Porcelain, Passion and Woman Power – A vistit to feinedinge Porcelain Design

The label feinedinge has just joined the WIEN PRODUCTS circle as one of its newest mebers. Feeling curious, I arrange a meeting to visit Sandra Haischberger – the founder of the company.

The company’s staff and its many porcelain products catch my eye, even before I go into its bright, light premises in Margarethenstraße  – you can get a look at the workshop attached to the store through the huge shop windows. I enter the shop and take a look around at the shelves with their neatly lined up containers, pots and vases in an array of colors and designs. In the middle of the room there is a very inviting fully set table and flowers decorate the scene.  

The boss comes over an explains what the porcelain series are called and when they were created. ALICE has already become a classic – it has become much loved over the last 10 years says Sandra Haischberger – the “pleated” containers and pots have won over the hearts of many customers from Scandianavia to Italy and Sydney to Kuwait. The enthusiasm is endless and new colors such as bright yellow are going down well.

The colors are generally very striking – there is everything from anthacite to tourquoise, salmon to bright yellow and beige – even though people often think porcelain is mostly white. “What’s special about my porcelain is that I began to color the clay. That is quite unusual. We have developed special mixtures for the coloring process, which are kept secret, of course. The advantage is that you don’t need to color the item with glaze. This means you can feel the fine texture and pleasant touch,” says Haischberger.

I would like to know what procelain manufacturing entails and how much craftmanship is used in each item until its finished and discover that six employees create the pieces, all of whom have a passion for “fine objects,” in addition to the boss herself.

The basic material, the porcelain clay, comes from Limoges in France, where it is created from feldspar, quartz and kaolin  – the main components of procelain. The clay is prepared in the workshop and poured into plaster molds. These soak up the moisture in the clay and the still very soft objects are then removed from the molds after a specific time. After drying, more work is done on the objects, edges are sanded and some designs – such as the very popular lanterns – get their openings. Following an initial firing, certain parts are glazed and the pots go back into the kiln.

I am interested in finding out how easy porcelain is to work with…. Sandra Haischberger laughs and says: “Procelain is a difficult material. You can always be in for a surprise when you open the kiln. The material has a life of its own. It is impossible to master it completely. It’s a good exercise in staying cool and keeping your nerve – which can be very difficult when trying to fulfil specific requests.”

If the clay is difficult, how do you handle the finished porcelain products – all the wonderful plates, beakers, cups, pots, dishes and containers – that I see during our fascinating conversation. Are they also so delicate?

I think it is important that our fine objects are functional and well thought out. Beauty is not unimportant, but ranks below functionality in terms of priority. Pots should not drip and continer lids should fit the bottoms well. Our products can most certainly be used on a day-to-day basis, can be stacked easily and cleaned in a dish washer,” says the woman who studied under Matteo Thun and Enzo Mari at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and whose love of ceramincs spurred her to set up her own company.

What began as an experiment in a loft, grew continually and a few years ago there was the opportunity to move to the current location in Margaretenstraße, following a small shop with an adjacent workshop. Now, there are seven ceramists working in 340 square meters of space and the products are sold on-site.

That sounds so cool. The atmosphere is good and you can feel how the work on the pieces is done with both joy and concentration. Of course, sustainability has also been a theme, with the series RAW developed just a few years ago. These objects are created from leftovers and bits of clay removed from unfired pots. The different colored clays are blended to create a unique color. As a result, each batch has its own stamp and is unique and rather special. Customers like these items as the shapes are the same but the colors are varied.

The ceramists go with the times, take their customers’s wishes seriously and are constantly developing something new.

I am impressed and say goodbye to Sandra Haischberger and her team of women ceramists. I am certain that the quality of the porcelain objects made by feinedinge is definitely worth the walk to Margaretenstraße!