SEPT 19, 2022

Designer of the Day: Casey Zablocki


About the Show

Casey Zablocki mines nature, artifice, and the memories of his own relationships for inspiration when creating his stoneware pieces, whose ancient appearance and eroded textures are the result of being fired in one of America’s largest anagama kilns for weeks at a time. From monumental sculptures to intimately sized vessels, each piece has its own personality—a reflection of the Missoula-based artist’s fascinations with growth, decay, and pushing his medium to the absolute limit.

Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.

Age: 40

Occupation: Artist and designer.

Instagram: @zablockiceramics

Hometown: I grew up in Hubbell, MI, and currently live in Missoula, MT.

Studio location: Missoula.

Describe what you make: I create ceramic sculptures and furniture. I fire these pieces in a large wood-fired kiln for eight days around the clock, which gives the work a unique, one-of-a-kind surface. During my sculpting process, I reference past and present—time and decay. I make a wide range of work in size, scale, and forms, with a heavy influence from brutalist architecture. I hope to constantly be evolving but there are definitely forms that I keep coming back to, like my vases and jars.

The most important thing you’ve designed to date: I don’t know if there’s necessarily one thing that’s more important than the other. All of my pieces—from large to small–hold the same energy for me. If I had to choose one thing specific, seeing my first ceramic chair emerge from the wood kiln was pretty powerful.

Describe the problem your work solves: I don’t think of it as a problem, but more how I’m contributing to the world. I’m not really changing or solving any of the (many) issues in this world, but maybe I’m adding some unexpected beauty into someone’s daily lives. 

Describe the project you are working on now: My show “Modern Relics” with Roman and Williams’s Guild Gallery in New York, which opened on Sept. 15. It’s a huge body of work I’ve worked on for the past 1.5 years—pieces ranging in size from an ambitious nine-foot-tall sculpture to a small six-inch sculpture.

A new or forthcoming project we should know about: I’m in the development of my next body of work. I’m hoping to explore more large-scale sculptures and monolithic forms. Stay tuned!

What you absolutely must have in your studio: Music, plants, my photographer (who’s also my wife), and our dog Ingrid.

What you do when you’re not working: Remodeling our 1910 shotgun home, spending time in the garden, and riding/tinkering with my 77 shovelhead custom build motorcycle. 

Sources of creative envy: Woof, this list could be so long! David Smith, Franz Kline, Shiro Tsujimura, Suzuki Goro, Richard Serra, Peter Voulkos… it could go on and on. I was influenced early on by my uncle Tim Zablocki. I had the incredible pleasure to work alongside Hun Chung Lee and Ty Best—both amazing designers and makers. I’d also be remiss to not mention Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of Roman and Williams. Their vision is outstanding.

The distraction you want to eliminate: Maybe they’re welcome distractions? I get a lot of wonderful friends and neighbors that stop by the studio, but honestly I don’t know what I’d do without the love and support from my community. Maybe my work is a bit of a distraction from spending more time with these people. I tend to get absorbed by my studio practice and get tunnel vision at times. The mountains are also a bit of a welcomed distraction. There are only so many hours in a day and days in a week before seasons change. I try to get out as much as possible, whether running the trails, enjoying the rivers, or snowboarding.

Concrete or marble? A year ago I’d say concrete! But currently I’m obsessed with the idea of seeing my forms in marble.

High-rise or townhouse? Cabin in the woods?! Townhouse if I have to choose.

Remember or forget? Remember.

Aliens or ghosts? Aliens.

Dark or light? Dark.