Glazing pigments and vases kept separate for A Matter of Colour exhibition

Instead of applying coloured pigments to these vases, Scottish designer Dean Brown has placed the powder in glass tubes and suspended it away from the undecorated surfaces (+ slideshow).


Brown created a series of 14 white unglazed vases based on classical shapes from the archive of Parisian porcelain company Sèvres, for an exhibition titled A Matter of Colour.


To each of the vessels in the Vase Collection, hand-blown glass tubes and flasks containing coloured pigments are attached in a variety of ways – forming handles, lids and decorative features balanced on appendages.


The transparent containers were created to hold the colour away from the surface to which it would normally be applied.


"The viewer is encouraged to imagine the white form transformed by the colour, invited to make their own interpretation of the potential between the object and the unapplied colour," said the designer.

Glazing samples are laid out in front of each vase to show how each of the pigments hung from its form look when applied to the porcelain.


Alongside the vases, the exhibition includes the Colour Wheel installation – a slowly rotating carousel of glass test tubes filled with 24 of Sèvres' most vivid pigments.


The powders rise and fall like sand timers as the wheel turns, while a factory tool known to Sèvres craftsmen as the Pallette Vase is positioned at the centre.


Painted with every colour swatch of the Sèvres Pallette, it is used much like a contemporary Pantone chart, and is being shown outside the factory for the first time.


A limited-edition series of eight Pallette Vases has been made and will be available to purchase.

Another factory tool used in the colouring of porcelain is the Test Vase. Two-dozen vases have been painted in the 24 colours featured in the colour wheel, and adorned with a cork and brass tag denoting the factory code for its colour.


This is another item that is being made, shown and sold for public consumption for the first time.

"The Vase Collection, the Colour Wheel and the Test Vases refer to different facets of the colouring process, demonstrating the journey from pigment, through swatch to full colour," said Brown.


A Matter of Colour is on show at Sèvres' Cité de la Céramique museum until 31 July 2015.

The exhibition is part of a wider trend for revealing the making process behind products, which was encapsulated by the Power of Making exhibition at London's V&A museum in 2011.