Ceramic Table at the Royal Academy of Arts

Exhibition: AL_A's Ceramic Table selected for white, a project by Edmund de Waal

September 25 2015

AL_A’s Ceramic Table has been selected for white, a project by Edmund de Waal at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

On display throughout the Library and Print Room of the Royal Academy, the exhibition will be a personal exploration of the colour white, an expression of de Waal’s ongoing fascination with its use, meanings and impact.

The Ceramic Table is one of over 40 works that de Waal has chosen from the RA Collection and private collections including sculpture, paintings, photographs and books, to interweave throughout the Library. Interspersed amongst the library’s shelves and cabinets, these unexpected encounters invite a quiet and serendipitous journey of discovery.

The story of the Ceramic Table began in the Victoria & Albert Museum, amongst the extensive collection of ceramics that inspired us to design the world’s first porcelain courtyard for our Exhibition Road project.

Working with ceramics at the V&A, we became intrigued by the long history of the material, its numerous applications and its incredible fineness.

And so the idea of making a small piece of furniture with ceramic, a material not associated with furniture design, emerged through our fascination with this alchemy of fire and clay.

The Ceramic Table challenges perceptions of materiality and structure, history and modernity, form and function.

A seemingly impossible piece that combines incredible strength and visual fragility, the Ceramic Table embodies an everyday item with new meaning. It articulates the structural performance of ceramics to make an exquisitely beautiful, yet functional, object.

Its reductive silhouette is a product of both advanced technologies and artisanal craft, mathematics and design. The contradiction of a piece of furniture made of something so vulnerable creates an ethereal outline that deceives us of its actual strength.

The Ceramic Table is born of research and development stretching back into ceramic’s history and into its future. It is crafted in sintered silicon carbide, an incredibly dense ceramic used by today’s medical and aerospace industries, is matched with a traditional crackle glaze.

We did not realise that as we undertook research to understand, and to challenge, the potential of ceramics, that we had set out on a journey where each new discovery fuelled a desire to continue examining the material’s capabilities.

As we have chased perfection, the Ceramic Table project has become as much a story about the process of making and the uniqueness of ceramic as the final piece itself.


a project by Edmund de Waal

26 September 2015 – 3 January 2016

The Library and Print Rooms, Royal Academy of Arts

Further information and tickets