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Gregory Bonasera · Porcelain Bear

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18th July, 2013
Lucy Feagins
Thursday 18th July 2013

I-O-N pendant lights by Gregory Bonasera and Anthony Raymond of Porcelain Bear.  Rendering by Anthony Raymond.

Melbourne designer Gregory Bonsera is a ceramicist unlike most others.  He approaches his craft more as an industrial designer than as a potter, creating striking, almost architectural ceramic forms which, with the assistance of computer aided technology, can be replicated precisely, time and time again.  In this way, Gregory's work brings together the consistency of high-tech manufacturing processes, but with the skill and technique of a master craftsman.  At a time when so many local designers are leaning heavily on the imperfect charm of the self consciously 'handmade', Gregory's work is based on an entirely different philosophy, where the finished product shows almost no trace of the making process.

Gregory completed a BA Ceramic Design at Monash University in 1988.  Upon graduating, he couldn't afford a kiln, but inherited a welder and some free scrap steel, which led him to start working with metal.  After a residency in Italy supported by the Australia Council, Gregory returned to Melbourne and produced early product ranges of furniture, lighting and vessels using stainless steel.

In the late '90s, Gregory began using computer aided design increasingly with his metalwork, and was keen to apply these skills to porcelain.  He started to phase out the stainless steel, returning to his first love - ceramics. 'The combination of CAD with studio ceramics was something I hadn't seen exploited - it hadn't been done in Australia at that time' explains Gregory. 'It was an expensive process, but I loved the potential it presented'.

Now, more than ten years on from these initial experimentations, Gregory is joined in partnership by industrial designer Anthony Raymond.  Working together in a shared Collingwood studio under the name 'Porcelain Bear', this industrious pair have just produced a new series of occasional tables and stools and pendant lighting, all launching in the next few weeks.

Would you BELIEVE The I-O-N pendant lights were inspired by the Playschool round, square and arched windows!?  True story. Once the designs had been resolved, naming this streamlined trio of lights presented its own challenge.  'We threw names around for several weeks like 'hoop', 'loop', 'geo', but nothing really worked. Finally, they acquired their very appropriate name at about 3am one morning when I awoke with a bolt of inspiration!' says Gregory. 'I visualised the three pendants and immediately saw the shapes spell the name I-O-N - it fitted perfectly.'  The I-O-N lighting series is priced from $240.00 (for the 'I'), $290.00 (for the 'O') and $320.00 (for the double pronged 'N').

The occasional stool / table series, entitled 'Tojiki', are inspired by Japanese stoneware public seating, spotted in Tokyo during a visit to Tokyo Design Week in 2011.  They are surprisingly robust, are designed to be used either indoors or outdoors, and are available in four glaze options.  They're priced from $900.00.

Gregory and Anthony are launching their I-O-N lights in Melbourne at Design Made Trade which opens TODAY, and runs until this Sunday July 21st. The new Tojiki stoneware stools (pictured below) will officially launch next month at Tait's Sydney showroom during Sydney InDesign, which runs from 15th - 17th August.  They'll also be available through Gregory and Anthony's new showroom at 23-25 Derby St, Collingwood, which opens in August.

Tojiki stools / side tables for indoor or outdoor use, created by Gregory Bonasera and Anthony Raymond of Porcelain Bear.  Rendering by Anthony Raymond.

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