Chefs from over 250 Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as Lenny Kravitz, Nicole Kidman and Oprah Windfrey have all fallen for Stefanie Hering’s bold and uncompromising design. Founder of Hering Berlin, a traditional Berlin porcelain factory, the designer is changing our perception of porcelain and the dinner set, while perpetuating traditional craftsmanship.

Some of the greatest chefs have entrusted her with plating their culinary creations. She is said to be pragmatic, without forgetting that a good design must work while bringing pleasure and tranquillity to the kitchen. To achieve this, she works closely with the traditional factory in Reichenbach, Germany. There, she trains the master craftsmen and experiments with them on innovative shapes, enamels and embellishments. Every object designed by Hering Berlin is imbued with a know-how that has been passed down from generation to generation and an attention to detail that is only possible as part of a fully artisan production process.

Why did you choose porcelain as a subject of expression and exploration?

My grandparents had a farm. Eating together was an important part of our family life. I realised early on that food deserved to be nicely presented at the table and I wanted to construct that setting. At the age of 16, I started a pottery apprenticeship and found myself enjoying more and more the beauty, the possibilities, but also the challenges that porcelain offers. That’s why I decided to pursue further studies in ceramic design and in doing so I discovered my style, and what I wanted to give to the world. My porcelain tells the story of this passion, my desire to always question this forum for dialogue. 

How do you come up with your works and who are they for?

I create for people, for design lovers, chefs and private consumers. My premise is that design should be highly attractive, beautiful! So, it made sense for some institutions to include this work amongst their museum collections and international exhibitions and thereby make them accessible to the general public.

At the same time, my dinner sets must also be very functional – take, for example, the sliding of a spoon over the dish:  what type of enamel is it? What noise does the cutlery make on it? How will we naturally hold the dish both on and off the table? My meetings with great chefs and understanding their desires and needs are what trigger the creation of objects, which will later become signature pieces for the Hering Berlin brand.

“Evolution” series

I travel the world with my eyes wide open and find inspiration in everything – in design, art, fashion, nature. But also in the evolution of society, in our lifestyles, in our relationship to the world and its resources – especially in the natural materials that I work with. Whether it’s glass or porcelain… I let the material breathe, I don’t impose a shape on it. You have to really know your material to be able to use it experimentally. That is the only way to create something new, an organic design that isn’t marked by time. Essentially, I design things that I have never come across anywhere before. Things that I have always been missing and that I am now creating. 

How have you evolved your approach over the years?

In general, I push the boundaries of the materials I work with. That’s how I went from porcelain design to porcelain art. The collaboration with the Goethe-Institute, who sponsored an exhibition of my Ratchaburi clay pieces, was definitely an important step. It is an artistic edition of large containers that cannot be found anywhere else in such quality and size.

Clay pieces from the collaboration with the Goethe-Institut

The same goes for glass: a new avenue! In addition to my collections of glasses and decanters, I am now developing a line of light fittings. I have gone from table to architecture, for example, with the Ray Dance series of glass chandeliers. I mix the practices of design, architecture and art – and sometimes also the usual spheres in which the materials are used. Porcelain in art? There is still far too little of it.

Interview by Amélie Cabon 
Images : Hering Berlin
Stefanie Hering and the chandelier Ray Dance