DnA – Design & Architecture // KCRW Nov 12, 2013

Link to podcast on KCRW

Bari Ziperstein puts the feminist and the feminine into striking ceramic objects, some of which are currently on show as part of Arts ReSTORE LA in Westwood Village. Alissa Walker takes us into her world.

The Glassell Park space of the artist and designer Bari Ziperstein is the aesthetic convergence of two of my favorite places: a ceramic studio crossed with a flea market. Her finished works peek out from the clay- and glaze-flecked interior: Long, witch-like fingers with bright red nails point from clay bowls in the corner, while totemic sculptures with womanly curves almost feel like they could come to life. Now take those works, and add Ziperstein’s collection of raw vintage materials, a wonderland of towering candelabras, dangling chandeliers and stacks of teacups—it’s like the “Be Our Guest” scene from Beauty and the Beast brought to life in the very best possible way.

Growing up in Chicago, Ziperstein was a creative kid in an artistic family—her father wore over-the-top colorful outfits and collected dozens of vintage cookie jars. She studied painting then came to L.A. to attend CalArts, where she mastered in studio art and indulged in her love for ceramics. While her pieces play with bright colors and iconic forms inspired by 60s Marimekko textiles and Pop Art, her work explores themes of domesticity and feminism, which is often also an examination of L.A.’s architectural history, as evidenced in her show this summer at Emma Gray HQ gallery.

Called Decorative Protection, the show explored the female form through a series of sculptures inspired by the wrought iron fences and window bars that are prevalent throughout Southern California. A temporary installation as part of Fallen Fruit’s Let Them Eat LACMA also explored the objects of domestic life when she collected 1,095 dinner plates into a mandala. Her artwork has also entered the public realm with Totems in Indigo, a Los Angeles County Arts Commission for the Norman S. Johnson Aquatic Center in Arcadia Community Regional County Park.


Her ceramics eventually inspired her to launch BZIPPY & CO, the design side of her practice. Although the line is heavily inspired by California’s ceramic history, it also has roots in Ziperstein’s explorations of the home, including that vintage cookie jar collection. Her design line allows her to take elements from her artwork and experiment with them further, playing around with form and technique to create beautiful decorative objects, jewelry and housewares.

October was busy: Ziperstein was a featured artist at Crafting Community in Palm Springs, where she taught a workshop in bead-making, and the very next weekend she participated in High Desert Test Sites, where she created a series of bowls for a conceptual trading station in Joshua Tree. And through November 23, you can find her work at the ERMIE + Weltenbuerger ReStore LA Project at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. (You can hear about ERMIE and Weltenbuerger on DnA, as well!)

Ziperstein has created a new piece as a DnA Design Pick, the BZIPPY & CO Pyramid Lamp, which comes in a yellow polka-dot pattern that’s exclusive to KCRW. Inspired by Finnish patterns and modernist architecture, these lamps are crafted and hand-painted by Ziperstein, and no two are alike.

Stoneware, underglaze, and glaze. Unlimited edition of small, medium, and large pyramid lamps, chrome bulbs. Patterns on lamps are unique and hand-painted.