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June 2015

Kiln It
WRITTEN BY: Elizabeth Pandolfi
PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Ruta Elvikyte

Whether creating fine art sculptures or in-demand tableware, Fiorenzo Berardozzi trusts in the beauty of wabi sabi

 

Over the past four years, you might say CBFB Tablescapes, founded on a lark by ceramicists Fiorenzo Berardozzi and Chip Burr, has been on fire. The men have made earthy, elegant tableware for two U.S. Department of State events as well as local eateries Husk, McCrady’s, The Ocean Room, and Tavern & Table—plus restaurants in Las Vegas and Maine—and earned mentions in Dwell and Bon Appétit.

While Berardozzi, co-owner of Cone 10 Studios, is thrilled with the success, it has meant neglecting the abstract sculptural work he’s focused on since moving to town in 2004; soon that will change. The Italian-born artist—whose family immigrated to a tiny South Dakota ranching town when he was five—fills us in and shares details on Cone 10’s Piccolo Spoleto group exhibition, “Plate It Up.”  

His practical start: My father was a bricklayer, and I worked with him until I was about 23. He taught me about one aspect of art-making: materials; the importance of having a good foundation.

Art education: It was only in college, at the University of South Dakota, that I really got involved with art. I immediately went to ceramics because I saw similarities in the way I was used to working with my father.

From bricks to ceramics: Stone masonry is brutal work that transforms you mentally and physically. My sculptures—created from clay, as bricks are—reflect that transformation. I start with a sort of skeleton and work out, adding what you might think of as organs and skin. As I do, the piece’s physicality changes and things slump and move and break. You start to see how the inside affects the outside.  

CBFB’s tableware: Our dishes are about wabi sabi, the perfectly imperfect. I believe that the chefs react to the fact that they are all a little different and plate the food according to the plate itself. I think that engages the chefs and enhances or challenges their abilities.

State Department connection: Jason Larkin is the State Department’s executive chef, and he looks for American-made products to use during events. He saw our plates at Husk and visited the studio, later asking if we’d make serving dishes for a Fourth of July event.

What’s next: Chip and I have been working really hard for the last few years, and now we plan to go back to our original intent, which was higher-end, smaller runs of distinct designs. My wife and I recently moved, so I have a new home studio and plan to get back to my sculpting.

On “Plate It Up:” The setting is going to be quaint, almost as if it’s your own dining room. Pieces by Cone 10’s 28 artists, curated by Randi Weinstein [formerly of Charleston Wine + Food Festival, now with Butcher & Bee], will be displayed on tables made by Stephen Wain of Wain Green Wood. It will be a really cool exchange of ideas.

Visiting Italy: I visit for about a month each summer. It’s my time to rejuvenate. Once, I didn’t go, and my wife says I was grumpy all year. I work with my relatives on their farm, making cheese, picking grapes. And I hang out with four guys I’ve known since childhood, doing old, traditional Italian stuff. This time, I’ll also attend the 2015 Milan Expo, which deals with world hunger.  

“Plate It Up” is on exhibit through June 21 at Cone 10 Studios, 1080 Morrison Dr. (843) 853-3345, www.cone10studios.com.