Lindsey Hampton is a designer who makes pottery – think hipster boutique production dinnerware. The forms are unrefined and amateur and the clay is the typical speckled stoneware that litters summer craft shows across America (Standard Ceramics Supply #112 Brown, maybe?). BUT, her disregard for refinement to concentrate on the application of subtle design elements on pots is irresistibly charming.
I want to call Hampton intentionally irreverent, but I think she is just totally unaware of pottery conventions – and this is what makes the work so incredible. Hampton uses poor design to win the hearts of the unrefined citizen… she has a big market. She is, of course, aware of this or her forms would start to get better. Although I guess “good design” is a convention as well, because all of her cringeworthy choices (glazing, photography, forms) actually work together to validate her entire practice as “not an accident.” Realizing that nothing is an accident (or that she is really consistent at not improving) in her work is an epiphany moment that reveals is true value. Where Hampton radically succeeds is in imbuing her work with a dense personality – the kind of positive, genuine, quirky personality, void of self-consciousness, that everyone wants to be around.
A highlight of Hampton’s work is her photography. It’s amazing what can happen when a potter isn’t aware of the conventions of “pottery photography” (for the record: gradated backgrounds make me throw up in my mouth). Hampton photographs brilliantly, with a hipster-dada flair showing pots on paper, or sponges, or with live plants. This all sounds horrible, but it fits her design philosophy perfectly and her images become as important as the actual objects (welcome to the digital age).
Last year, Times Magazine recognized Hampton for “redefining the formerly folksy medium,” but I don’t think think the magazine actually has any idea where her value lies. The rules and tricks of the ceramic medium often blind the maker into an incredibly narrow scope of what is “good” or “possible” or “acceptable.” Hampton comes to the craft objectively, as a person “creating products using clay” – a designer… and (maybe) a good one.
What do you think of Hampton’s work? Tell is in the comments!