Black & White Contrasts

From dark Danish winters to Iron Age bog mummies to opera costumes, the influences and inspirations of ceramics designer Christine Roland are as diverse as they are intriguing. Her one-of-a-kind pieces are now available exclusively in our two Berlin stores.

To Christine Roland, ceramics are anything but inanimate objects. Her pieces are full of life – from the earth that gave the clay; from her hands shaping the pieces, leaving their telltale marks behind; from the people that ultimately use her creations in their daily lives.

Roland’s work draws a connective thread between herself, the objects she creates, and the person who will eventually use them. Her creativity extends freely to a wide range of items, from cups, bowls, spoons, and plates to plant pots, candle holders, and birdhouses, but one aim informs everything she makes: “It’s really important to me that my pieces are utilitarian. That’s the ultimate for me,” she told us during a recent studio visit. A broad range of her creations are now available in both our Berlin stores.

Scroll down to read about what inspires her style, and why juxtapositions inform her work.

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Connection and individuality are also why Roland chooses to create every unique piece entirely by hand, eschewing perfection along with the symmetry that working with a pottery wheel would provide. “The human aspect is what I really love,” she says.

She began her creative career working with an entirely different material – not heavy stoneware, but flowing fabrics. After studying tailoring in her native Denmark, she worked as an opera costumier in Antwerp before ending up in Berlin to study design. That was 11 years ago, and she’s long since become rooted in her adopted city, in particular in her Kreuzberg ‘hood. She has her storefront atelier and showroom on Pücklerstraße, fires her creations in a kiln across the street, and lives around the corner with her family. A sense of place and local connection is important to her, and all her materials are sourced from Germany. “I think it’s a beautiful thing to work within local parameters,” she says.

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Her collection is a play in contrasts: Bright, crisp porcelain plates that look like shards and dark, solid stoneware, finished with various blackish glazes from matte to glossy-metallic. It’s a juxtaposition informed by the winter palette of her native Denmark, with its dark landscape against stark sky, black rocks against icy water. It’s not only her roots that she draws upon in her work, but something more ancient as well. A main draw of stoneware is that it was one of the first materials humans began creating with. And the color of her matte black stoneware is reminiscent, she says, of the skin of “bog people” of Denmark, 4th-century mummies preserved in peat bogs.

Even here, however, she plays with juxtaposition. Without knowing the story behind her pieces or their maker, someone could see them as either very contemporary in style, or very ancient. And that, says Roland, is part of the fun.

Take a look at her website.

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