Modern Mediterranean Ceramics

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by Lucy Feagins, Editor

Italian tradition meets contemporary design. Styling – Sarah Ellison. Photo – Maree Homer.

‘After travelling to Italy on holiday last year, we discovered some amazing ceramicists, still crafting by hand in family run workshops.’ Styling – Sarah Ellison. Photo – Maree Homer.

‘The most exciting thing about having a ceramics business would definitely be the opportunity for us to travel to Southern Italy each year and working with local artisans.’ Styling – Sarah Ellison. Photo – Maree Homer.

‘The most challenging thing would be that we have chosen to import a considerably heavy, fragile product!’ Styling – Sarah Ellison. Photo – Maree Homer.

‘Alessi is one of Italy’s most famous artisans, creating pieces inspired by the crossroad of culture and people of Sicily.’ Styling – Sarah Ellison. Photo – Maree Homer.

‘Through collaboration with them we have adapted their traditional design and given it a modern take for the Australian market through colour, whilst still remaining true to their heritage.’ Styling – Sarah Ellison. Photo – Maree Homer.

‘We fell in love with the pieces and knew we had to bring them to Australia!’ Styling – Sarah Ellison. Photo – Maree Homer.

Atelier’s beautiful ceramics, informed by Mediterranean heritage. Styling – Sarah Ellison. Photo – Maree Homer.

Atelier was built on Melissa’s love of discovering objects and interiors, Sven’s business knowledge, and their combined loved of travel. Styling – Sarah Ellison. Photo – Maree Homer.

The origin story of Atelier Studios treads a slightly unusual path. While travelling in Italy, Melissa Jackson and Sven Geboers discovered local ceramicists working in family run workshops, and without any previous intention to become homewares importers… they founded a business.  ‘We fell in love with the pieces and knew we had to bring them to Australia!’ Melissa recalls.

The pieces in question are sourced from ‘the very heart of the Mediterranean’, in the regions of Puglia and Sicily. After discovering a number of local ceramics workshops, Melissa and Sven began working closely with the local makers, supporting their traditional practice, but also re-imagining some of their work with contemporary flair, through bold use of colour.

A richness of craftsmanship and heritage is evident in all Atelier Studios ranges. Melissa describes how the Fasano Family from Puglia, and Giacomo Alessi from Sicily ‘carefully make each piece using traditional processes, techniques and equipment, all of which have been passed down through the generations. The Fasano family, in particular, have an incredible history, with technical knowledge and experience handed down through eighteen generations (just let that sit for a moment- eighteen!). Melissa tell us, ‘the earliest objects produced by them have been preserved in museums and private collections.’

Atelier Studios’ debut collections are inspired by the ‘Italian relationship with family, food and the sea’. For the Melissa and Sven, a strong connection to Italy presents both joys and challenges. However, the challenges of freighting heavy fragile product across the seas (!) are well and truly off-set by the opportunity for annual work trips to Southern Italy, and the relationships Melissa and Sven have developed with local families and artisans along the way.

Source: Modern Mediterranean Ceramics

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