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A Ceramics Collection That Captures California's Gorgeous Light

Pax Ceramics' new series evokes the hazy hues and dreamy quality of the Southern California atmosphere while remaining utilitarian.

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For the uninitiated, Southern California is little more than palm trees, sandy beaches, and endless traffic. But the artist and designer Mia Herron Kantor looked beyond the cliches for her debut collection at Venice-based Pax Ceramics by evoking California’s hazy, resplendent atmosphere and sculptural landscape.

Made of white stoneware, the series of bowls, cups, vases, and carafes have simple but refined shapes. Painted with soothing gradients of aquamarine, sky blue, and coral, the ceramics echo the sky’s subtly shifting colors as the sun tracks its course over the basin from sunrise to the golden hour. The collection’s clean lines and graceful color palette evoke the work of James Turrell and Georgia O’Keeffe as well as midcentury-modern design and the Light and Space movement.

Southern California light has been the subject of art and design for decades. In Lawrence Weschler’s New Yorker essay on the city’s luminous glow, the various artists and writers he interviews describe the light in the city as "almost dreamlike," a "magic-meditative sense of presence." Robert Irwin, one of Kantor’s influences, tells Weschler that the light makes the world seem like it is "made up of energy rather than matter."

To form each piece's specific shape, Kantor decided to combine modern techniques with tried-and-true ceramics methods. She first created the shapes digitally using production design software and 3D-printed models, and cast the collection from the molds. Her discovery of the airbrushing technique enabled her to paint each ceramic with a smooth gradient.

Kantor hopes that her pieces’ pops of color and utilitarian nature will be used daily rather than treated like precious objects—as an added bonus, the pieces are microwave- and dishwasher-safe. Either way, Pax Ceramics’s luminous dishware brings a little bit of California sunshine to any kitchen.

[Photos: Chris Adler/Styling: Mia Herron Kantor]

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