As the new King of The Netherlands, Willem Alexander, may need some illumination…
Can be found in the MoMa collection.
Zeisel, who was born in Hungary in 1906, was an industrial designer by trade but was best known for her ceramics. She herself said described herself as a “maker of useful things.” In her early 20s, she moved to Weimar Germany, where she quickly gained employment designing tableware influenced by modernist architecture. She also hung out in Berlin’s louche, intellectual demimonde (the one depicted in the movie Cabaret). Suddenly, at 26, Zeisel took off for Russia. (via Covet Garden Blog)
In 1932, Zeisel moved to Russia, explaining, “It was curiosity that moved me. I wanted to see what was behind the mountain.” She found a job working for the Communist government as artistic director of the glass and ceramics industries. In May 1936, everything changed. “At 4:00am, there was a knock at the door, and so began a different life,” she recalled. Accused of plotting to assassinate Stalin, Zeisel was sent to prison for 16 months, 12 of which were in solitary confinement. The accusations were fabricated and Zeisel never knew who was responsible for her release or how that joyous day came to be. “I hadn’t seen any colors for a year and a half,” said the designer.
Upon her release, she married Hans Zeisel. They lived in Vienna briefly, before the threat of Hitler made them leave for America. “I saw the Statue of Liberty and my fears came down. It was a very touching reception,” said Zeisel of her October 1938 arrival. The next day she went to the magazine China and Glass and was immediately commissioned for ten ceramic miniatures for $100. She was also hired at New York’s Pratt Institute, where she became the first to teach ceramics as industrial design for mass production, rather than handicraft. Zeisel’s work continued to gather acclaim, and in 1946, her all-white modern dinner service – a first by an American designer – was honored with an exhibition at MoMA. Her work is included in the permanent collections of museums worldwide, including MoMA, the Met and the V&A. In 2005, she was awarded the National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York.(via www.dwr.com.)
She died in December 2011 at the age of 105 years in New City, N.Y. USA. See the NYT Obituary