Here's How to Build a Modern Ceramics Collection
Molly's monochromatic clay collection.
When the jewelry designer Molly Zimmerman of MM Druck is looking for fuel for her sculptural—yet easy-to-wear—silver pieces, she just looks around her home, which is filled with a seriously cool array of modern and postmodern ceramics she’s acquired over the years. “I’ve always been a collector,” Molly explains. “As my interests evolved, so did the objects—thankfully, my miniature glass animal figurine collection was left behind somewhere in adolescence. It’s through ceramics I’ve found an accessible way to outfit my home with art that’s both decorative and functional.” A hobby that combines shopping with function and design in mind? Sign us up.
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
“I look for beautifully crafted pieces that are sophisticated, sometimes playful, and eternally modern—the same principles and qualities that govern my own designs. I’m very attracted to experimentation and innovation. Modernism came in the early 20th century along with rapid social and technological changes and transformed the world into something much more global and forward-thinking, and pieces from that period reflect that. In terms of art, I’m drawn to experimental forms and the emphasis on materials and process and its propensity toward abstraction. Some of my favorite designers include Eva Zeisel, Tapio Wirkkala, Ruth Duckworth, Ettore Sottsass, and Angelo Mangiarotti, and I look for pieces inspired by their shapes and designs. I also love Bauer Pottery and their line called California Art Pottery, designed starting in the thirties by Matt Carlton, Ray Murray, and Tracy Irwin. You can actually find those pieces pretty affordably on eBay or in antique stores.”
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
“I have collector’s books that identify specific hallmarks that should be present if the piece is authentic. Some of the best and most useful are Collector's Encyclopedia of Bauer Pottery by Jack Chipman, Scandinavia: Ceramics and Glass in the Twentieth Century by Jennifer Hawkins Opie, and Eva Zeisel: Life, Design, and Beauty by Pat Moore and Pirco Wolframm. But I’m also not opposed to buying something inauthentic or unmarked if I fancy the design.”
NEVER TAKE A VACATION FROM HUNTING
“I end up traveling to England often, so some of my favorite markets are Old Spitalfields, Portobello Road, Covent Garden, and Alfies Antique Market. In my experience, the dealers in those places are very knowledgeable and are more interested in imparting the history than making a sale. When I’m at home in L.A., I check out the Rose Bowl Flea Market, the Long Beach Antique Market, The Pasadena City College Flea Market, and, of course, estate sales.”
FIT IT ALL IN
“It’s a careful balancing act as every shelf and sill in my home is lined with ceramics, and I’m constantly rearranging them when a new favorite enters the scene. But I like to find balance in asymmetry, so I have to play around quite a bit with the heights, shapes, and colors until I find something that pleases me. If you get into collecting, you shouldn’t be afraid to really use what you find.”