Los Angeles Ceramicist Ben Medansky

Anyone familiar with the work of Los Angeles ceramicist Ben Medansky would be surprised to learn that, when he was a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, his work was actually colorful, spanning the full spectrum of glaze hues. But after he graduated and went to work for a succession of other artists — among them the Haas brothers, who hired him to set up and run their in-house ceramics shop, and Peter Shire, for whom he spent a sweaty summer splatter-painting dishware — he decided he needed to find his own signature style, so he abandoned color entirely upon setting up his own studio in 2012 and started by focusing exclusively on form. The strong, graphic shapes he’s been creating since, all in earthy orange stoneware peeking out from under a speckled-white glaze, have become instantly recognizable in the contemporary ceramics scene.

Now that he’s achieved a measure of success, however — at the enviable age of 25 — he’s begun to push out in new directions, which follows naturally from his creative process: “My work is always a reaction to my previous pieces,” he says. “If I make something soft and asymmetrical, then I tend to create the opposite in my next collection, something highly designed and textured.” His all-white color scheme recently ceded to pops of hyper-saturated blue, and he’s been experimenting with using bubbly, lava-like surfaces to soften his geometric forms. He’s also moving decidedly in the direction of larger-scale works, perhaps because of his recent move into an airy new studio space in Downtown L.A., where he and his team craft every single piece by hand in one-of-a-kind or small-batch runs. After paying a visit to that space in February, we sat down with Medansky to find out more about the inspirations behind — and the future of — his work.