Eva Zeisel's Remarkable Life

by BrendaReeves

Eva Zeisel, a world renowned industrial designer, famous for her work in ceramics, died on December 30, 2011 at age 105.

Éva Amália Striker

An Artistic Genius is Born

Eva Zeisel entered the world as Éva Amália Striker on November 13, 1906 in Budapest, Hungary. Passionate about the arts, Eva enrolled at Budapest's Magyar Képzőművészeti Akadémia Hungarian Royal Academy of Fine Arts, at the age of 17, as a painting major. Eva's concern that painting wasn't a practical profession led her to apprentice herself to the last pottery master in the medieval guild system. When she graduated as a journeyman, she began working for German ceramic manufacturers.

Pottery by Eva Zeisel

Collector Items

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Early Career


Eva began her career in 1928 in the Black Forest region of Germany. She worked for  Schramberger Majolikafabrik for two years, creating whimsical designs for tea sets, vases, inkwells and many other ceramic items. From there, Eva moved to Berlin and designed for the Carstens factories.

In 1932 Eva made what was supposed to be a visit to Russia, but she decided to stay taking on several jobs in the Russian ceramics industry. During this time, she inspected ceramic factories in the Ukraine and designed for the Lomonosov and Dulevo factories. Eva eventually became artistic director of the Russian China and Glass industry.

Eva's life took a harrowing turn on May 26 1936 while living in Moscow. Falsely accused of joining in on an assassination plot against Joseph Stalin, Eva was arrested and imprisoned for 16 months. Twelve of those months were spent in solitary confinement. During this time, the Soviets tortured and attempted to brainwash her. Her friend Arthur Koestler published a novel in 1941 on totalitarianism titled "Darkness at Noon."  It was based on her experience. "You never knew when the door would open and you would be shot," Zeisel said. "So you learned to rule out the future." When she was finally released, she thought the guards were taking her to be executed.

In 1937, Eva was expelled to Vienna, Austria. A few months later the Nazis invaded, and Eva made it onto the last train out which took her to England. Once there, she became reacquainted with her friend Has Zeisel. They married and set sail for the United States.

 Eva Zeisel Prison Memoir







Life in America

A New Beginning

Eva quickly established a career in the United States designing for several well-known companies: Hall China, Rosenthal China, Castleton China, Western Stoneware, Federal Glass, Heisey Glass and Red Wing Pottery. Her mid-century work took on anthropomorphic, abstract forms of the natural world and human relationships. She molded sensual and practical curves creating pieces that nestled such as her mother-and-child salt and pepper shakers. She professed to recapture the "magic language of things."

At the Pratt Institute in New York, she developed and taught the first course for the ceramics industry. In 1946, a one-woman show named "Eva Zeisel: Designer for Industry" was presented at the Museum of Modern Art.

 Eva Zeisel Salt Shakers




The End of a Remarkable Life

Eva took a break from designing during the 1960's and 1970's. She returned to work in the 1980's continuing to work past 100 years of age. As recently as 2010 she released two designs through her website: Eva Zeisel Lounge Chair and Eva Zeisel Salt & Pepper Shakers. It is for her mid-century designs that she is most admired. These vintage pieces are highly collectable and in museums all over the world. 


 Eva Zeisel

Eva Zeisel Forum

Eva Zeisel Originals

Eva Zeisel Forum

Eva Zeisel

Eva Striker Zeisel was a Hungarian-born industrial designer known for her work with ceramics, primarily from the period after she immigrated to the United States. Her forms are often abstractions of the natural world and human ...
Updated: 09/16/2015, BrendaReeves
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


BrendaReeves on 01/14/2014

Thank you. Sorry I'm a little late getting here.

KathleenDuffy on 01/10/2014

Really enjoyed reading this! What an amazing lady! I didn't know about her, so you have added another delightful artist to explore!

BrendaReeves on 08/09/2012

Thank you Mira!

Mira on 08/09/2012

Oh, what a wonderful article!! We gotta have more art on this site ;-). Thank you, BrendaReeves!

BrendaReeves on 08/04/2012

Thank you spirit. I enjoy reading your posts.

spirituality on 08/04/2012

I love those salt and pepper shakers - such a sweet timeless design :)

katiem2 on 02/18/2012

What an inspirational story, thanks for bringing it to us.

happynutritionist on 01/19/2012

Interesting to learn about someone who lived such a full life yet I was not aware of her, it is good of you to share her with us.

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