The influence of natural forms and life cycles dominate the ceramic objects created by Anthony Harris and Gerhard Swart of Ceramic Matters. Based in Johannesburg, the duo have worked as Ceramic Matters since 1997 and have built an impressive collection of work from their South African studio…

What inspires you?

Nature and our immediate environment. The things that we come into contact with, i.e. when one travels; we have just moved into a 300 year old farm house near Cape Town. The experience and surroundings of the old and the new situation reflect in our work.


How would you describe your work?

A reflection of our inner thoughts and sensibility…an awareness of the qualities and the properties of the medium we work in. (what you can and cannot do with clay)

How do you achieve such intricate shapes + designs?

The elements (Branches) are modeled and molded into the design, reflecting both the qualities of the organic object and providing the necessary elements for a new functional form. Once the product is dry, it is airbrushed with an engobe (colored slip/clay) and fired. Our approach and the use of the color highlight makes for a clean and contemporary object. The play on the contrasting surfaces of matte and gloss creates a visually interesting and tactile surface.


Where do you like to work?

Our property consists of the original farm house and two old barns. The one barn is our studio.



Who are your favorite artists and designers?

Tom Dixon, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Grayson Perry — they each create visual and soulful work…

What’s your approach to decorating?

One’s environment should reflect one’s personality and interests.


Tell us about your collection for west elm. How did it come together?

The objects were inspired by the shapes of trees and branches; often new life grows out of decaying matter. We find this eternal life cycle inspirational and exciting. Often plants find new life; growing in debris — old logs and branches — and demonstrates nature’s way of recycling. Many of the elements of the pieces for west elm were inspired by indigenous Aloe and the rosette or corsage shapes they form when growing on a branch.


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