The world lost a legend on December 30th when Eva Zeisel died at the age of 105. In honor of her passing, I am reprinting a post I wrote on her amazing life and work in April of 2010.
Remembering Eva Zeisel
above: 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.
She was born Eva Amalia Stricker on November 13th to Alexander and Laura Polanyi Stricker. 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.
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.
above: Eva Zeisel in 1940 with student work at Pratt. Image courtesy of Pratt.
above 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.
above photos courtesy of Talisman photo and the Brooklyn Museum
Eve Zeisel Glassware for Gumps:
Eva Zeisel for Nambé:
Eva Zeisel 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 Originals (furniture and more):
Eva Zeisel for Design Within Reach:
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.