I met Renáta Zsiga at the ÜZEM ceramics workshop, where she, as co-founder and instructor, introduces interested parties to the mysteries of ceramics. He does all this with endless patience and, despite his young age, with a solid professional background. Now he has finally lined up to present his own work and designed a capsule collection for us, which is only available at Printa. I asked him to tell me a little about himself and his work.
When did you decide you wanted to work in ceramics?
I also studied art in primary school, and then when choosing secondary school I already knew that I definitely wanted to be an artist, but even then I thought that graphics was for me. Fortunately for me, the admissions teachers saw that it was much more ideal for me to work in space, so they did not enroll me in the graphic arts major, but in ceramics, which was the second major. There, I fell in love with the profession almost immediately, so there was no question that I would go on to university after the 5-year training. In Szeged, I studied ceramics at the Tömörkeny István Art Vocational Secondary School and High School, then after graduation I stayed for the fifth year, to take the OKJ exam. After that, I studied ceramic design at MOME, but in the end I didn't graduate.
What motivated you to start your COMPANY? What is MY WORK about for you?
After university, I fell into nothingness, like many of my generation. There was an opportunity to get involved in the production of building ceramics. This is how I met Emil, to whom I owe a lot, he brought a completely new perspective to ceramics and other areas of life as well. We created ÜZEM together and have been doing it together ever since. Since it's mostly me, many people think that I'm doing it alone, but I can't emphasize enough that it wouldn't work alone. :) Our starting point was that we definitely need firing furnace capacity for production, but we could make these furnaces available to anyone in the interim times when larger works are being prepared. Since there was no place with a similar profile in Budapest at the time, both professional and hobby ceramicists quickly found us. From the burning of rent, everything developed organically, first with the opening of the free-to-rent workshop, then with education. In the past year, since we started, a community has developed that anyone can easily connect to if they are interested in any direction of ceramics. Wonderful objects, professional relationships and friendships were born through ceramic making. The latter, maybe what I'm personally most proud of, because I think that's what it should be about.
ÜZEM ceramics workshop - photo: Balázs Turós
What inspires your own creations?
Clay is almost always my biggest source of inspiration from which I work. I try to make everyday objects that fulfill their function in the simplest possible way and, due to their simplicity, easily fit into any space.
What characterizes your work and objects?
I like to show the clay I work with, so I use relatively little glaze. Fortunately, these high-fired stoneware materials exist today, which burn compactly enough to withstand everyday wear and tear in the dishwasher even without glaze. I often use engobos instead of glazes. In this way, I can show several structures and colors within one object, leaving completely natural matte surfaces and traces of production. I have been using my own items in my kitchen for years. I've never liked overly designed objects that can only be used in one way, so I'm also characterized by simplicity in terms of form. I am a person who boldly touches an object and uses it for the function it needs. A flat plate is often the best cover for the leftovers in the fridge, or a cup is the perfect candle holder for the table setting. I strive to create objects that encourage people to use this freely.