If it were evolutionarily advantageous for an organism to be a pitcher, into what form would it evolve? This is one of the ways I approach the design of my work. Just as in nature, the solution to such a problem is in some ways complex and in other ways elegantly simple. Simple rules create complex forms, but the coherence and simplicity is still apparent.
To achieve this coherence I devote many hours to finding internal relationships between elements of the form and determining what the evolutionary ‘selective pressures’ are. I consider all the aspects of the pot, many of which are part of the user's perception but not necessarily their conscious perception. All edges and surfaces are in a coherent relationship, so that any way you look at it (or feel it), it adds up. Every curve, profile, shadow, reflection, negative space, partial view, angle of view, looks and feels necessary and natural. There are no bad sides, there is no want or thought for change.
Beyond my intrinsic aesthetic and my understanding of natural patterns, the culture and technology of the present influence my designs. Throughout history, functional vessels have repeatedly developed from very simple into more complex, formal, technologically sophisticated, and specialized forms we use today. I consider the designing of each form to be my continuation of this history.
Much of the power of my forms comes from the feelings elicited by strong, direct stimulation of the pattern recognition systems of the visual cortex. This is analogous to the feeling that comes from the recognition by the auditory cortex of a well-structured waveform, a musical tone. Sometimes, in my simplest forms, this is the dominant effect.
Throughout my process, I attempt to decipher what the forms will evoke in others and myself, steering away from unequivocal and unpleasant connections, towards open-ended and positive evocations. My Pitcher #1 (pictured at left) might be a porcelain relative of a bird on a wire, a speedboat, or something else graceful and fast.
Just as I spare no time in finishing a work, I spare nothing to refine my materials and processes for maximum visual effect and tactile comfort. I devise a fabrication process that will allow me to make the form I imagine, instead of letting the standard fabrication processes determine what I can make. This has led to very specialized processes in the traditional techniques of slipcasting, wheelthrowing, and handbuilding, as well as novel glaze application and firing processes. I work with porcelain for its durability and luminosity, and I formulate simple pure-color transparent or translucent glazes that emphasize rather than distract from the forms. This style of glaze led to my original use of lanthanide elements for new transparent glaze colors.
The resulting pots, carefully considered in every respect, just in all proportions, expertly proficient in their function, should be relaxing, reinvigorating, and reassuring in their exactitude, a pleasant relief from the discomforts and chaos of daily life.
-David Pier, November, 2005
An extinct pot from my Graduate School era.
Some elements from these early experiments
in evolution survive today
in pitcher and cup descendents.