A new Hybrid tableware collection inspired by history and the unifying power of art.

In the world of Milan-based multidisciplinary studio CTRLZAK, tableware is not just practical or a bland accompaniment to food. Studio co-founders Katia Meneghini and Thanos Zakopoulos, both artists and designers, showed this in 2011 when they created the striking Seletti Hybrid Collection. Inspired by the concept of unity, the distinctive range of porcelain tableware combined Eastern and Western styles in one design. Pottery traditions from China appeared alongside European porcelain decorations in plates, bowls, cups, and vases with asymmetric rims and edges. Colored lines separated the two designs while also fusing them as a single object and reinforcing their connection.

The term “conversation starter” doesn’t even begin to cover the Seletti Hybrid collection, but it gives a glimpse into the concept envisioned by the designers. With the new Hybrid World line, that conversation turns to a difficult chapter in history, the Colonial Era. However, colonialism is not the central point of the collection’s concept. Instead, the designers explored the way diverse cultures influence(d) each other and how they can become a hybrid foundation for a unified future. Diversity that transcends both geographical and political borders to represent humanity as a whole. This heavy, nuanced subject is complemented by some truly stunning designs. Similarly to the original Seletti Hybrid range, Hybrid World sucks you in with captivating visuals and then gives you food for thought with a meaningful design.

What is the difference between the Seletti Hybrid Collection and the Hybrid World Collection?

The Seletti Hybrid and Hybrid World collections complement each other with different concepts that share the same aesthetic theme. Launched in 2011, the Hybrid Collection linked Eastern and European pottery decoration traditions; the different motifs represented two sides of the world. Ten years later, Hybrid World takes that concept further with designs inspired by the era of colonialism.

The original Hybrid line features names taken from Italo Calvino’s book “The Invisible cities”, which allegorically describes China’s ancient empire through the eyes of Marco Polo. Plates, bowls, glasses, and vases from this collection have names like Eutropia, Irene, Sofronia, or Zaira. By contrast, Hybrid World pays tribute to ethnic groups and lost civilizations in colonized cultures. This range features many names that reference specific ancient cities, from Sravasti in India to Tiwanaku in Bolivia and Malao in Somalia.

Art and creative crafts as a connecting thread through human history.

With the tagline “One World One Future”, the new Seletti Hybrid collection aims to give a brighter ending to a dark chapter in human history. CTRLZAK highlights the things cultures share rather than the ones that set them apart. Without minimizing the destructive effect of colonialism, the studio looks at that era through a different lens; one that focuses on the creative spirit of humanity and the power of art to bring people together.

Starting on the foundations of the original collection, the new range explores the history of European colonization in three specific areas of the world. After extensive research, the designers chose countries that represent the main empires of the Colonial Era: England, France, and Spain. Their pairs are India, African countries, and different nations from Central America. The three lines aim to showcases the differences as well as the similarities between colonizers and the countries they conquered. Ultimately, Hybrid World explores the way different cultures influence each other regardless of their position of power. Europeans imposed their own culture by force with devastating effects; at the same time, they were also heavily influenced by the cultures they encountered around the world.

To create the line, Katia Meneghini and Thanos Zakopoulos first did meticulous research into the era of Western European Colonization. The final designs feature patterns and motifs that represent indigenous cultures from India, Africa, and Central America alongside European ones. As some of the indigenous civilizations have left little to no traces of their traditions, the designers created patterns and decorative styles that are easy to recognize and associate with cultures from those areas.

Three series of hybrid porcelain tableware in one collection.

The new Seletti Hybrid World Collection features three “couples” of hybrid designs that represent three chapters of colonialism. All of them, from Spain-Central America to France-Africa and England-India boast floral and geometric patterns in two complementing styles. Vibrant colors add brightness to earthy hues while flowing organic lines soften clean geometric shapes.

Crafted from bone china porcelain, the collection features the signature colored or golden lines that divide the two halves. Hybrid World also features irregular rims that are smooth on one side and wavy on the other. Like the original collection, this range comprises dinner plates, dessert plates, bowls, soup plates, and coffee and tea cups with matching saucers.

A message of hope.

Inspired by the power of art to unite, CTRLZAK focused on a message of hope. “Especially nowadays, we should understand more and more the importance of diverse traditions and expressions and should always be ready to embrace them in a peaceful manner creating a conscious new Hybrid Future,” explain the designers. In this world, diverse cultures can stand side by side, co-exist peacefully, and learn from one another. At the dinner table, surrounded by friends who sometimes come from different parts of the world, this idea becomes even more poignant. Like the best works of art, the Hybrid World collection is beautiful and memorable, but it also has a lot to say. In this case, about humanity’s past and future, over some good food shared with others.

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