Los Angeles-based artist and designer Bari Ziperstein champions creative engineering and ceramic innovation while focusing his practice on feminist values. In addition to collections ready to ship, his design company BZIPPY often collaborates on bespoke ceramic furniture, planters and lighting fixtures with the country’s top interior designers. Pictured: A digital collaboration with interior designer Charlotte Taylor. Courtesy of BZIPPY

It is not surprising that it is difficult to make a living as an artist. Studio space, material costs, gallery commissions, access to faculty positions, it’s all part of the artist’s dilemma. Sometimes, in order to have the freedom to pursue the creative practice of their dreams, artists turn to the production of more “functional” works in order to open up possibilities and generate income. This is the general story behind the ceramist Bari Zipersteinpopular design brand BZIPPY, which she launched in 2008. “The reason I launched a [design business] was a way to stop being a teacher. I needed more durable work, so I started a business practice in clay.

While ceramists often find themselves crossing the boundaries between craft, art and design, Ziperstein’s multi-faceted creative enterprise is unique in how it pushes the boundaries of innovation and design. experimentation in clay, while balancing the distinct requirements of fine art and commercial practice. Drawing inspiration from everything from his upbringing in Chicago to brutalist architectural forms to Soviet agitprop, Ziperstein challenges conventional notions of flagstone construction through the inventive forms of his projects. The difference in its dual practice lies in its approaches to the surface.


Earlier this year, Ziperstein presented new artwork at Nina Johnson Ships exhibition in Miami. On the picture : Checkered ship for our time, 2021 (far left, ground) and Towards a new dawn, 2021, sandstone and glaze (far left, central display). Courtesy of Nina Johnson Miami

“The way I treat the surface of fine art is through more detailed, pattern-based sculpture that references history,” she says, noting her fascination with Cold War propaganda designs. (This can be seen in its depiction by Charles Moffett Gallery in New York as well as a recent exhibition at the Nina Johnson Gallery in Miami.) “Design is more about glaze and atmosphere, it’s about function.” But the challenge of BZIPPY’s sculptural collections also works, she says: “This is invention in ‘what is a side table? and ‘what is a planter?’ ”

A recent collection of architecturally scale side tables available through The perfect future highlights the paradoxical nature of Ziperstein’s work. Evolving from the designer’s Tube collection, paintings begin with a sketch which is then translated and designed via a digital model in SketchUp before being hand-modeled in clay using large-scale slabs and tubes. extruded. For Ziperstein, the iterative physical process is essential. “Traditionally, ceramic furniture or ceramic work of this magnitude, in general, has been made by men,” she explains. “I didn’t want to sit down when I was working. Instead, each piece has a bodily relationship to you as you craft or design it.

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Ziperstein’s most recent initiative, BZIPPY PRINT is a collaborative poster series developed as a marketing tool that aims to amplify influential voices through ceramics, digital art and fiction. The first edition presents here a speculative fiction essay by writer Andy Campbell and a digital image rendered by Charlotte Taylor and Victor Roussel. Courtesy of BZIPPY

Due to the scale of production and the work itself, all BZIPPY parts are developed by a collaborative team of nine manufacturers, enamel and kiln specialists, and digital design associates. “I’m trying to redefine what it’s like to have an art studio and workers’ rights are very important to us.” Intersectional feminist values ​​inform many aspects of Ziperstein’s business, from providing its employees with equitable wages and health care to development. scholarships and grants who support new QTBIPOC designers (queer, trans, black, native, of color) interested in expanding their knowledge of clay. “Ceramics is a question of access. We use our profits to create more access in our own way. “

Ziperstein adds that access – to education, to space, to great ovens – is part of the reason ceramic furniture has such a moment in contemporary home decor. While clay furniture is harder to make, easier to break, and sometimes more uncomfortable to use, it is becoming more and more appealing to collectors and everyday consumers looking to fill their homes with transformative items that tell a story. history and permeate a space. with a connection to the manufacturer.


A BZIPPY planter featured in a poolside lounge designed by Kelly Wearstler Courtesy of Manolo Yllera

“The appeal of ceramic furniture, and in particular that of Bari, is that it really is a work of art that also fulfills a function,” says David Alhadeff, founder of the contemporary design gallery The perfect future. “As the collection moves more and more into the design arena, ceramics is an amazing place for a collector to start, to begin to bridge the gap between art and design. “

Ziperstein stresses the importance of living with the work. “I take all my seconds home, so I know what it feels like.” There is something about the sound of a ceramic mug on a ceramic side table. There is something about having this unique item in the house where you really have access to the artist.

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A BZIPPY exclusive for Commune, the Hex lamp is inspired by brutalist architecture and geometry. Courtesy of BZIPPY / Commune

BZIPPY collections and bespoke work can be found in the spaces of some of the nation’s top interior designers, including Kelly Wearstler, Peter Marino, Nicole Hollis, Oliver Furth and Jeff Andrews, as well as celebrity homes like Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga. “BZIPPY’s work has its own popularity in the world and I am happy that it has it because it allows me to have the other world, that is to say my work of art”, Ziperstein said.

Labels aside, all of Ziperstein’s work pushes the boundaries of base material. She concludes, “There is something about trying to reinvent things with clay and challenge the material to its finest edge before it breaks.”

You may also enjoy ‘Ceramics and Architecture: The Legacy of Betty Woodman

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