15 Minutes with the Man Behind Robert Siegel Studio
Handmade ceramics have become hot items, and one of our favorites is the organic yet elegant, gold-striped work of Robert Siegel. We met the charming Los Angeles-based artist in his recently opened Brooklyn studio (we're jealous of his bicoastal life!) to discuss his gorgeous clay work and influences.
Was there a particular moment that influenced your decision to become a ceramicist?
RS: I can't say that there was one specific moment that influenced my life choice to be an artist, but when I was 8 or 9, I spent much of my time at summer camp in the clay studio. I simply got hooked. In high school, I immersed myself in the study of the craft of pottery making and its history in art and design.
What is your personal style at home? Do you have a particular color scheme?
RS: Overall, I have a very minimal, clean mid-century style. My place is mostly shades of grays and blues with little pops of color, kind of like my porcelain. Go figure?
What's the most important room or feature in the home?
RS: Kitchen without question!
What one piece of furniture or object in your home that you are you obsessed with?
RS: I have this 50's vintage diner table with red leather banquets. It's so simple and so beautiful. I am kind of obsessed with it.
Is there a particular designer/artist that has significantly influenced your design approach? How?
RS: There are many artists and designers that constantly influence my work. Like any other designer, I'm constantly looking at what came before me in order to make new interesting work. Ceramicists like Lucie Rie, Eva Zeisel, Hand Coper, Rupert Spira, Edith Heath, Bobby Silverman and Hella Jongerius; designers like Russell Wright, Mies Van Der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Frank Lloyd Wright; woodworkers like Sam Maloof and Thomas Moser. All of these designers are some of the best who ever lived!
What style of pottery is your favorite? Why?
RS: I have two favorite styles of pottery -- the first being the mid-century modern ceramics, which were produced by the ceramicists mentioned above. I love the simplicity of form and combination of surface and shape mixed with the use of rough, raw and glazed clay surfaces.
My second favorite was produced in Jingdezhen, China during the Song Dynasty. Known as the "porcelain city," the kilns at Jingdezhen produced some of the most exquisite porcelain ever made. The technical ability of these master throwers, trimmers and kiln masters is beyond comprehension. The forms are so simple yet intricate combined with the super detailed surface decoration. I am always blown away when I see this old work in person.
What would you say is the greatest challenge with designing?
RS: The greatest challenge is knowing when to stop. Eliminating the ideas that you want to work but know don't or won't work. We all have so many ideas, and it is impossible to create everything that we want to make or see in our heads.
Do you have any home trend predictions for 2015?
RS: I think design is going to continue to become more modular. We are living in a world where space is at a premium, and we are constantly looking for new solutions to age-old problems of space efficiency.
While Siegel produces the gold standard of ceramics, he also has been expanding his studio and practice to include furniture! Here are more of his gorgeous creations.
A porcelain and copper table lamp sits atop a walnut and copper pipe table and chair combo.
Siegel even makes colorfully striped vases, bowls and plates. Check out more of his work at RobertSiegelStudio.com.