ZIP IT REAL GOOD
Our chat with the designer behind BZippy & Co.
Los Angeles-based ceramicist Bari Ziperstein is one cool cat. While earning her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, Ziperstein worked primarily in sculpture and public art. Now, she’s creating on a more intimate level with BZippy & Co. a collection of small vases, lamps, and other experimental vessels for the home. The shapes she creates in her pieces are immediately recognizable, her color palette is on point, and her collaborations are equally as cool. (She recently worked with Rachel Comey on a collection of patterned vases.) We chatted with the artist about how she got started.
What’s the first piece of art you remember creating?
I actually have the first ceramic piece I ever made. It’s in such bad shape though. It was a sculpture of a head that became a jewelry box. The face of this blonde girl split in half at the nose horizontally. It’s a very lumpy, childlike piece, but you can tell it was well-loved.
Early on in your career you started designing jewelry as well. How is it different or similar to ceramics?
The jewelry pieces are actually made from cast-off bits and parts of my large-scale ceramic sculptures. That part of my design practice happened by accident when I started thinking about ways to use all parts of the material. Now, the jewelry is about working on a very small scale—allowing people to wear a part of my sculptures. That idea is very exciting to me, as it allows more access to sculptural works in the everyday.
Your Lady Finger Vases with hands wrapping the surface are among your most popular pieces . What’s the story behind them?
The carvings are all based on my mother’s hands. She paints her nails weekly, based on the season—hot pink for summer and black for winter. She has impeccable nails and eyebrows. Some of the hand-drawings become abstract while disembodied fingers wrap around a perfect egg vase. I enjoy that contradiction between an elegant shape and creepy or odd theme.
What are your favorite flowers or objects to place inside your ceramic vases?
The sculptural vases really come to life with ikebana arrangements. My kiln master Junzo Mori has arranged flowers for several shows. There’s nothing better than the unexpected combination of seasonal flowers from the LA Flower mart.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I’m surrounded by it daily during my commute to the studio across Los Angeles: shifting architecture, hand-painted signs of local business, political podcasts that keep my nerves on edge and eyes sharp. Once in the studio, the design works have a collage aesthetics where they combine ceramic, walnut, and rope in unexpected ways. The rope acts as a drawing material in space—allowing me to form a visual line with this very soft material.
The Details: Shop BZippy & Co. at Tenoversix, 1511 Commerce Street. Complimentary valet on Elm Street.