Age 103 And Still Designing. The Life & Work Of Legend Eva Zeisel.

Eva Zeisel her life and work
Eva Zeisel, 2009, photos courtesy of Talisman Photo

103 year old Eva Zeisel continues to amaze. The Hungarian born designer just doesn’t stop. In addition to being an enormous talent, she has a life story as interesting as her work.

The Life of Eva Zeisel

She was born Eva Amalia Stricker on November 13th to Alexander and Laura Polanyi Stricker.

life of eva zeisel

At the age of 17 she enrolled in the Royal Academy Of Fine Arts, intent on becoming a painter, but was convinced by her mother to try a trade at which she could earn money. She then began apprenticing as a potter. In 1925, she started her own pottery on her family estate. In 1927 she moved to Hamburg Germany, where she worked at Hansa Kunstkeramic for 6 months.

In 1932, she visited Russia for the first time. She worked at the Lomonosov Manufactory designing dinnerware and at the Artistic Laboratory of the Lomonosov State Porcelain Factory (the former Imperial Porcelain Factory) in Leningrad.

young eva zeisel

By 1935 she was the artistic director of the Glass and China Industries in Moscow, Russia. It was soon after, in 1936, that the talented Stricker was falsely accused of being part of a conspiracy to kill Josef Stalin and imprisoned in Russia for 16 months, 12 of which were spent in solitary confinement.

Upon her 1937 release from prison (without explanation), she was put on a train to Vienna where she was met by relatives. In 1938 she married her second husband, Hans Zeisel in England (her first marriage was to physicist Alexander Weissberg and was dissolved). Soon after marrying Zeisel, they both moved to new York.

In 1939, she created the first department of ceramic arts industrial design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she taught until 1952.

Eva Zeisel in 1940 with student work at Pratt
Eva Zeisel in 1940 with student work at Pratt. Image courtesy of Pratt.
image courtesy of Eva Zeisel Archives

She then went on to design iconic pieces for Chantal, Sears, Red Wing Pottery, Hall China Company, Watt Pottery, H. Heisey and more. You can still find many of her vintage pieces at the Orange Chicken Gallery.

At the impressive age of 103, she is still actively designing. She has current collections of ceramics and silk-screened prints for Klein Reid, Classic Century ceramics and One O One earthenware for Royal Stafford, the re-issued Granit collection for Design Within Reach, pens, pen holder and card holder designs for Acme, hand blown glassware collections for Gumps , glassware, aluminum and more for Nambé, exclusive China pieces for various galleries, and a furniture line, and most recently a collection of three Tibetan wool rugs for The Rug Company.

eva zeisel at 103 with teapot designs

eva zeisel age 103 talisman photo
above photos courtesy of Talisman photo

Eva Zeisel Glassware for Gumps:
Eva Zeisel Glassware for Gumps:

Exclusives for the Neue gallerie:
Fine bone china Baby feeder:

Porcelain painted Icebox pitchers:

Eva Zeisel for Royal Stafford

Eva Zeisel for Royal Stafford

Eva Zeisel for Royal Stafford

One O One:

Eva Zeisel for Klein Reid:

eva zeisel prints for klien reid IIHIH

Eva Zeisel for Nambé:

Eva Zeisel Originals (furniture and more):

Glassware for Bombay Sapphire

Designed in early 2001, the Centennial Set consists of six impressively scaled celebratory goblets inspired by Eva’s martini glass designed exclusively for the Bombay Sapphire’s promotional campaign. Individually hand-blown by master craftsmen, these elegant works of art are made of the highest quality glass.

Eva Zeisel for Design Within Reach:

Granit tableware:

Eve Zeisel For The Rug Company:

Fish and Lacy X:

Her work is included in the permanent collections of museums worldwide, including MoMA, the Met and the V&A. In 2005, she was awarded the National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York.

The Wall Street Journal has a nice little interview with Eva Zeisel here.

Special thanks to the Eva Zeisel forum for additional information and links.