Pinocchio Vase, 2011
This is a vase. It was designed by Philipp Bruni and manufactured by Neue Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur GmbH & Co KG. It is dated 2011 and we acquired it in 2011. Its medium is glazed molded and weighted hard-paste porcelain. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.
Although it was known to the Chinese since about the 9th century, the quest for the secret to making hard paste porcelain (a mixture of kaolin and petuntse), was a source of great competition 18th-century Europe; its “discovery” in Europe was a defining technical and artistic accomplishment.
While the Meissen manufactory near Dresden first produced hard paste porcelain in 1710, Vienna was not far behind. In addition to studying books by missionaries from China, Claudius Innocentius du Paquier bribed Meissen employees who knew the secret of porcelain. He hired Christoph Hunger from Meissen in 1717 and applied for permission to build a porcelain factory. Completed in 1718, the factory was only the second of its kind in Europe. Although the venture was not financially successful, the cachet of having a porcelain factory was such that Empress Maria Theresa purchased it in 1744, naming it the Kaiserliches Porzellanmanufactur (Imperial Porcelain Factory). The imperially owned factory was shut down by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1864. This gave rise to a number of smaller enterprises, some of which evolved into new manufactories. One of these was the Wiener Porzellanfabrik Augarten (Vienna Porcelain Manufactory in Augarten), which opened in the outskirts of Vienna in 1922. The manufactory produced many new designs in porcelain and also took over models previously produced at the Imperial Porcelain Factory. Early 20th-century Viennese designers, such as Josef Hoffmann and Otto Prutscher, designed for the factory, working with strong colors and contrasting black and white designs rather than the softer colors favored in the previous centuries. Hoffmann and Prutscher are both represented in the museum’s Lobmeyr glass collection, and the museum’s holdings of Hoffmann’s textiles display the strong black and white aesthetic he favored in his porcelain.
Austrian designer Philipp Bruni alludes to this era with his Pinnochio vase. So named for its long neck (instead of nose), the tumbler shape, a design that Bruni developed, has the ability to right itself after being tipped over. This depends on a system of iron ball bearings, carefully positioned in the bulbous body and fixed in place with molten resin. The vase can be poised at any angle by the addition of a small rubberized ring that holds it in position so that it does not roll. Several vases together can be used at different angles for a varied effect.
The vase form is created when liquid porcelain is poured into a plaster cast. The cast is removed and the remainder of the slip is left on so that the vase can be suspended upside down while it dries and is polished to a perfect form. The vase is then fired, followed by the application of the factory mark and a further polishing before the glaze is applied to the exterior by hand and the vase is suspended again for a second firing.
While the vase’s decoration makes reference to some of Hoffmann’s designs, primarily for flat surfaces, it requires complex technical skills to apply rectangular shapes on a curved surface. The checkerboard effect is created by the use of collodion (a viscous liquid invented in the mid-19th century, originally used in early photography and for dressing wounds) to cover the areas that become white checks, while the black checks are hand-painted in between. The collodion is then removed by hand and the piece is re-fired in a special apparatus that suspends the vase upside down without leaving any marks. The vase is suspended like this so that the weight is on top. This enables the rounded base vase to be tipped without falling over once the resin and balls are fixed in place inside the vase.
Based in Milan since 2006, Bruni has developed innovative designs in porcelain and lighting designs for Molto Luce. He also creates spatial environments, including the flagship store for the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory in Augarten, which includes Porcelain Heaven, a ceiling of porcelain elements.
The collaboration between a designer who understands the potential of his medium and a producer with the requisite skills to execute a very complicated production in such a fragile medium make this an exciting addition to the history of porcelain design. The vase represents an innovative use of a medium that many designers are only beginning to rediscover.
Pinnochio is available in additional patterns: all white, white with varying bands of black, and a set of billiard ball designs. The contemporary visual appeal of the checkerboard pattern, in addition to its historical references, make this version of the vase the most appropriate candidate for the museum’s collection.
It is credited
Neue Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur GmbH & Co KG.
Its dimensions are
H x diam.: 30.5 x 10.2 cm (12 x 4 in.)
It has the following markings
On underside, painted in black: "0/10, 897/2, 6635, 226"; stamped in blue: manufacturer's mark/"Wien"; painted in blue: "Augarten/Vienna/Handpainted"
Cite this object as
Pinocchio Vase, 2011; Designed by Philipp Bruni (Austrian, b. 1982); Austria; glazed molded and weighted hard-paste porcelain; H x diam.: 30.5 x 10.2 cm (12 x 4 in.); Neue Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur GmbH & Co KG; 2011-48-1