Vases, candleholders, animal figurines - such common household ornaments tend to spring to mind at the mention of ceramics. But this most fundamental of materials - essentially clay mixed with water, moulded into a shape and heated at a very high temperature - is being used in interesting new ways.
California-based Joey Roth (joeyroth.com ) has come up with a ceramic sound system. The speakers, in a stylish white conical shape and incorporating Baltic birch and cork, hook up to iPods and other digital music players, as well as computers and televisions, providing a rich, resonant sound. A set of two speakers and a sub-woofer sells for US$1,095 (the speakers alone are US$495).
Danish collective Copenhagen Ceramics (copenhagenceramics.com ) has likewise approached the material with imagination. Artist Anne Tophoj's clean, modern dishes (right), which come in a dull-white finish and are available in several configurations, can be used as serving platters or as dining trays. Queries regarding availability can be sent via the website.
California-based Moshi (moshimonde.com ) has created highly polished ceramic earphones called Keramo (top right), boasting a modernist asymmetrical design. Apart from their aesthetic appeal, the Keramo convey a pure and undistorted sound and are available in Hong Kong for HK$959 at HMV (various locations; www.hmv.com.hk ) and CD Warehouse (www.cdwarehouse.com.hk )
Still in prototype phase is a series of mundane household items - buckets, water dispensers - that have been given a unique ceramic treatment by Dutch artist Roos Gomperts (roosgomperts.com ) In her Ceramics for Plastics collection, Gomperts treats brightly coloured plastic objects with ceramic in matte, pastel or earthy shades, effecting a look that is Earth Mother meets plastic fantastic. The object? Giving once ugly items star appeal.
New York lighting brand OLighting (olighting.com ) meanwhile, uses ceramic in several of its futuristic products. The 8 Ball Suspension Light, priced at US$860, is available in hand-painted white, black or silver. Suspended from the ceiling, it exudes a decidedly space-age feel. The 21 Series from Bocci (right) uses ceramic alongside blown glass, suspended in large clumps from the ceiling. The combi-nation of ceramic and glass allows for an alluring luminosity as diffused light from the ceramic skin combines with the crisp light from the glass component. The light, which makes for a dramatic statement above a dining table or in a living room, sells for US$15,750.