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Sean Gerstley is Playing With Scale at New York’s Tiniest New Design Gallery

When we first started writing about ceramic furniture back in 2014 — first with Chris Wolston‘s terracotta chairs, then on through to Eny Lee Parker, Kelsie Rudolph, Floris Wubben, Virginia Sin, BZIPPY, and more — we had no idea we would end up here: in Superhouse’s new, 100 sq.ft. vitrine/gallery on the second floor of a Chinatown mall, filled to bursting with more than a dozen such works by the young designer Sean Gerstley, whose process and aesthetic we can only describe as thrilling. The works are just so good — some are made using the technique of clay extrusion, others are assembled via a collection of clay tiles, hence the exhibition name: Tile Block.

The blocks “start with a base of American red earthenware clay to which Gerstley adds grog for texture,” Superhouse writes. “He then forms slabs with this clay mixture and adds coiled walls and pinched edges. Firing the wet clay at higher than normal temperatures enhances the tile blocks’ durability. In the final step of the process, Gerstley paints the tile blocks and extruded elements with custom glazes that often go on as matte grays and whites only to reveal the sumptuous colors and glossy surfaces for which Gerstley is known when the kiln is opened.” We’ve likened Gerstley’s work before to game culture (his previous lamps for Superhouse resembled the turtles from the original Super Mario Bros) and there are faint echoes here again, with the tiles resembling everything from vintage sliding number puzzles to Tetris, tangrams, and more (and, honestly, still turtle shells). The vitrine is a trip in and of itself; if you’ve never been to the Chinatown mall, it’s worth a visit. Last time we went, pre-pandemic, we peeked in on something called the Philosophical Investigation Agency as well as the late, great music and books store 2 Bridges. On view through November 14 at 75 East Broadway. ◆

PHOTOS BY SEAN DAVIDSON

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