Emotional ceramics

Students explore the future of this ancient material in "Ceramic Futures" at the CERSAIE expo of ceramic tiles and sanitaryware in Bologna, Italy.

Students from four European design schools are mapping out new terrain in the field of ceramics in an exhibition called Ceramic Futures at the CERSAIE expo of ceramic tiles and sanitaryware in Bologna, Italy. Here we select a few standout pieces that fascinate us not for how they expand the field technically or explore material applications, but for their human-centric nature. These four pieces all reflect on how this very tactile medium emphasises the body and emotions.

Ceramic Futures, now in its second edition, charged students from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, Barcelona School of Design and Engineering, École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (EnsAD) and Politecnico di Milano to think about what ceramics could become. The students collaborated and exchanged ideas using social media tools over a two-month period and the most popular pieces were selected for the exhibition.

Curated by Italian designer and educator Stefano Mirti, the project was intended as a “playful exercise” to encourage debate, interaction and constructive competition among the students. 

The students produced work in four categories: "To Eat", "To Love", "To Sleep" and "To Walk". The results are on show until 26 September 2014.

We select our favourite in each of the four categories:

In the "To Eat" category, Jessica Pinotto from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna questioned what and how we are going to eat in the future with her series of graphic serving plates called Colour Ingestion. “I asked myself how my work as a designer could highlight the importance of food and nutrition and I discovered that colour can have a significant influence on our appetites and tastes,” explains Pinotto. Using the psychological effects of colour she designed a series of graphics that serve particular functions – for example, a rippling blue pattern is hypnotic and a little disturbing, so she proposes it be used to suppress the user's appetite and control portion sizes.
In the "To Love" category, Dan Wu of Politecnico di Milano brings poignancy to his materials by capturing the very personal imprints of loved ones in clay. Neither purely decorative nor functional, the work is mainly emotional in its use. “Holding Talisman tightly you can feel this substance in our hand, just like holding hands tightly,” says Wu.
The work of Alice Forestan of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna is inspired by the traces that sleep leaves on our bodies through the creases of bedding on our skin. “Fascinated by these signs I decided to replicate them on ceramics, working on something imperfect with a skin texture,” she explains. Her project, Fragmentis, in the "To Sleep" category is a series of wearable ceramic pieces that feature cracked, fired ceramics on fabric, which echo the fragility of our human bodies.
In the "To Walk" category, Teresa Baena's vessel is designed to be sympathetic to the human body when carried. She was inspired by rural women who carry heavy loads such as water or food on their heads and designed a vessel shaped to comfortably rest on the shoulder with grooves for the hand. “The embrace offered by its sensuality and the gesture inherent in its shape invite us to hold it firmly but gently,” she says.

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