Eva Zeisel MoMA Foto Fred R. conrad for New York Times 1997

Eva Zeisel | Ceramic Designer

Young Eva Zeisel was driven by two desires: to make beautiful things, and to see the world. Her long and legendary career in ceramics helped her do both. Born in Budapest in 1906, she apprenticed to a guild of potters as a teenager, then worked in Germany and later Russia (where she was imprisoned by Stalin for 16 months) and Vienna. Landing in New York in 1938 with her husband Hans, Zeisel began her second design career.

The ceramics designer Eva Zeisel looks back on a 75-year career. What keeps her work as fresh today (her latest line debuted in 2008) as in 1926? Her sense of play and beauty, and her drive for adventure. Listen for stories from a rich, colorful life.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.


Obituary New York Times Dec 30 2011

Eva Zeisel, Ceramic Artist and Designer, Dies at 105 By William L. Hamilton

“She brought form to the organicism and elegance and fluidity that we expect of ceramics today, reaching as many people as possible,” said Paola Antonelli, a curator of architecture and design at the museum. “It’s easy to do something stunning that stays in a collector’s cabinet. But her designs reached people at the table, where they gather.”

Eva Zeisel: Her Life and her Designs – Michele Fricke

While design is widespread, it has never been popular: it speaks only to an elite. Correspondingly, design is not concerned with the popular idea of beauty. In fact, it looks down on popular taste.
My own definition of beauty includes popular taste… Beauty is not an elitist’s enjoyment. The sunset’s colors are for all to enjoy.”

Quote by Eva Zeisel


Eva Zeisel was born in 1906 in Hungary and died in 2011 in the United States. She was an influential figure in 20th century design, especially in the field of ceramics. She worked for more than 75 years and was one of the most important industrial designers in the United States. She not only designed and produced tableware in ceramics, but is also known for her furniture, light fixtures, chess sets, glassware, rugs and wallpaper designs. Her life and work were shaped by her desire to connect the past with the present, never to dismiss old styles and art forms. She called herself a “Modernist with a small ‘m’”[1], because of her separation from the Modern Movement (or “Machine Age”) in interwar Europe, which rejected any kind of decoration and did not look into historic sources for inspiration. She was more inclined to the more modern Second-Generation Arts and Crafts Movement, stressed the mass production of affordable but well designed, good quality wares and innovative production methods. All of her prototypes were finished by hand



Eva Zeisel: Compact Design Portfolio: Lucie Young; Chronicle Books

Eva Zeisel: Compact Design Portfolio
Lucie Young
Gebundene Ausgabe: 96 Seiten Verlag: Chronicle Books