The Fascinating Work of Italian Artist Gaetano di Gregorio

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Ceramics, sculptural objects, and everyday items designed to captivate and inspire.

Blending art and design in functional objects provides a great way to bring more creativity into living spaces. However, few designers and artists can keep the two worlds in balance while also embedding deeper concepts in the designs. Venice-based architect, artist, and designer Gaetano di Gregorio achieves this effortlessly.

Born in Catania, Sicily, Gaetano Di Gregorio moved to Venice to study architecture. After completing his studies, he stayed in the city and co-founded a cultural center of visual arts and design, Spiazzi, then took on a teaching post in the Interior Design department at IED, or the European Institute of Design. He also studied porcelain crafting skills alongside master artisans in Jingdezhen, China, drawing inspiration from traditional techniques to create his designs.

Gaetano Di Gregorio’s work focuses on ceramics, but his artistic approach often explores a symbiosis between different materials. His impressive body of work explores poetic instances as well as the dialogue between memory, time, and place. Limited-edition and exclusive, his award-wining designs have been exhibited around the world, including in the US and in Italy at SaloneSatellite as part of the Milan Furniture Fair.

Eclectic and distinctive at the same time, his designs combine artistic sensibility with innovative concepts; architectural elements with classic forms. Modern techniques support artisanal traditions, with many products featuring a blend of handcrafting methods and new techniques. Regardless of concept, all of Gaetano Di Gregorio work has an Italian heart and a poetic soul. From vases that recreate the likeness of the Doge of Venice to imaginative designs that look like sculptures and items that combine the artistry of Eastern and Western ceramic traditions.

Vases designed as organic sculptures

Throughout his work, Gaetano Di Gregorio creates unexpected juxtapositions of elements, with different outcomes. For the Bottleneck series, completed during his artistic residence in Dehua, China, the artist used traditional pottery techniques to bring sculptural vases to life. Limited to ten designs, the collection features white porcelain vases with creatively designed ornaments made with porcelain fragments arranged in various ways. One vase boasts decorations resembling coral formations, while another features angular pieces that frame the flower stems. Rose-like curls dripping in red enamel or yellow fragments reminiscent of the roofs in a village give the elegant bisque porcelain vases an artistic twist. Made with a traditional lathe, the Bottleneck vase series features ornaments carefully added by hand and one-of-a-kind enamel finishes on matte porcelain.

The Tulipiere series draws inspiration from Dutch pottery traditions. These vases have distinctly organic silhouettes with bulbous formations and a matte textured surface. Several openings allow the user to place tulips in the vase. However, leaving the openings clear provides a view of the interior that features blue cherry blossoms decorations on white porcelain.

A dialogue between two worlds

In the Doge, Civetta, and English Breakfast series, Gaetano Di Gregorio establishes subtle or not-so-subtle connections between different worlds. For example, the Doge vases reproduce portraits of the Doge of Venice, but their concept draws inspiration from Sicilian ceramic traditions and feature expert Sicilian craftsmanship completed by skilled artisans from Caltagirone. Venice and Sicily come together here, providing an unconventional solution to display bouquets of flowers or other items.

The English Breakfast collection rejuvenates vintage plates from the early 20th-century with colorful polka dots. Elegant but also hiding various surprising elements in their design, the Civetta vases marry East and West. The designs reference 17th-century vases with owl shapes from the Sicilian city of Caltagirone. Here, Gaetano Di Gregorio paired beautifully crafted Venetian porcelain vases with blue motifs inspired by ancient Chinese pottery decorations.

Tableware and home accessories with a twist

The Fabrics, English Breakfast, and Teaband teapots combine both art and contemporary design. Inspired by origami, the Fabrics soup bowls and plates are reminiscent of folded paper. Made from white ceramic, the plates have fold and creases that give the solid material a soft, paper-like look. Like the English Breakfast plates designed with polka dots on traditional ornaments, the Zuppiera Soup Terrine design complements a 20th-century ceramic soup bowl with new, highly detailed illustrations.

The Teaband series of teapots combine different materials in a contemporary design. The ceramic teapots have clean lines and sinuous shapes. Bands of light wood or black neoprene curve around the body of each teapot, providing a safe way to pour hot water into a cup. Handmade, each Teaband teapot is crafted by artisans in the town of Nove, north-eastern Italy, a place with a rich tradition in ceramics production.

For Mumbai, the designer created a tea set from ceramic. Hexagonal cup shapes come together to create a geometric structure on a handmade wooden tray, while the teapot boasts a surprising choice of material for the handle: felt. An exploration of the roles of maker and designer, the design gives more flavor to the tea making ritual.

Ceramic bird houses become artworks for gardens, terraces, and outdoor living spaces. Painted with modern graphics, featuring bold patterns, or decorated to resemble rustic dwellings, the Bird House series offers the perfect solution to bring creative design outdoors.

Creative contemporary design meets craftsmanship

Every item, sculpture, and product created by the artist celebrates traditional craftsmanship.  Gaetano Di Gregorio collaborates with master artisans from Italy to create his artistic designs. Some vases are carefully made by hand by Sicilian craftsmen from Caltagirone, while others are handcrafted by artisans in Nove, Vicenza.  Other designs combine traditional lathe manufacturing techniques with hand-adorned elements and hand-applied finishes. Matte, textured, white or brightly colored, detailed or surprisingly simple, all of these ceramic objects showcase the use of traditional crafting methods in classic or new ways.

As skillfully crafted as they are beautifully designed, Gaetano Di Gregorio’s artworks, sculptural vases, and artistic home accessories embellish living spaces. At the same time, they become conversation starters, sources of inspiration, and symbols of contemporary Italian artistry. Photographs© Gaetano di Gregorio.

 

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