Gidon Bing first mesmerised us with his works while we were visiting New Zealand, where he is based. His glazes, almost powdery and soft had us wanting to touch them, his work, so clean and minimal had us thinking about how many things we could replace in our crockery cupboard! Since our first interactions with his work we have watched him experiment and develop as an artist and with each year our list of things to buy gets longer and longer. We chat to Gidon about his work and processes.
Your pieces are coveted by collectors all over the world. How did you get into ceramics and how did you evolve from starting out throwing clay to running a business under your own name?
As a teen, I was briefly mentored by NZ potter Barry Brickell which motivated me to learn some rudimentary throwing and hand building skills. I didn't put these to use until a couple of decades later when I began making large ceramic sculptural works and discovered the joys of modelling and mould-making. The growth of a market for the ceramics was unintentional - a few local designer/retailers liked my initial objects and started to stock them which gave me an excuse to do more modelling and come up with new forms, within a couple of years I had a back catalogue of 50+ objects in production.
Your ceramic signature is very sleek, refined and immaculate in detail – elegant essentials. What are the items you enjoy pottering the most and what are your most popular pieces?
The most enjoyable objects to make are often the serendipitous designs that are stumbled upon or accidental but occasionally the highly technical designs that have to be laboured over and endlessly prototyped ( like the twin wall insulated objects) are also satisfying. The most popular pieces vary over time and market but cups, platters and vases seem to be a constant.
What some might not know – you’re not only a ceramicist, you also fit out interiors, create wooden sculptures and have collaborated with fashion brands. Can you tell us more about your work beyond ceramics?
Sculpture/fine art usually takes up most of my studio practice, ceramics furniture, textiles and interiors are generally side projects. Most of my interiors work has been local ( retail and more recently hospitality). Much of this work is centered around Japanese modernist or modular style with built-in furniture and cabinetry with a particular focus on function and economy of space. Most of my product work is in Asia or the States and is currently focused on textiles and woodenware and with a little luck, some flatpack kit-set furniture in the near future.
Maquette 2 sculpture shop here
Have you always had an interest in doing many things at the same time? Where does your interest in these fields stem from?
Yes, I think so, it all feels pretty homogenous and the different materials, processes and disciplines all seem to interrelate. Some of the interests are intergenerational - I come from a family of architects, designers, biologists, I also worked in archaeology and studied anthropology and religious history before going on to merge these with formal study in sculpture. Elements of primitivism and classicism consciously and unconsciously inform my work and interests. I have spent a lot of time in ateliers and studios of master artisans from the central and eastern avant guard.
We’ve read that your studio is in a refurbished boat shed. That sounds really cool and unusual – how did you go about creating a space for your artistry?
It grew organically and chaotically until it got to a point where there were too many processes happening in one place and then I build a second dedicated ceramics/mould making/printmaking studio in my basement and split up most of the dirty work. The boatshed is now mostly for model making/digital design/general showroom and fabrication space for the occasional large sculptural project...and fishing while I fall asleep on the couch.
What is your environment when you create? Do you work by yourself or with others, do you find inspiration inside or outside, what kind of music do you listen to when you’re in the zone?
It's both a well designed/structured space as well as a chaotic mess with a multitude of projects and experiments in various stages of completion depending on the time of year. Most of my deep craftwork such as steam bending wood and complex mould/model making is done alone, but I work a lot with designers on other things. Inspiration is often born out of synergies in these projects/relationships but, just as often it comes from playing with material, form and space until something sticks. Music in the studio is constant, everything from Aphix Twin to Thelonious Monk.
Interiors by Gidon Bing for Goodform
Large salad bowl available here
Can you share with us what you’re currently working on? Any new ceramics in the making or are you focusing on other areas at the moment?
Yes, I have a bunch of modernist ceramic objects in the pipeline, including a bunch of commissions/collabs for Everyday Needs and Kowtow. I have some heirloom quality woven rugs made in the Rift Valley Kenya being produced with NZ brand Kahoko and a collection of brass and bentwood sculptural works for Lane Crawford Hong Kong. I'm also working on stage three interior fit out for Goodform and a fun project on an off-grid mountain yurt.
To see more of the Gidon Bing's ceramic range check him out on Maker's Mrkt