Eva Portrait

About Eva Zeisel

Hungarian-born designer, Eva Zeisel (1906–2011), had a prolific career designing well past the age of one hundred. Born into an educated family (her mother was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Budapest), Eva entered the Hungarian Royal Academy of Fine Arts at seventeen as a painter. Wooed by ceramics (and its more dependable income), she switched gears to apprentice under the last pottery master in the medieval guild system and was the first female journeyman. Her early career was spent in Germany developing the sensuous, flowing, and biomorphic ceramics she would later be known for. At the age of twenty-six, Eva moved to Soviet Russia and became an artistic director in the government’s china and glass industry but her time there took an abrupt turn in 1936 when she was falsely accused of plotting against Stalin. After sixteen months in prison (mostly in solitary confinement), she was deported to Austria and thereafter fled the threat of Nazi invasion.

Eva and her husband immigrated to New York with sixty-four dollars to their name, but she quickly established herself as a teacher at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and a ceramics designer with companies such as Bay Ridge Specialty Company, Red Wing Pottery, and Sears & Roebuck. Though known for furniture, rugs, tiles, and lamps in wood, metal, glass, and plastic, she revealed ceramics remained her favorite: “... because I can feel (the clay) with my hands.” In 1942, she was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art and Castleton China to design an all-white modern dinner service that was exhibited as the first one-woman show at MoMA. Her “Museum Shape” established her reputation in the United States and her later work brought the clean, casual shapes of modernist design into middle-class homes with furnishings that encouraged a postwar desire for less formal living.

Eva’s works are in the permanent collections of museums worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York; the British Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum in London; and the Bröhan Museum in Germany. In 2005, Eva won the Lifetime Achievement award from the Cooper-Hewett National Design Museum.

Young Eva
Eva Ceramics
Eva with Bird

“To describe our profession otherwise, we are actually concerned with the playful search for beauty. That means the playful search for beauty was call the first activity of Man…

Eva Ceramics Collection
Eva at MoMA

...The word ‘playful’ is a necessary aspect of our work because, actually, one of our problems is that we have to make, produce lovely things throughout all of life. Playful is therefore an important part of our quality as designers.”

Eva holding Ceramics
Silly Eva
Eva Portrait
Eva Ceramics

Eva Zeisel + FilzFelt

Eva Zeisel was a “maker of useful things.” Born in Hungary with her early career spent in the potteries of Germany and Russia, Eva’s sensuous forms were inspired by the curves of the human body and those found in nature. Though best known for her modernist ceramics, the Eva Zeisel Collection takes inspiration from her room dividers and glazed tiles in six shapes of acoustic tiles that feature curvilinear forms nesting together to create soft, fluid patterning. In true Eva Zeisel spirit, the playful patterns may go bold with saturated colors or soft and sensual with neutral tones. The lightweight, sound softening tiles assemble in customizable patterns of pure wool felt and are easy to install with standard wallcovering adhesive.

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Part of the MillerKnoll collective