Dine at any good restaurant these days and chances are, you’ll notice that the plates are no longer the standard run-off-the-mill white porcelain so associated with fine dining. Instead, they’re somewhat uneven in form and colour, and those with a keen eye would notice that no two plates are identical.

Such is the beauty of handmade functional ceramics, and chefs have lately been embracing the art form as part of their restaurant’s dining experience. Often, the pieces are made in collaboration with a potter who’s either local or from a neighbouring country.

SEE ALSO: The best way to cook golden oyster mushrooms from Kin Yan Agrotech

Indeed, Southeast Asia is fertile ground whether you’re on the hunt for functional ceramics for home or restaurant, or looking for a studio to learn how to craft your own. The region has millennia of history in pottery; archaeology has uncovered the presence of bowls and plates in early communities across mainland and archipelagic Southeast Asia. After all, it is an incredibly primal activity that only requires clay, heat and a pair of hands to create objects that are as beautiful as they are functional.

Today, there exists a thriving community of artists both contemporary and traditional. Whether you’re looking for heritage art or Instagrammable dinnerware, we’ve combed the region for studios, workshops and artists to satiate all your ceramic needs.

This growing directory includes studios, makers, sellers and stockists in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia. Have suggestions to add? Comment below!

Ceramic studios, makers and sellers in Singapore

Ceramics in Southeast Asia
The interiors of Mud Rock Ceramics

Mud Rock Ceramics
This 1,300 sq ft ceramic studio stands out in an area better known for heavy industries and the odd KTV bar. It’s run by founders Seok Har and Michelle Lim whose mission is to put functional ceramics into as many hands as possible. That goal seems to be on track as the studio counts establishments like Lerouy and Plentyfull as its clients. Aside from catering to chefs and restaurants, the duo also run workshops and a biannual sale where the public can walk in and snap up their wares. 85 Maude Rd, Singapore 208357, +65 6291 1186.

Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle
Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle — a sprawling site in the far west of Singapore — boasts 53 years of operations. That’s a long time considering Singapore became independent the same time year it was founded. The space is home to the country’s oldest surviving dragon kiln — a cavernous wood-fired oven made of bricks. While the business is steep with history, today, it has a young face by way of Stella Tan, the third generation owner whose work is seen in restaurants like Summer House as well as Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee. 85 Lor Tawas, Singapore 639823, +65 6268 6121.

Ceramics in Southeast Asia
Ceramic pieces from Usually Usual.

Usually Usual
Those who prefer the raw beauty of nude beauty of the medium can check out Usually Usual, a ceramic studio which puts out a small number of pieces. Some of the more interesting collections includes ‘Pigment’ where clay from various parts of Singapore like Newton, Jurong and Yishun are turned into vessels for serving food. These come with advisories on the different characteristics of the clay and how it can be used. The Jurong and Yishun ceramic pieces for instance are ideal for both dry and liquid food, but the vessels made from clay in Newton is better for serving dry food as the minerals in the medium are much larger. http://www.usuallyusual.com.

Clay Journey
Many of Singapore’s clay studios are started by relatively new ceramicists. Clay Journey isn’t one of them. The shop space just outside of Sultan Gate was started by award winning ceramics artist Steven Low who has more than 23 years of experience under his belt. As a longtime practitioner, he has been taking up residences across Asia and today, carries functional works made of clay from Australia and Singapore (specifically Jalan Besar) in his store. He has also worked with restaurants like Tippling Club to produce tableware. 71A Sultan Gate, Singapore 198496, steven@clayjourney.sg.

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Studio Asobi
Husband and wife team Lee Huiwen and Kenneth Lau count Michelin-starred restaurants like Whitegrass as their clientele. That’s no mean feat considering the duo started out their journey in pottery only as a hobby. Since then, the’ve grown from strength to strength including participating in 2015’s Chawan Expo in Belgium. The studio also conducts small workshops limited to 12 participants on a monthly basis. Blk 705 Hougang Ave 2 #02-265, Singapore 530705, +65 6656-3008.

Goodman Ceramic Studio
The online store at Goodman Ceramic Studio may not be well-stocked for good reason: workshops and services for fellow potters take centre stage. There’s a wide range of programs for all ages including specialised ones from wheel throwing to hand building while artist access is available for trained practitioners without access to expensive studio equipment, materials and kilns. Goodman Arts Centre, 90 Goodman Rd, #01-37 Block F, Singapore 439053, +65 6346-6351.

