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Parachute x Jono Pandolfi: Behind the Design

Jono Pandolfi in his ceramic studio
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
Spencer Wells
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Meet Jono Pandolfi, the ceramic artist behind the eponymous range of dinnerware you've enjoyed at top restaurants around the country. Launching his line in 2004, Jono and his team carefully consider the form, functionality and durability of dishes that allow us to gather around the table, break bread and celebrate life. We pride ourselves on working with expert craftspeople from around the globe and the Jono Pandolfi team is no exception. Join us as Jono shares how he shaped our first collaboration and the new pieces we can't wait to share with you all. 

How did the Parachute x Jono Pandolfi collaboration come to be? Tell us more about the design process!

I first met the Parachute team at a trade show. I'd seen their bedding online, but this was the first time we'd crossed paths. Parachute has a minimal design aesthetic that dovetails nicely with the look of our dinnerware. We rarely do partnerships, but I've always been a big fan of Parachute and was excited about the prospect of working with their design team. This collaboration takes some of our most popular dinnerware shapes and brings in design inspiration from Parachute, specifically in terms of color.

What was the inspiration behind the colors?

Parachute had a few colors in mind that would work well with their existing fall 2020 line and we took it from there, adjusting one of our glaze formulas to try and achieve the ink color they had in mind. Having worked with many chefs, thinking about how food looks on plate is a major consideration in my creative process and we have crafted a collection that really takes that into account. We can't wait for customers to welcome the new Toast colorway for 2021 into their homes and their dinnerware collections.

Ceramic dishes instantly elevate a dinner table and the meal. What makes crafting ceramics special in your eyes?

The medium of ceramics is something that instantly captivated me when I was first exposed to it. I was attracted to the permanence of the objects that I created. Having always been interested in making functional pottery, it's extremely gratifying to make work on a larger scale. My team is able to handcraft hundreds of pieces per day that are all put into use by people who care about the dishes they eat or serve from.

Can you share how you started making ceramics? What draws you to dinnerware and tabletop pieces?

I am drawn to the intimacy of making a product that people use and care for everyday. 

I was first exposed to ceramics in high school, and there was an immediate interest in pursuing it professionally. My ceramics teacher took me on a studio visit to Cornwall Bridge Pottery, a production potter in Connecticut with a huge wood burning kiln. As I observed the work and interior of the studio and creative process, I felt a sense of amazement and that's still with me today. 

As my career progressed, I went from teaching ceramics at Millbrook School, where I got started working with clay, to finally opening my own studio in Long Island City, Queens in 2004. My first jobs were for retailers like Anthropology and Calvin Klein Home. From there, collaborations ensued and I stumbled into the world of hospitality tabletop and began designing and making custom pieces for restaurateurs on a small scale. Gradually, I mastered the process of making larger pieces such as dinner plates which offered access to bigger projects. My first major restaurant job was Eleven Madison Park.

I enjoy the challenge of making sculptural objects. Making dinnerware is more rewarding than I ever thought it might be, and I look forward to doing this for years to come.