From Deco Off in Paris to Salone in Milan, and now the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York, the talent at this year’s design shows is on fire. This time it was the work of ceramist and lighting designer Charlie Dumais that gave us pause. His booth at Wanted Design, a satellite fair tucked within ICFF, showcased three swoon-worthy new collections from Dumais Made, the ceramics studio he co-founded with husband, interior designer Kevin Dumais. The pair collaborate on designs together, inspired by favourite places, moments, and their natural surroundings, and then Charlie works with a small team to hand build the finished designs using slabs of clay. Pieces are often manipulated to create a textured finish, be it overt in the clay itself or subtle in the glaze. It was something visitors at the show could not resist. “Favourite moments were when people would casually, delicately, and even aggressively touch or grab our pieces,” says Charlie. “I loved seeing their reactions, sometimes quizzical and often surprised that our pieces are made from clay.”
Those pieces included a folding screen, a nod to Eileen Gray, that’s made of individual ceramic panels set within a blackened steel frame. It’s composition—rows of dots inspired by Anni Albers’ necklace and slats inspired by Josef Albers’ art and brickwork—can be reconfigured by moving the panels around or even flipping them back to front, revealing a surprising ultramarine glaze on the reverse. A table lamp and rounded side table were made using the same panels, joined together after glazing, with that blue peeking through various cut outs. A pair of shorter side tables featured ceramic tops inlaid with intricate geometrics and a crackled gold finish en hommage to French ceramist and jewelry designer Mithé Espelt. While the work of California sculptor JB Blunk inspired a series of pendant lamps that were shaped as if they had “wobbled on the wheel.” In the same way that these artisans inspired Dumais, they too were inspired before him. “For Blunk, it was a chance meeting with Isamu Noguchi, who subsequently introduced him to the renowned Japanese potters Kitaōji Rosanjin and Kaneshige Toyo, as well as surrealist painter and eventual patron Gordon Onslow-Ford. All influential figures that shifted his creative perspective,” notes Charlie.
Take the chance to have your own creative introduction and book a visit to Dumais Made's studio in bucolic Litchfield, Connecticut, through the Mayflower Inn & Spa (an Auberge resort designed by Celerie Kemble 95 miles north of Manhattan). Not only will you meet Charlie and tour the space, but you’ll also work with him to design and build a vase of your own. Who knows, it could spark the beginning of a new venture—just as Kevin’s gift of a pottery class to Charlie is what sparked the eventual launch of Dumais Made.
Photos © Courtesy of Dumais Made