Industrial designer and ceramicist Eva Zeisel does not like to be called an artist. "I'm a maker of things," she says, gesturing an arm toward the works in her New York City apartment. Foreshadowing the current mass-class movement by several generations, her "things" are meant to bring beauty and pleasure to everyday life. Her trademark sensual curves make ordinary objects extraordinary and inviting. "I make curves because I am curvaceous," she says, laughing, "meaning I am a little fat." But for Zeisel, curves are also communicative. "Angles appeal to the intellect," she explains. "Curves speak to the heart." Her pieces are meant to communicate with one another as well. "I never design a singlealways families." The porcelain vases created for KleinReid in 1999 nestle into each other; her iconic 1946 Red Wing Pottery salt-and-pepper shakers evoke a cuddling mother and child.
Zeisel estimates that she has designed 100,000 products. And at age 100, she is still working every day. "I don't like the word still," she says firmly. "I am working." Her eyesight is failing. "But," she says, "the way an object feels is important. My hands are just as important as my eyes." Touch is also why she frequently returns to designing dinnerware. "It's an intimate thing, something that you touch every day and becomes part of your life."