Remembering Designer Eva Zeisel

All Things Considered host Melissa Block remembers Eva Zeisel, one of the premier ceramic designers of the last century. She died last week at her New City, N.Y., home at the age of 105.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

A moment now to remember a woman who captured the world in graceful lines and sensuous curves. Eva Zeisel was a renowned ceramic designer. She died on Friday at the age of 105. Seven years ago, Zeisel was profiled on NPR, still hard at work at age 98.

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EVA ZEISEL: Well, 98 is not different from all the years before that, and how long it will last, I have no idea, but I don't feel that it will be ending any day now.

BLOCK: Over her long career, Eva Zeisel's ceramics could be found at The Museum of Modern Art and at Crate & Barrel. Her tableware has playful, rounded shapes, inspired by the human form, that she intended to feel good in your hand.

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ZEISEL: I'm hardly ever doing designs of straight lines. I'm usually doing curves probably because I consist myself of rather curves instead of straight lines, meaning I'm a little bit fat.

BLOCK: Eva Zeisel was born in Hungary to an intellectual Jewish family. She was drawn to pottery at an early age. And in her 20s, she moved to Stalinist Russia, where she became artistic director of the state's china and glass industry. But then in 1936, Zeisel was arrested, falsely accused of conspiring to assassinate Stalin. She was imprisoned for some 16 months, much of that time in solitary confinement. When she was released from prison, Zeisel went to Austria, only to flee as the Nazis invaded. Ultimately, she made it to New York, where her design career flourished. Zeisel called herself a maker of useful things.

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ZEISEL: If you try to do something perfect, I think this is the last time you do anything. If you feel it, this is you have now reached perfection. There can't be anything beyond it.

BLOCK: Designer Eva Zeisel died peacefully at her home in New City, New York, at age 105. She was still designing, by the way, nearly to the end. A new line of glass lamps is due out early this year.

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