On a ceramics base
Decorating ceramics with paintings is a tradition going back thousands of years. The material’s wonderfully smooth surface has always provided an ideal base on which to apply painted images. Artistically fashioned vessels, initially in clay and later in porcelain were embellished in perfect craftsmanship. It is only in recent decades that clients in Europe have shown a preference for pure white tableware for their dining rooms, and it is only occasionally that you still find prints with graphic patterns.
The products of the Swiss sanitary ceramics specialist Laufen are also generally a bright white. Laufen ventured into unaccustomed territory for the fascinating art project "Impressões", a collaboration of the company with the Basel-based Brasilea Foundation and five Brazilian artists or artist groups: Laufen made ceramic polyhedra specially for the occasion that were then decorated by the artists with themes of their own choosing. The polyhedra impressively demonstrate Laufen’s expertise in ceramics. They were made of sapphire ceramic, a material with which the Swiss took the sanitary ceramics market by storm a few years ago. The newly developed material allows minimal wall thicknesses and the tightest of curve radii in the workpieces made from it. This is also the case for the polyhedra, whose edges boast a sharpness that could never have been attained using conventional ceramic. The artists involved play with these clearly-defined facets in very different ways. And yet every one of them creates a link to the culture of painting on ceramic grounds that has survived for thousands of years.
Laufen and Brasilea Foundation have documented "Impressões" in a film that demonstrates the enthusiasm shared by everyone involved in this extraordinary art project. The latter is just one small example of Laufen’s activities as a patron of the arts; the company supports many other cultural events – not least the well-known Salon Suisse held during the Architecture Biennale in Venice. (fap)