Exploring The Unconventional

Imagine a collection of dining ware designed with a hearty, delectable Armenian meal in mind. A khash bowl that separates bone from broth. A tolma tray with space for yogurt. A spatula with a twist for individual servings of gata. Students designed all this and more in a ceramics atelier with Roberto Paparkone. “We learned how to show more through minimalism,” said atelier participant Arpi Demurchyan, who designed a ghapama tray with triangular serving utensils. “Roberto asked us to approach the project as product designers, making functional dining ware for specific dishes.”

Working at the intersection of ceramics and modern gastronomy, the guidelines in Roberto’s atelier were simple and straightforward — less is more, useful, sharp, smart. But the project itself? Not so much! Over the two-week atelier, students put their game faces on to knead, roll, cut and spin clay, creating a collection of dining ware for local dishes. To that end, the students conducted important research — a mouth-watering meal at Yerevan institution “At Gayane’s” and sampling desserts like dried peaches stuffed with nuts — in order to put a contemporary spin on local dining traditions — like a tray with grooves to hold utensils and a cup of tea, paired with a bowl that’s shaped like a dried peach.

The atelier captured the essence of what Roberto strives for in his own creations, combining his own background in architecture and design with ceramics, shifting perspectives and leading to unexpected, unconventional products. “The dichotomy between the rational and the creative has always been a deep source of inspiration for my work,” said Roberto.

The influence of architecture and interior design on the pieces that emerged from the atelier is subtle, but noticeable nonetheless, with the students’ dining pieces incorporating everything from avant-garde, modernist architectural shapes to intricate handcrafted details and embellishments.

“I just loved the fact that we weren’t restricted to a single focus. Roberto kept encouraging us to let our imaginations flow, so mixing mediums and having design and ceramics converge with dining was such a creative outlet for me and my fellow students,” added Arpi.