The Porcelain Bear signature style is undeniably original, functional and beautiful. The duo behind the brand, Gregory Bonasera and Anthony Raymond, push the boundaries of porcelain as a material, taking it to places no other artists have gone before.
Gregory Bonasera’s relationship with ceramics goes back a long way.
“I started in ceramics when I was about 10 or 12 years old when my parents bought me a potter’s wheel and that’s where my love of the form began. There are a lot of creative craftsmen in my family. My dad is a (retired) upholsterer, one grandfather was a builder and the other grandfather was a cabinet maker, so working with one’s hand was well respected and encouraged. It laid the true roots of art within me.”
Gregory went on to study ceramics at Monash University in Caulfield which was a very comprehensive course. He specialised in the methods that he still uses today, specifically mould making and slip casting, techniques that he was very interested in from a young age.
Fast forward to 2009 when Gregory met Anthony and after hanging out together and forming a mutual respect for each other’s talents, the two joined forces. Gregory had landed a large heritage project at that time and Anthony’s help was invaluable. His background in Industrial Design was the perfect partnership for Gregory artistic skills.
“Anthony picked up the techniques more quickly than anybody I have ever seen,” explains Gregory. “Not only did he pick up the method quickly, he really enjoyed it. Gradually over the next few years Anthony made a transition away from his other work and we started to work together formally and full time.”
Porcelain Bear was a label that Gregory had developed in the early 2000s, but it was used under the Gregory Bonasera brand. When he and Anthony started to work together it originally was under his namesake brand, but as the business grew and they established a strong equality within the business, working under the Porcelain Bear brand made sense.
“People really like the name,” says Gregory. “The ‘Bear’ is analogous, and there are two levels to the name. The Polar Bear represents porcelain as a material, its dignity, strength and resilience. Porcelain is the highest form of ceramic material that one can work with, and we create it using a 300 year old method. The name also represents our collection, with every piece featuring porcelain in some way. ”
“We love what we do and the integrity of what we create, that’s really important to us. It certainly is a buzz to create something that’s not only beautiful but that is high quality as well. We relish the challenge of create something new, like our Acrobat collection. We finally resolved the production technique after it being on the drawing board for many years. Technically it’s quite amazing. Designing and producing pieces that are technically quite challenging is incredibly rewarding.
The team’s recent trip to Milan’s Salon de Mobile was the second time they have exhibited their Porcelain Bear collection, as part of an international collective. The response was very positive, not only in Milan but in London as well where they met with some interested parties. “In amongst a lot of mainstream there are some very exciting showrooms and independent designers there,” says Anthony.
Porcelain Bear has their own showroom in Melbourne and their international profile has been quite active for a number of years now including in the US which is a quite a big market for the duo, who now have a team working with them.
“Broadening our international base, particularly in Europe is what we would like to develop, however our focus is definitely on the high end. We’re not a business that is about mass volume, we are dedicated to an artisan-made collection where we consistently create special pieces. It’s not about quantity, it’s about how distinctive and how beautiful our creations can be.”
Porcelain Bear is featured in the KWD Studio’s inaugural window display.
“We were thrilled to work with Porcelain Bear, and love showcasing their unique porcelain furniture and lighting. Their creations are so unique, so original and so beautifully crafted and I am proud to feature their Federation and Metro tables and Cloche lights in the KWD Studio window. The Porcelain Bear Metro tables look amazing in my office too.”
KWD Studio images: Armelle Habib
Showroom: 23 – 25 Derby Street, Collingwood, Victoria
Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm (by appointment)
Saturday (by appointment)
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