Traditional craftsmanship meets Swiss design in this new homewares brand, Atlas Crafts. Based in Zurich, Isabell Gatzen and Werner Ladinig designs “contemporary objects for the home.” They partner with traditional craftsmen to produce their inherently Swiss creations. Atlas Crafts creates a dialogue between contemporary design and traditional craft by utilizing the knowledge of master artisans to produce high quality, handmade objects in the visual language of today’s most coveted aesthetics.

Atlas Crafts debuted with a collection of modular ceramics called EDITION N°1. This capsule collection has ten different designs that make twenty-four different vessels. The minimalist vases are made of porcelain, volcanic sand and finished with 24k gold luster.  Each of the vessels is made by master potters in Ubud, Bali where Isabell had spent three months with the masters to perfect the production.  Here we talk with Isabell about the reasoning behind working with master artisans as well as her own personal journey with ceramics.

GLAZE: What was the inspiration behind starting Atlas Crafts

ISABELL GATZEN: Atlas Crafts is based in Zürich, with an aim to collaborate with a global portfolio of master artisans. We design and produce contemporary objects for the home, merging traditional craftsmanship and high-quality materials with designs rooted in Swiss aesthetics.

We aim to create lasting objects that can be passed down to future generations. Objects made by hand have an inherent beauty and timeless quality that we feel adds warmth, heart, and friendliness to our homes.

G: What is your “unique global perspective on the crafts movement?”

IG: Traditional craftsmanship is faced with the task of creating value in a world of e-commerce and mass production, at the same time, as stated above, we feel that traditional craftsmanship brings value to everyday lives, with certain qualities that cannot be replaced by machines. The role of the designer is to be the guide for the craftsman, with a keen eye for beauty, functionality and a global perspective.

Our biggest challenge was to find our own unique approach to an ancient craft and produce truly unique objects that juxtapose contemporary design with traditional workmanship. We hope to foster ongoing dialogues with international artisans that lead us to meet even more lovely craftspeople.

G: Why did you choose Bali as the first point of inspiration as well as hiring the artisans being based there?

IG: In 2013 I began a residency in Ubud, Bali in an Art Center founded by an Italian couple that leads a production facility specialized in ceramics entirely thrown by hand. They see the master artisan as one who is truly understanding a material via a process of learning, experience, discipline, and patience. Craftsmanship in Bali is deeply rooted in traditions passing from one generation to the next and this is an important part of Balinese culture. I was able to spend 4 months studying ceramics in their studio alongside extremely skilled people I simply loved working with. This experience profoundly influenced who we would work with to develop these porcelain objects.

The 3 months I spent in Bali during the development process inspired the design and materials of EDITION N°1. Minimal forms and modular constructions are combined with finishes influenced by Bali itself. Inspiration is drawn from traditional black and white patterns, the gold ornamentations richly used in Balinese culture, and the black volcanic sands of the island shores.

G: I remember you talking about knowing how do to ceramics, why did you decide to work with artisans for Atlas Crafts?

IG: I personally very much value the aspect of mastering a profession or craft. In my search to master my profession as a designer,  I have to understand materials and production processes amongst other things. Being a student in the art center enabled me to make ceramics and understand the material, but in order to achieve the quality and perfection that you can see in our Atlas Collection, you simply have to work with master artisans.

G: Can you tell me a bit more about the pieces in the collection, what are your favorite pieces and why?

IG: This capsule collection consists of 10 different designs which lead to 24 different vessels.  My favorite pieces are the modular ones. This idea developed during the production process. I had a vase which was quite big at the top and it broke during the firing. So I thought, why not produce this design in two parts?  It leads me to be able to create silhouettes and combine materials that are impossible to achieve in porcelain and in one piece. This collection was a challenge for the artisans since most pieces are very tall and porcelain is very difficult to throw by hand.

G: What are you working on now?

IG: Today I finished the designs for our next Edition FW18/19 which we will show at London Design Week in December. The collection draws from studies of cartography, and fascinations of white porcelain in combination with the varying opacities and vivid colors of Indigo blue.


Images courtesy of Atlas Crafts