

Paola Paronetto, Italy

Signature style: Still-life compositions made from fragile porcelain

Morris says:Paola Paronetto is an Italian potter who has developed an interesting technique to make her designs. She dips cardboard in slip (watered-down clay) and then builds up these vessels using the pulpy material. She fires them so that the cardboard burns away, leaving a grooved ceramic shape. The primarily-coloured paper pots are really beautiful and as a collection, they are Giorgio Morandi-esque still life landscapes.’

Where you’ll have seen her work: Paronettos has worked with many native Italian companies including Lema, Valcucine, Scavolini, De Padova, and Paronetto’s work is also on display in Paris for La dérive des contenants exhibition, running until June 24, 2018.

Paolo Paronetto’s sculptures resemble still-life compositions | © Paolo Paronetto

New Wave Clay is fascinating global survey of 55 imaginative ceramicists that have been pushing the boundaries of this material to give it a new lease of life.

‘In the last decade or so, ceramics has been subject to something of a revival – in making and collecting,’ explains Morris in the book. ‘A highly inventive new generation of ceramicists has developed what is possible with the craft and has been joined by waves of people from other creative fields – architecture, furniture, illustration, interiors, painting – who are are realising clay’s unique assets and bringing a fresh perspective to the sector. New Wave Clay focuses on this lively crossover between traditional craft, collectible design and domestic-scale sculpture.’

New Wave Clay by Tom Morris | © Frame

New Wave Clay: Ceramic Design, Art and Architecture by Tom Morris is published by Frame, and is available to buy here.

Want to see innovative ceramists at work? Meet Illustrator and Ceramic Artist Mamen Morillas.

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