Handmade ceramics were always present in Zoë Kantor’s childhood home—a product of her psychologist dad’s hobby throwing and glazing clay to de-stress. “He produced a ton of stuff, and I don’t think I understood how special it was at the time,” Zoë says. “I assumed everyone drank their coffee out of colorful, handmade mugs.” Though the pottery connection hadn’t 100% clicked yet when Zoë headed off to study at Tulane, when one of her graduation requirements was to take a course in three-dimensional art, she knew exactly which medium she was interested in. Soon, she was heading to her other classes covered in clay from extra hours spent at the wheel.
After graduation, Zoë headed home to New York and found a studio in the city to help her get back into the swing of things. Around the same time, she also started working at the East Village design go-to Stillhouse, a jewelry and home-goods store with a focus on independent designers. Fascinated by industrial elements like locks and bolts, Zoë began playing around with inserting moveable loops into the walls of her delicate porcelain bowls and vases, finding a process that worked after months of trial and error. She started selling her pieces in 2016, honing the designs with input from Stillhouse founder Urte Tyalite—but you can probably guess who her most important critic is. As she explains, “My dad is so supportive, but he’s definitely the one who’s not afraid to tell me when something’s not quite right!”