Ceramic studios, makers and sellers in Malaysia

Bendang Studio
Plates from Bendang Studio in Malacca.

Bendang Studio – Malacca
10-year-old establishment Bendang Studio in Malacca is one of the earliest Malaysian studios to harness the might of social media as a marketing platform. Despite being based in Malacca (specifically Alor Gajah), the studio’s creations have made it on plenty of hip cafe tables across the country’s capital. Its founder, Rozana Musa, takes great pride in incorporating clay from the river behind her grandmother’s house, where she used to play as a child into her pieces today. KM 20, Kampung Sungai Petai, Alor Gajah, 78000 Alor Gajah, Melaka +60 13-677 3970.

Thirty3eleven – Kuala Lumpur
Handmade geometrically shaped plates and bowls aren’t the most common designs and that’s the main aesthetic that Thirty3eleven’s founder Lee Ee Vee has cultivated for her three-year-old business using clay from Johor. As of now, it’s still a small one-woman show so there are no workshops or a storefront for the public to walk in and make their purchase. Instead, her pieces are stocked at Kedai Bikin as well as select pop ups around Kuala Lumpur. instagram.com/thirty3eleven.

Legle Gaia
Plates from Legle Gaia.

Legle Gaia
Porcelain with a purpose — that seems to be the mantra with Legle Gaia, a new name that was launched in Bangkok during the inaugural {RE} forum held earlier this year. Its pieces are made with natural raw materials like clays, feldspar, quartz and kaolin with recycled glaze. Imperfections and iron spots on pieces are covered with small decals instead of being discarded. my-gaia.com.

Clay Expression – Petaling Jaya
There are studios known for their beautiful functional ceramics and then there are studios that act as spaces for other potters and artists. Clay Expression is the former. The establishment offers a social environment and services for practitioners of the craft on top of workshops as well as custom orders. Lot 757, No.5 Block C, Jalan Subang 3, 47610 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, +60 12-3805505.

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Muhammad Iqbal Awang Damit, founder of Bangkita Ceramic Studio. Photo source: Bangkita Ceramic Studio’s facebook page.

Bangkita Ceramic Studio  – Sijangkang
Arts enthusiast and founder of Bangkita Studio Muhammad Iqbal Awang Damit is no smalltime dabbler in the craft of pottery. The 27-year-old furthered his studies in ceramics at Universiti Teknologi Mara and had a training stint in South Korea where he admired how pottery is ingrained in the fabric of Korean society. Today, his 4,046 square metre space creates out items like vases and candleholders, art pieces and tableware. It even has accommodation for visiting students with further plans to create lodging for tourists interested in the ceramic arts. Lot 921, Jalan Tanjung, Kg Sijangkang, 42500 Telok Panglima Garang, Selangor, Malaysia.

Ilham Ceramics – Langkawi
Look beyond Langkawi as a beach destination and you’ll find a thriving arts scene home to Ilham Ceramics — the first ceramics studio in the district. It was established in 2007 by Radzi Ismail and specialises in dinnerware glazed in vibrant hues of green, blue and red, with some pieces inspired by corals and sea life. Despite its modest size, the studio counts luxury properties like the recently unveiled St Regis Langkawi and Ritz Carlton Langkawi as its clients. 150A, Kampung Bendang Baru, 07000 Kuah, Langkawi, Kedah, +60 13-599 4022.

Dapoware
Sustainable carpentry specialist Harith Ridzuan — long known for taking over his family’s 23-year-old business with large furnishings — has entered the kitchen in recent years. Named Dapoware, the brand leans towards wooden items like serving boards and coasters while handmade ceramics take up a small part of its slate of offerings. Main office: Lot P.T 12725, Jalan 16, Kampung Baru Ampang, 68000 Ampang, Selangor, +6 03 4287 0347.

Ceramic studios, makers and sellers in Indonesia

gaya ceramics
One of the pieces from Gaya Ceramics in Bali.

Bengkel Keramik Puspa 5 – Jakarta
Indonesia’s sprawing metropolis, Jakarta is home to Bengkel Keramik Puspa 5, owned and run by ceramicist Haryoadiputro Soenggono. The space specialises in dinnerware from plates, bowls and cups and also runs classes for the public. Jl. Puspa no.5 Blok S Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta, Indonesia, +62 021-5224271.

