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A Ceramics and Kitchenware Company to Watch: East Fork, the Heath of the East

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A Ceramics and Kitchenware Company to Watch: East Fork, the Heath of the East

April 26, 2018

We’re calling it now: This is the new company to watch on the Eastern Seaboard.

We’ve been taking note of Asheville, North Carolina–based East Fork since the end of 2016, when potter Sarah Kersten tipped us off to their storage jars; we were quickly enamored of their line of sturdy, unfussy ceramics in muted earth tones (see East Fork Pottery: A North Carolina Studio from a Matisse Heir). Back then, it was a small company helmed by ceramicist Alex Matisse (the great-grandson of Henri Matisse and step-grandson of Marcel Duchamp), and his wife Connie; they’d built East Fork—kiln included—from the ground up on a rural piece of land in the North Carolina mountains. When we last checked in a few months ago, we noted that, in addition to their large-scale but hand-thrown line of ceramics, they were expanding into the world of unusual kitchen tools and curios (see Shopper’s Diary: East Fork Pottery in Asheville, NC).

When the East Fork team was in New York a couple of weeks back, I stopped in to talk with Alex and Connie in person—only to discover that East Fork is primed to take off over the next few months. They’ve grown from a small team to about 30 employees, are preparing for a move to a new, bigger factory; their coveted ceramics are showing up on the tables of the newest restaurants in the South—including Cúrate, Husk, and Nightbell, plus restaurants in New York City, Toronto, and Dubai—and they’re offering a wider range of kitchen tools that we haven’t seen elsewhere. “None of us who buy for the store came from any sort of true retail background, so we source objects purely because we love them and the people who make them. We only sell objects that we would—and do!— use and love in our own homes,” Connie says.

Here’s a look at a few of East Fork’s new kitchen offerings, plus their first seasonal collection of glazes—earthy Utah and Taro, a pale lavender—available now for a limited time. Take note—you’ll be seeing them everywhere soon.

This season’s new colorways, Utah (a burnished terracotta) and Taro (a lilac), alongside the existing Eggshell, Soapstone, and Morel glazes. The new glazes are the result of months of testing by the team’s resident chemist and made possible by the gas kiln that the company uses. Shown here, left to right: the Medium Jar ($78; currently sold out, but back soon), a stack of Small Potter’s Bowls ($28), and two Shallow Breakfast Bowls ($28).
Above: This season’s new colorways, Utah (a burnished terracotta) and Taro (a lilac), alongside the existing Eggshell, Soapstone, and Morel glazes. The new glazes are the result of months of testing by the team’s resident chemist and made possible by the gas kiln that the company uses. Shown here, left to right: the Medium Jar ($78; currently sold out, but back soon), a stack of Small Potter’s Bowls ($28), and two Shallow Breakfast Bowls ($28).
A Large Contour Vase (currently unavailable) alongside a Small Contour Vase ($56) and Medium Potter’s Bowl ($42), both in Utah.
Above: A Large Contour Vase (currently unavailable) alongside a Small Contour Vase ($56) and Medium Potter’s Bowl ($42), both in Utah.
Everyday Bowls ($48), “the most popular and versatile personal bowls we make,” the team says, in old and new colorways. Although each piece is handmade, the ceramics have a sturdy uniformity about them. “There are very few workshops in the the US that make a full range of dinnerware that can be stacked high in bus bins, put through a commercial dishwasher, look consistent from plate to plate, but still have the grounding quality of something handmade,” Connie says.
Above: Everyday Bowls ($48), “the most popular and versatile personal bowls we make,” the team says, in old and new colorways. Although each piece is handmade, the ceramics have a sturdy uniformity about them. “There are very few workshops in the the US that make a full range of dinnerware that can be stacked high in bus bins, put through a commercial dishwasher, look consistent from plate to plate, but still have the grounding quality of something handmade,” Connie says.
Among the nonceramic additions to the company’s wares: Glass Dessert Spoons ($32), designed by German design engineer Max Frommeld and made in London of borosilicate glass.
Above: Among the nonceramic additions to the company’s wares: Glass Dessert Spoons ($32), designed by German design engineer Max Frommeld and made in London of borosilicate glass.
A Copper Grater, “cut from a sheet of strong, hand-pounded copper with sharp, tin-coated, individually raised teeth,” is $72.
Above: A Copper Grater, “cut from a sheet of strong, hand-pounded copper with sharp, tin-coated, individually raised teeth,” is $72.
The smart Stacking Brass Flatware Set, made by Japanese brass craftsman Ruka Kikuchi, can be fastened together with a small brass clip; $74 for a spoon, fork, knife, and brass clip.
Above: The smart Stacking Brass Flatware Set, made by Japanese brass craftsman Ruka Kikuchi, can be fastened together with a small brass clip; $74 for a spoon, fork, knife, and brass clip.
Wire-wrapped Horsehair Tassels, sourced from Fredricks and Mae, are $40 each.
Above: Wire-wrapped Horsehair Tassels, sourced from Fredricks and Mae, are $40 each.
The three-legged Metal Candle Holder ($45) from Japanese retailer Saikai is “lightweight but sturdy and has a central spike to keep any tapered candle secure.”
Above: The three-legged Metal Candle Holder ($45) from Japanese retailer Saikai is “lightweight but sturdy and has a central spike to keep any tapered candle secure.”
A Perfect Linen Napkin ($20), this one in Rust. The collection is “informed by Alex’s upbringing in a home of artists and anthropologists in the Northeast, my own family’s deep roots in Los Angeles and northern Mexico, and our chosen home of the western North Carolina mountains,” Connie says.
Above: A Perfect Linen Napkin ($20), this one in Rust. The collection is “informed by Alex’s upbringing in a home of artists and anthropologists in the Northeast, my own family’s deep roots in Los Angeles and northern Mexico, and our chosen home of the western North Carolina mountains,” Connie says.
Myrtlewood Baskets (from $60) are made by a former boat builder in Oregon.
Above: Myrtlewood Baskets (from $60) are made by a former boat builder in Oregon.
The Steamer Set ($142) by Jia is made of cedar and terracotta, and can double as a rice cooker.
Above: The Steamer Set ($142) by Jia is made of cedar and terracotta, and can double as a rice cooker.
The Crane Saute Pan ($190) is among Connie’s favorite pieces on offer. “It conducts heat just like cast iron, but is so much easier to clean and maintain,” she says.
Above: The Crane Saute Pan ($190) is among Connie’s favorite pieces on offer. “It conducts heat just like cast iron, but is so much easier to clean and maintain,” she says.
We also like the small Shapes Vases ($28 each); perfect for tiny buds and single stems. They’re currently sold out, but will be back soon.
Above: We also like the small Shapes Vases ($28 each); perfect for tiny buds and single stems. They’re currently sold out, but will be back soon.
Alex and Connie.
Above: Alex and Connie.

More makers, behind the scenes:

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