Meet the Makers

Ceramicist Eric Bonnin

On a recent buying trip to New York, we made the time to visit ceramicist Eric Bonnin at his Long Island City studio, shown above and below in these 2012 photos by Nicole Franzen.

Eric epitomizes the kind of craftsperson we seek — collaborative, thoughtful, intelligent, creative. His work marries form and function. It is thoughtful, inspired by clean shapes, complex neutrals and lovely colors.

We’ve enjoyed getting to know Eric, his background, his process, and his inspiration — we think you will, too!

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Eric was born and grew up in Normandy. He moved to Paris and studied decorative arts and art history and worked for a PR firm in design there. He has a small house in Charente, France, he visits twice a year, which no doubt provides a welcome respite to the hurly burly of New York.

A trip to New York 20 years ago to study English serendipitously ended up igniting a passion for ceramics when he helped a roommate construct a project in tile for MTV.

New York felt more exciting than Paris, so he decided to move there taking classes in ceramics and learning on his own, ultimately working several years for Jonathan Adler and finally devoting himself exclusively to his own ceramic work full-time in 2010.

Eric works in stoneware, preferring the weight, texture, functionality, and rustic quality. His palette is inspired by the colors of Scandinavia — stony neutrals with sea colors — blues and greens for accents.

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Shapes always evolve first from a functional need and sometimes from a ‘happy accident.’ The bird vases were one such ‘happy accident’ when Eric was trying a new way of forming a pitcher pinching the spout and realizing that it looked bird-like reminding him of Picasso’s ceramic work in Vallauris in the late ’50s and ’60s with something of Brancusi’s work in there, too.

Eric thinks these aesthetic references are part of a collective memory that inform his work. His trays were inspired by the school lunch trays of his boyhood, his bowls with pour spouts remind us of kitchens of our childhood.

His favorite part of his work is seeing a shape take form from a lump of clay as his hands shape it on the wheel.

As he explains it, this is a process that involves the whole body, the right foot on the pedal, the left foot planted for balance, the two hands shaping the piece and complete mental concentration. He says that when he is making a piece the world drops away and he is totally absorbed in the process.

In a 2012 interview with blogger Nicole Franzen, Eric answered her final question with a simplicity that shines throughout his work.

“What makes you happy?” she asked him.

“A meal with friends, the feeling of clay on my hands, and birds singing,” he said.

We like those things, too.

But we’d add: Eric Bonnin’s ceramics make us happy.

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We carry much of Eric’s housewares online. Currently in stock we have the Lilas vase in both white and oatmeal glazes; his stackable stoneware bowls in  oatmealwhiteceladon blueperiwinkle blueweather green mattes; and his bird vase, a true favorite.

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  1. michael

    beautiful pottery indeed.

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