Gaya Ceramic – Bali
Gaya Ceramic is arguably Indonesia’s most famous of ceramic makers. It could be due to Bali’s status as a major tourist destination, but the studio has made a name for itself, having supplied to restaurants from Locavore in Ubud to Whitegrass in Singapore — both of which are on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2018. It is founded by Italian couple Marcello and Michela in 2001 and today, have over 100 craftsmen shaping, glazing and firing the pieces. Jl. Raya Sayan 105, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia 80571, +62 (0) 361 976220.

Kembara Studio – Bali
Bali’s newest ceramic studio also has the most interesting pieces — by material at least. The brand carries a small range of plates, cups and spoons made of clay from Bali and Kalimantan, glazed with the ashes of Mount Agung. It’s only available at select pop ups as well as at Alun Alun in Jakarta. Contact: tanyakembara@gmail.com. Stockist address: Jl. MH Thamrin No.1, RT.1/RW.5, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 10310, +62 21 23580895.

kevala_bali_ceramics_our_collections
Some of the pieces from Kevala Ceramics.

Kevala Ceramics – Bali
Kevala’s name in Sanskrit means perfect, whole, and complete — an approach it takes in delivering its contemporary vessels to clients like hotels and restaurants. It’s a well-run operation with multiple storefronts all over Bali from Ubud to Seminyak and Karangasem with craftsmen supported by an in-house designer. Multiple locations. Jl. Dewisita No.1, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia, +62 361 5792532.

Jenggala Keramik – Bali
Bali may be crowded out with pottery businesses but Jenggala Keramik is the first of such studios. It was conceived in 1976 by three founding members: Brent Hesselyn, a pottery artist from New Zealand, hotel magnate Wija Waworuntu and his daughter Ade Waworuntu. The company has over 2,700 designs, 200 glazes and works with hotels and resorts across the world. Multiple locations. Jln. Danau Tamblingan No. 51 Sanur, Bali Indonesia, +62 361 283415.

Ceramic studios, makers and sellers in Thailand

Yarnnakarn
Pieces inspired by sealife by Yarnnakarn Art & Craft studio.

Yarnnakan Art & Craft Studio – Bangkok
There is a certain dark romance about the pieces that Yarnnakan Art & Craft Studio produces. There are intricate spoons, bowls and plates that take on the form of seashells complete with its dark ridges and spikes as well as curious objet d’arts of headless figurines that double up as flower vases. The clay body is gathered from locations around Thailand and mixed in the studio. บ.027-029 MRT Kampangpetch (Exit1) Opposite Jatujak market Bangkok, +66 (0)99 152 4635.

InClay Studio Pottery – Chiang Mai
Founded in 2011, artist Jirawong Wongtrangan uses clay from Chiang Mai as his medium — perfect as the topography affords various colours. As an artist, a lot of his work is geometric in form or paint. Take for instance the range he has on his gallery featuring vases and teapots in contemporary checkered pattern. He also has ongoing collaboration with independent online magazine The Kindcraft offering pristine white stoneware in the form of mugs, teapots, bowls and spoons. Sirorot Rd 3, เมืองเชียงใหม่ Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand, +66 81 785 1943.

Charm-Learn Studio Thailand – Bangkok
This quaint space might offer all manner of workshops from fabric dyeing to photography, but it started life offering only ceramics classes. Most of its courses require a commitment of two days with single day classes limited only to a five hour ceramic underglaze class. Those living in the city with keen interest in the pottery arts can take up the 12-session wheel throwing class. 95 Phraeng Sanphasat Rd, Khwaeng San Chao Pho Sua, Khet Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand, +66 80 587 6331.

Ceramic studios, makers and sellers in Cambodia

Khmer Ceramics

Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre – Siem Reap
Cambodia has a long history of pottery dating back to 3000 BC. Much of this disappeared with the genocide that wiped out millions in the 70s under the rule of Pol Pot. Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre was started to revive this tradition, working with the less fortunate communities in Siem Reap. Today, its location conducts workshops with a two storey gallery where visitors can make their purchases. #130, Vithey Charles de Gaulle (Temple Road), Khum Slorkram, Siem Reap, Angkor, Cambodia, +855 17 843 014.

Angkor Pottery Center – Siem Reap
Traditional forms of pottery take pride of place alongside contemporary options at Angkor Pottery Center — a space founded and run by skilled potter Paruth Hann. There are traditional pieces like intricately carved Khmer offering pots and candle holders in the shape of a closed lotus blossom as well as accessories like necklaces and rings for men and women. Main street 63, Wat Atwear village, Siem Reap 855500, Cambodia, +855 12 755 286

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