Little Owl Design – Little Ceramic Works of Art
Bruce Wayland [American, New York City] and Marcello De Simone [Italian, Lecce] met in Amsterdam, and formed Little Owl Design in 2010.
The first project the duo created – ‘Altered Perspectives’ – is a mixed media of Dutch and Oriental plates and paintings combined together to form unique pieces. They next developed a collection of wallpapers, inspired by nature, from the skies of Holland combined with 18th century etchings, to 19th century Dutch herbaria, and a 19th century Dutch star chart of the Southern Hemisphere. They debuted the collection in 2014 at Ventura Lambrate in Milan, where they also first showed a new limited edition series: ‘Altered Histories’.
In collaboration with ceramic artist Pauline Wiertz they succeeded in reproducing in clay the effect of linen applied to the plates. The linen canvas was cast into the ceramic, producing a tactile surface on the plates, which were then decorated with transfers of paintings and ceramic décors designed by the duo. The thread of the way the structure of the plates is revealed by covering them with the canvas, the idea of concealing and revealing the plate and the dialogue between the two seemingly disparate mediums of fabric and ceramics has lead to their latest project ‘From A Different Cloth’ presented during Ventura Lambrate 2015.
From a Different Cloth
This unique stoneware and porcelain collection is the culmination of a six year process started with their ongoing one-of-a-kind series ‘Altered Perspectives’ and further developed in their limited edition sets ‘Altered Histories’.
Having selected antique textiles, they were cast together with the ceramics in positive relief, reproducing the finest details of their structure while at the same time adding a softening effect to the various forms, all of which have a rich history. The result reproduces the softness of the textile into the hardness of the ceramics, creating a highly tactile quality which challenges the viewer’s expectations and forces them to look further.
Ceramics as applied art/design medium are highly charged with sustainability issues: although their hardness makes them durable, they usually require between two to three firings to reach the final result, with considerable use of energy.
Little Owl Design’s solution to this issue was the to achieve a highly sophisticated object with only a single firing, colouring the ceramics with body stains and developing a fine mat glaze which is applied in the raw state. The result is a completely unique ceramic plate which is both food and dishwasher safe.
Subsequently the designers have developed a new technique in which they paint with the coloured slip directly onto the plaster mould, before filling it with a contrasting liquid slip. This allows them to achieve an exceptional layering of several colours through their own recipes which use different body stains. The traces of previous pourings add an extra depth to each plate.
The ‘From A Different Cloth’ collection is entirely realized by Little Owl Design in their atelier in Amsterdam.