Every Object in Bari Ziperstein’s Colorful New Studio Carries Meaning
With the help of emerging firm Foss Hildreth, the in-demand ceramicist unveils an expanded production facility and showroom for her burgeoning Los Angeles studio that’s outfitted with slick ‘70s Italian furnishings and sentimental objects from her favorite local makers.
When we last caught up with Bari Ziperstein, her studio was much smaller but no less a well-oiled machine: “My design practice helps my team and I sharpen our skills, gain dexterity with materials, and experiment with craft and engineering,” the Los Angeles ceramicist told Surface. “When called upon—either for an exhibition or for the need to make art myself—we all have these skills at our fingertips.” Ditto when it came time to upgrade her home base, which involved expanding her studio to a 9,000-square-foot ceramics workshop and creating an all-new showroom to better serve the manifold branches of her practice. There’s BZIPPY, her furniture and housewares brand; BZ Collectible design, which primarily serves the interior design trade; and her fine art practice that recasts her signature vessels as captivating canvases that nod to Soviet visual culture.
Ziperstein enlisted longtime friends Luke Foss and Ashley Hildreth of local firm Foss Hildreth—alums of The Future Perfect, her collectible design gallery—with envisioning an all-encompassing facility that stays true to her colorful aesthetic while still remaining practical for the dynamic needs of an evolving ceramics studio. “It has long been a dream of mine to grow the studio space in a way that sustainably nurtures all three aspects of my practice,” Ziperstein says. And the newly expanded space fits the bill. Not only does it dramatically expand her dedicated production floor, it makes room for a glaze department, eight production kilns, a photography studio, and an inventory and fulfillment warehouse. Over in the showroom, she now enjoys a kitchen and break room for staff and visitors, her own private office, and a meeting space for clients.
“Our objective was for clients to feel fully immersed in Bari’s world as they enter the studio,” Foss says. “Bari is known for her colorful glazes, so we injected bright, sophisticated hues throughout the offices and lounge space: worlds away from the production studio on the other side of the wall.” She and her staff are also coated in ceramic dust throughout the day, so Foss Hildreth avoided upholstery and rugs in favor of hard-surface furniture and accessories that could be easily wiped down. Rare pieces by Gae Aulenti, Joe Colombo, and Vico Magistretti speak to her longtime love for 1960s and ‘70s Italian acrylic furniture and lighting; they commingle with her own custom works alongside those from her tight-knit community of makers in Los Angeles, including Waka Waka, Dan John Anderson, Peter Shire, Michael Felix, and Kalon Studios.
Below, Ziperstein shares five of her favorite objects from her new showroom.
The studio produced custom sconces for the hallway and sales office to complement Foss Hildreth’s interiors. This was our first time working on sconces, so it was a great opportunity to experiment with scale and form. In the hallway, they resemble a cut-apart irongate building. We chose a green crystalline glaze to highlight a mix of matte and glossy finishes, creating a patinated quality that nicely contrasts with the Calico Wallpaper’s soft green hues.
The sconces in the sales office are more shell-like; they’re a lovely visual reprieve with monochrome tones made out of sliced oval clay extrusions. We chose a white glaze for these to create a strong contrast with the cobalt blue wall paint. Overall, the sconces are a great success as the fabrication process was challenging and required lots of troubleshooting.
Custom Tiles/Cabinet Pulls
We wanted to highlight some of the studio’s capabilities beyond our furniture and tabletop works, so we also produced custom backsplash tiles and cabinet pulls for the kitchen and offices. We developed the backsplash tiles in collaboration with Foss Hildreth; it was an experimental process that required a series of renderings and tests. We played with many new techniques to create handmade flat ceramic tiles. We chose the colors from our colorways palette—a fun afternoon planning session with Luke and Ashley to find a balance of texture and color.
The cabinet and drawer pulls were made in collaboration with my seven-year-old son, Lawrence. They’re little pinch pots of various sizes that we made together on a quiet Sunday in the studio. Lawrence carved various smiley faces and characters into the clay, and we decided to glaze them in a monochrome chrome green. They add a playful contrast to our cabinets and are such a pleasant surprise upon approaching them! Lawrence was delighted to see them installed, and I’m so proud to include his work in the studio.
Wooden side tables by Dan John Anderson
I feel a great connection to Dan’s turned side tables—especially because they’re made in Joshua Tree, where I spend lots of time with my family. With their faceted forms and repetitive shapes, there’s a visual language that’s familiar in my own ceramic works. Including works by my peers was very important to us as we designed the space, ensuring that we were surrounded by our community at the studio.
Desk/Office Table by Waka Waka Studios
I always envisioned a Waka Waka desk in my office, so when the opportunity arose, I was thrilled to commission a custom piece. Shin [Okuda] is a longtime friend and peer in the design world, so it was very meaningful to include his work in my office. We chose a lime green tabletop together to complement the brown walls, and it’s the most delightful pop of color in my office.
Cream Cloud Side Tables by BZIPPY
These small side tables were initial prototypes for new additions to our catalog, launching at ICFF in May 2022. We wanted to expand the scale of our catalog pieces to allow for more size options—these two side tables are extra-small versions of the Double and Triple Tier Cloud. We’re so excited to launch them and offer a greater variety of our core collection! On top of the table is one of my son’s planters, made during one of our Sunday sessions.