In Search of Porcelain
Design, ceramics and geology
An ongoing exploration into the potential of and obstacles to the utilisation of Icelandic minerals to make porcelain.
Experiments with clay in Iceland are very recent by comparison with most cultures, where it has been utilised for thousands of years. When porcelain manufacture began in Denmark in the late 18th century, Iceland came close to having a part to play in the rapid industrial development taking place in Europe – but that came to nothing. Launched in 2016 by designer Brynhildur Pálsdóttir, ceramicist Ólöf Erla Bjarnadóttir and geologist Snæbjörn Guðmundsson, In Search of Porcelain examines the history of porcelain, and the role that the minerals around us play in our culture and society.
The idea for the project was sparked by the history of porcelain, the impact of this remarkable substance on our culture, and the way its production has driven constant experimentation and technical advances throughout history. A process of evolution that has led to massive expansion and distribution of this material. And as an integral part of our daily lives we rarely give thought to the origins of the substances behind porcelain, which lie in a centuries-long process of evolution. A progression in humanity’s relationship with nature – driven by the indefatigable curiosity of mankind – in the constant quest to transform previously unutilised aspects of nature. This search for Icelandic porcelain is propelled by that same curiosity and desire for transformation – as substances are removed from their natural setting and given a new role and a new form.