PBP Insights

Porcelain's New Turn

How do you reinvent a centuries-old art form? Turkey’s community of makers has an answer


Once you learn just a bit about porcelain, it's easy to understand why so many of us think of it as the Rolls Royce of ceramics. With its high firing point, which extracts all moisture—eliminating any porous qualities—it is at once both light and durable, glossy and gorgeous. As the kids would say, it's built different.

But pedigree doesn't have to mean traditional. Take one look at the porcelain homewares crafted by a new wave of Turkish makers, and it's easy to think of porcelain less as Rolls and more as Tesla.

Santimetre Studio

When Tulya Madra launched Santimetre Studio in 2009, the Turkish ceramicist decided to buck tradition—she would take this ancient form of ceramics (which dates back some 1,500 years to China) and supercharge it. She would create handmade homewares imbued with unmistakable energy, fusing old and new.

"My idea was to cast everyday objects we grew up with in Limoges porcelain and glaze them in bright colors and patterns," says Madra, who lives on the Aegean seaside town of Ayvalik. "The kind of homewares my grandmother used in the '60s, like Duralex glasses, but porcelain."

The idea clicked. Madra eventually opened a shop in Soho, supplying restaurants and hotels in New York and elsewhere—all the while still producing her wares in Santimetre's Ayavalik studio. The international press picked up on her, from Turkish Vogue to Maison Française.

Ozlem Tuna

And soon she wasn’t alone. Just zip through PBP's collection of Turkish makers, and you'll find plenty of fellow porcelain artisans. There are the hand-shaped and painted mugs, cups and plates from Ozlem Tuna, who leans her background as a jewelry designer. Iz Design by Feliz evokes both quirky tea party vibes, with its nubby tea cups and bowls, and mid-century design with its racing-stripe platters. The pastel tones of Tass Porcelain's handmade and painted cups recall the kind of cups you might have found in a well-appointed powder room from the 1970s. Muj Design pairs matte finishes with glossy highlights in an array of beguiling colors.

Tass Porcelain

It's a giant leap from Turkey's centuries-old ceramics culture, with its ornately, hand-painted tableware. These pieces reaches forward more than back. Which is a sentiment that Madra is currently shaping in her mind. Post pandemic, she moved back from New York to Ayvalik full time. Having helped forge the future of Turkish porcelain, she is now re-strategizing her own future, honing the size of her operations as she remains closely pinned to the source of her inspirations. "Making porcelain by hand takes time," says Madra. "But I hope I will never stop doing ceramics. There is so much you can do. It is such a vast medium."

Muj Design

Shop Porcelain

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