Both are graduates of Monash University—Gregory has a BA in Ceramic Design and Anthony a BA in Industrial Design—and the combination of their skills and knowledge, and intelligence and curiosity, which is characteristic of bears—“Anthony and I are both very active left and right brain thinkers,” says Gregory—is clearly evident in their work. Specialising in porcelain, the Bears produce a range of clean, geometric and functional lighting and tableware for domestic and commercial use. “We like to think we have our own visual language that has developed over many years of our love of design,” the Bears explain, “but that also is indicative of the synergy between us. There’s a strong commonality in the things we love and admire.”
The Bears met at a design function in 2009 and sparked up a conversation over an exhibition piece they both admired. They quickly became firm friends, “spending time chatting about life and design;” and Anthony offered to help Gregory, who had just started a large tile commission as well as developing his new brand Porcelain Bear, producing and selling his work under his own name. With a common admiration for more than just design, their working relationship flourished. They became partners in design and in business in 2010, followed by partners in life in 2011, and have both been working full time as Porcelain Bear since early 2014.
“One of our driving inspirations is the desire and intention to be distinctive, timeless, unique and faithful to our aesthetic,” say the Bears, “while exploiting the intrinsic beauty of the medium we specialise in.” Indeed, while porcelain is an intricate and expressive material, it does require great precision, technical discipline and intuition; and it also has its limitations. “Design must always be appropriate to the medium it’s intended for and some of our forms look the way they do because they are appropriate for porcelain, as well as being distinctively Porcelain Bear.”
Gregory and Anthony design products that are clean and sophisticated with the visual lightness and physical durability that is characteristic of porcelain. “Our aesthetic reveals the synergy between us as life partners,” the pair says, and they workshop their ideas in a process they describe as “concept tennis,” by throwing ideas back forth and developing them over time. “We are both designers so we both love the satisfaction associated with creating our own pieces but we are also both editors of each others’ work,” the Bears explain. “We’re close enough on a personal level to be quite intuitive with each other’s work and our aesthetic alignment augments this process.” Indeed, the couple’s great admiration and intuition both for each other and for design is obvious not only in their work but their relationship. “Life is a collaboration,” the Bears say, “and we’re very comfortable with this.”
Porcelain Bear Australia