All photos by Studio Been
The Berlin-based designer Elisa Strozyk has the ability to transform commonplace materials and age-old techniques into anomalies of design that challenge our perceptions. The designer is best known for her wooden textiles, and her latest endeavor shows a similarly disruptive approach. For a series of ceramic tables, Strozyk quite literally breathe new life into glazing, one of the oldest decorative techniques.
The ceramic tables debuted at Objects and the Factory, an exhibition that took place in Cologne, Germany, earlier this year. Strozyk was invited to explore a specific production technique. "I had wanted to work with ceramics for a long time," she says. "It was a good reason to visit some ceramic workshops, and I was very inspired by the different possibilities of using ceramic glazes."
After touring a few local workshops, Strozyk begin to experiment on her own. "The first challenge was to develop large flat surfaces that can be used as tabletops," explains Strozyk. "With traditional ceramic techniques it's not easy, as the material could break or bend during the firing process. I found a way to use an artificial ceramic material for the tabletops." That material is cordierite, the same mineral used to create pizza stones, perfect for its ability to retain and distribute heat without cracking.After establishing a method to source the large, circular table tops, the young designer set about exploring the possibilities of ceramic glaze. Fascinated by the optical effects from techniques like crackelé and the Japanese method of Raku firing, Strozyk was intrigued by how these processes revealed their history, as the material was melted under very high temperatures and then cooled and solidified.
Working in Berlin, Strozyk poured varying glazes over the cordierite, allowing them to pool together before spinning the surface and forcing them to mix. Working through trial and error, her biggest challenge was determining "how the different glazes react with each other, and to find the right consistency of the glazes to receive these results." In addition to rotating the pieces, the designer applied air to blow the liquid glazes into each other and marble the surface—a fluid effect frozen in time once exposed to the heat of the kiln. While she can't reveal every detail behind her process, Strozyk says the the main materials are common ceramic glazes.
"I am somehow attracted by materials which are desirable to touch," Strozyk says. Indeed, most of the Berlin designer's work has a tactility that is only revealed upon interaction. The ceramic tables have fluid patterns that give the illusion of smoke—but they are smooth to the touch, an effect created from the suspended metal oxides and powdered minerals in the marbled glazes that solidify in firing.
With the hand-working behind each tabletop, each edition is rendered totally unique. The tops sit upon steel and copper frames and come in three distinct sizes. They cost between $1,000 to $2,500 each.