Jono Pandolfi Designs
Tell us about your business.I started out creating bud vases and chopstick holders for the cafes at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2004. On that project, I discovered an untapped niche for creating custom tabletop design for chefs. Since then, I have worked closely with chefs to assess the needs of their restaurants, to create pieces that will highlight their cuisine in new ways, and to provide versatility and functionality throughout the seasons. I have worked more than a dozen collaborations with chefs like Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, NYC), April Bloomfield (Tosca Cafe, San Francisco), and Wylie Dufresne (WD~50, NYC), learning how to optimize forming and firing techniques to produce better consistency and quality for restaurants. Of course, this benefits our retail customers as well--the durability of our dinnerware is unparalleled. A broad selection of our ware is available (with wedding registry) at JonoPandolfi.com, with home decor pieces also sold via Calvin Klein Collection.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.My studio in Union City, NJ, overlooks the Hudson River and Midtown Manhattan. We typically have a team of five artisans working collaboratively every day to make our dinnerware. There are more than 16 steps that go into our 100% handmade products, from rolling and forming to glazing and firing each piece. We operate with several potters wheels and six kilns, producing orders that range from 12 to 500 place settings of custom dinnerware.
What inspires you?The inspiration behind most of my work is the ceramic process itself. Experimenting daily in the studio, we constantly stumble across new aesthetic possibilities. The ceramic process is so demanding--there’s so much that can go wrong, from inconsistent clay to glaze flaws. I work with the materials, pushing to the razor’s edge of possibility, striving to achieve new shapes and styles for our clients. The rustic-chic aesthetic of Jono Pandolfi ware comes from stripping away embellishments, allowing pure forms to speak for themselves.
What makes your business stand out?We're as much of a design lab as a studio, working to push the limits of form and style in pieces that will work for a restaurant setting. Every week we meet with chef-clients to develop new ideas for tabletop pieces, from multi-tiered dessert plates to whimsical teapots. What also sets us apart is the quality of our ware, which is made in the USA, proven durable, and developed with innovative techniques. Our production capacity is larger than many other custom dinnerware producers, allowing us to make orders of up to 500 seven-piece place settings at a time. Because of our process innovations, we are able to produce a handmade product at a better price than many other makers.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Do whatever it takes to get your name and work out there, even if it means working for free. Stick with it through waves of rejections. The people who make it are the ones who keep on trucking despite setbacks. Don’t assume, once you have some success, that customers will keep coming. You need to be out there promoting your work constantly. Also, there’s a big difference between getting a product on the marketplace, and designing one that will actually sell. Be humble enough to learn from early mistakes.
What does American Made mean to you?American Made means high quality, taking the time to do things right, using the best materials and the most passionate people to make products that are original, hand-forged, and will last a lifetime. It's a quality commitment that I take seriously, working exclusively with American producers and suppliers. And now, it's gratifying to see my work appear at respected businesses around the country, from the NoMad Hotel, Atera, and Aureole in New York City to An Cuisines in Cary, North Carolina, and the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina.
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