ISSUE 19  |  Color Story

Atelier Dion: Ceramics for Caffeine Fiends

May 16, 2016 10:30 AM

BY Cheryl Locke

In just a few short years, Rie and Jay Dion of ceramics studio Atelier Dion have attracted a large and loyal following. Early on, San Francisco cafes placed orders–first Four Barrel, then Sightglass and Bicycle Coffee, a notable turn of events because baristas are a famously fussy crowd. What makes Atelier Dion so special? Their vessels of unglazed clay are designed to enhance coffee drinking. The Dions, both with MFAs from SF’s California College of Arts (CCA), concocted bespoke shades of tans and browns to complement the color of coffee. Plus, the clay bodies themselves serve as good insulators, keeping the beverage warm while providing a satisfyingly tactile heft. As Rie says, “Once you get it, you can feel it.”

Photography courtesy of Atelier Dion, unless otherwise noted.


Above: Rie (left) and Jay Dion met at CCA and used their honeymoon fund to set up shop in West Oakland. The couple raised $50,000 via a Kickstarter campaign, which they used to build a new kiln and press.


Above: Mugs, $35 each, made exclusively for third-wave coffee roaster Sightglass; they’re available at the cafe’s two SF locations. Photograph via Sightglass.


Above: Atelier Dion Clay Mugs in a range of colors are $38 from the General Store.

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Above: Clay to make slips for slip-casting at Atelier Dion.


Above: Mason stains are added to the clay to create custom colors.


Above: Liquid slip being poured into plaster molds of various sizes, from espresso cups to latte mugs.


Above: Rie grew up in Japan and says she developed her appreciation for handmade ceramics at a young age “while eating mom’s food.”


Above: Beni, the studio hound, guards new blue-edged mugs.


Above: In addition to coffee mugs, Atelier Dion has launched a tableware line called Cobalt. A place setting–platter, plate, and bowl–is $140.


Above: Three-Ounce Color Clay Cups in shades of cream and pink; contact Atelier Dion for details.

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Above: Teacups made in collaboration with Union Made, a general store in SF. These examples are sold out, but similar cups are available from Atelier Dion. Photograph via Union Made.

To see more of the collection and inquire about availability and prices, visit Atelier Dion.

Inspired to start your own collection of handmade ceramics? Browse our Ceramics section. Some of our favorites include: