• Cel-porcelain-garden-detail
Product Design

Ceramicist Cecilia Borghi pulling out all sorts of porcelain shapes

Posted by Rebecca Fulleylove,

Porcelain is such a delicate material that as an indelicate child I was often kept away from the pearlised slopes of a figurine, the voluptuous derriere of a vase, and the regal arch of a teapot handle. It’s because of this isolation that I can’t help but be entranced by anything porcelain now – even a toilet seat has sometimes rendered me speechless, but most recently, it’s been the work of Buenos Aires born, Cecilia Borghi that’s enchanted me.

Her simple designs of shallow bowls in peachy hues echoing hole-punched paper, brilliant white vase lattices and sage green pots and ornaments with 3D clay smudges as decoration are lovely. They have such a clean air about them they evoke a feeling of wanting to completely redecorate your house based around these small but chic pieces. Cecilia’s latest, ongoing project, Porcelain Garden takes inspiration from exotic plants and imaginary flowers, in which Borghi has created bulbous flowers of fine china beauty, with gentle flourishes and nodules, some hiding pools of coloured ink in their crevices. They’re some of her most beautiful pieces and we just had to talk to her about them…

Hi Cecilia, so when did you throw your first piece of pottery? What did it feel like?

I come from a ceramicist family. My grandfather opened a porcelain factory in the 1950s and my father has been in charge of it since the 1970s. My mother joined the family business when they got married, so I have been part of that world since I was born.

When I was in primary school I used to spend time there and the workers were keen to teach me all the different jobs related to the production of ceramics and porcelain pieces. That’s how, at an early age, I learnt techniques such as mould making, slip casting, hand modelling, and painting with pigments. So I was always making stuff with clay, but there’s one piece I still keep and that I consider my first porcelain piece – a tiny clown which I constructed by hand and then painted with pigments that looked quite colourful. My father glazed it and when it came out of the kiln I felt very disappointed as the colours had disappeared except for black and brown. Nowadays I think it’s a beautiful piece.

  • Cel-10-fuente-ola-nectar

    Cecilia Borghi: Tides collection, 2011

  • Cel-porcelain-garden

    Cecilia Borghi: Porcelain Garden project, 2012

Tell us about your Porcelain Garden project. Where did the inspiration come from?

It started back in 2009 as a group of pieces constructed using techniques to make figurines. I liked the way they looked together and I exhibited them hanging from the wall. At that time I became fascinated by gardens so I decided to take the project a bit further and took inspiration from traditional china floral decals. After working for several years on the decal making process, I became interested in the decorative patterns, which, though many times inspired by real plants, are then transformed and stylised to fit the corporeal shapes of the pieces. My aim is to recreate those flower designs as three-dimensional objects. Every piece is an imaginary flower. I don’t make sketches; just develop the shapes during the modelling process.

You keep a detailed journal on your website, how does this help your process?

The journal has become an important part of my work. I started to write it to let people know my everyday life in the workshop as many people who contact me to purchase my pieces thought I was only a designer and was not involved in the manufacturing process. Positive feedback slowly started to appear, and I felt confident posting things related to my interests and experimentations with clay and even some personal life bits. So now it’s not only a great way to be connected with those who like my work but also a great resource for inspiration as I can post my impressions and let them mature together in time.

What other ceramists’ work are you admiring at the moment?

I’ve been a big fan of Swedish potter Karin Eriksson since 2007 when I discovered her work. I love her wheel thrown pieces all covered in decals. Her Mint Cup is just perfect.

I also like the work of Dutch ceramicist and designer Jorine Oosterhoff, I find her pieces really playful and imaginative. And I’ve just recently discovered the ephemeral works of British artist Phoebe Cummings. She uses the most traditional techniques for constructing ceramic decorative objects to create amazing landscapes that remain unfired.

  • Cel-oxblood-flower

    Cecilia Borghi: Porcelain Garden project, 2012

  • Cel-fenix

    Cecilia Borghi: Fenix, 2010

  • Cel-2

    Cecilia Borghi: Porcelain Garden project, 2012

  • Cel-celadon-flower

    Cecilia Borghi: Porcelain Garden project, 2012

  • Cel-caracol-small-bowl

    Cecilia Borghi: Tide collection, 2010

  • Cel-roseta-boxes

    Cecilia Borghi: Roseta boxes, 2012

  • Cel-iride-flower

    Cecilia Borghi: Porcelain Garden project, 2012

  • Cel-jardin-colgante

    Cecilia Borghi: Jardín Colgante (Hanging Garden), 2009

  • Cel-1

    Cecilia Borghi: Porcelain Garden project, 2012

  • Cel-3

    Cecilia Borghi: Porcelain Garden project, 2012


Posted by Rebecca Fulleylove

Rebecca joined us as an editorial intern after studying at Norwich University College of the Arts. She originally wrote for the site between March and June 2012 and returned in the summer of 2014 for a four-week freelance stint.

Most Recent: Product Design View Archive

  1. List

    It seems inevitable now that all future technology will require us to interact with it in a much more direct way – by chatting to it and letting it learn from our behaviours. This happens in the online sphere already, but there’s very little in my home that I can command with my voice or expect to understand my tastes. Not so with Aether Cone, a new thinking music player that you control by speaking to it and which can learn your musical and general audio preferences every time you use it.

  2. List2

    This won’t be the best-shot, best-edited film you’ve seen all day but it’ll definitely be the most exciting. Volvo (the car manufacturer) have just released a luminous paint that’s invisible during the day and then brightly fluorescent at night as soon as car headlights bounce off it. Spray it on your bike, helmet, clothing – maybe even your face – to make sure you’re lit up like a Christmas tree whenever you set off on nighttime rides.

  3. Vice-mushroom-int-list

    Introducing Phil Ross, an artist who’s a huge fan of mushrooms, but less in his spag bol than as a medium with which to create his artwork. For almost 20 years he has been experimenting with mushrooms for their recycling properties, growing them in new formations to make them stronger and more versatile and then using them as a material with which to build, among other things.

  4. Bladerunner-deckards-whiskey-glass-int-list

    Film and furniture go together like peas and carrots, like Thelma and Louise, like Amelie and a creme brûlée. To honour this, Paula Benson (co-founder of design agency Form) created the site Film and Furniture, billed as a “lovingly curated resource directing you where to find the décor, art and furniture you spot in your favourite films.”

  5. Corners-by-kyuhyung-cho_04lst

    Is there nothing Kyuhyung Cho can’t do? He popped over in 2011 with his experimental take on typography; wowed us in 2012 with some simple, effective graphic design; and nigh-on reinvented not just the stool, but shelving as well.

  6. Ustwo-monument-valley-int-list

    Yesterday we brought you the full list of nominations for the graphics category of the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year, and today we thought we’d take things down a notch, and present five things from the other categories that particularly tickled our fancy over at It’s Nice That. As ever, the nominations are a wildly varied bunch so it’s not been easy, but here goes:

  7. Teenage-engineering-pocket-synths-int-5-list

    Jesper Kouthoofd’s Teenage Engineering is one of the most technologically exciting outfits in the field of audio. The experimental design lab has only released a small run of products since its inception in 2007 but has a hard-earned reputation for incredible quality and style. It has built stunning wireless speakers and one of the world’s most sought-after synthesisers, as well as collaborating with the likes of Absolut on unusual branded products. It has just released a new edition to its line in the form of Pocket Operators, three miniature synthesisers that can fit in your jeans.

  8. Hoverboard

    Once again the annual circus of strange, often useless gadgetry and salivating tech-geeks, Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show, has rolled around. While there’s undoubtedly some very smart little digital happenings being shown off, what’s often most fun is a look at the more ludicrous end of the spectrum, which this year has beamed out such treats as a plant pot that automatically waters your flowers, electric roller skates and a rather frightening looking belt that adjusts with your waistline and tries to shame you into reducing it.

  9. List

    Don’t get us wrong, we’re not here to knock big Scandinavian furniture empires, but there’s something about the homegenisation of our homes that’s getting a bit silly now. That’s why we’re always keen to hear about ventures which are tackling this domestic sameness, and Feathr.com is going in all guns blazing.

  10. List20121121_dyson_0165

    When the winning Dyson Award Winner is announced each year, every time it’s humbling proof of the power of design for change, and the power of young designers to make the designs that can make those changes.

  11. List

    It’s a well-established fact that even the most conceptually exciting product designs can fall flat on their face if they’re photographed poorly. Imagery can often make or break these projects. And while of course this isn’t the be-all and end-all, it’s worth taking this part of the process seriously to maximise the chances of your work cutting through the noise.

  12. List

    When it comes to product design; our tastes tend towards the more offbeat end of the spectrum and so Ernesto D. Morales’ Magnifying Spoon is right up our street. Allowing users to inspect their food before they dive in: " On approval, the same tool is used to scoop up a healthy mouthful," the inventor tells us. The spoon is part of Object Solutions, "a fictional company that develops inventions for solving everyday problems. Its laboratorians are fixated on halting inconvenience, discomfort and imperfection, by producing an ever-growing set of hyper-specialised tools.

  13. Hellotalja_kit-list-image

    Many a blue-sky-thinker and envelope-pusher has been extolling the virtues of meditation and mindfulness to pseudo-spiritually swell their business jargon lately. So it’s refreshing when a beautifully branded, creatively-minded product emerges that promises to offer that lucrative “pause from modern life.”