Urban Magušar Manufaktura Ceramics

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Urban Magušar became interested in ceramics already as a student at the Secondary School for Design, thanks to Vladimira Bratuž Furlan, his professor in three-dimensional design. After high school he got a job as a theatre sculptor, but was so drawn to pottery that he joined the Komenda Pottery Cooperative as an apprentice. For the next five years he learned from master potter Ivan Kremžar. He went on to learn from foreign ceramic designers and did a lot of research on his own. At the age of 40 he enrolled into the industrial design department at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design to gain a formal education as well. Throughout this time, he was tirelessly exploring clay. In the past he organised pottery fairs in Ljubljana and Radovljica. Now he organises seminars for ceramic experts. And he has a few students as well.

Urban Magušar had eight different workshops in Ljubljana and Radovljica, where he has now settled, having found excellent working conditions there. Magušar’s house features an atrium that houses the living and working areas, a small library with more than 500 books on ceramics, a museum, and storage for clay and other materials.

Urban Magušar had eight different workshops in Ljubljana and Radovljica, where he has now settled, having found excellent working conditions there. Magušar’s house features an atrium that houses the living and working areas, a small library with more than 500 books on ceramics, a museum, and storage for clay and other materials. His son has a workshop in the same house. Opposite the house is his shop, with a demonstration workshop that opens onto the street. He has three employees working in the shop, the workshop and the museum.

Urban Magušar does not make traditional products, but redesigns the tradition that inspires him. He spends more time researching, preparing and planning using computer software than he does on the wheel. The choice of technique depends on the order — small orders are hand-made on the wheel, but he does make models for larger orders. He uses primarily electric and gas-fired kilns to fire his ceramic ware. He has all the technology and laboratory equipment required for his work — extruders, kilns, various potter’s wheels, stencils, sieves, a mill for grinding materials, minerals, glazes.
He imports the materials and working equipment for the shop from abroad, because Slovenian clay is either unavailable or too expensive. In order to help change that he came up with the Catalogue of Slovenian Clay project, in the framework of which 80 clays from different parts of Slovenia were tested in his workshop. The result of the year-and-a-half long project is an exhibition that travels across Slovenia, to be followed by travelling demonstrations of clay excavation on now abandoned sites.
The second stage of the project is an analysis of the visual aspect of traditional pottery forms created from those materials — because “this was design with its own rules, knowledge, technology”, the purpose of which is to help preserve traditional knowledge and skills.

Urban Magušar used to make a great many souvenirs that he sold in Slovenian tourist resorts, and he frequently worked with various designers while also designing his own ceramic ware. He is especially proud of the ceramic cup that was featured at the Biennial of Design (BIO), and he also sees a particular challenge in making replicas.
For the past five years he’s been creating his work according to the rules of Japanese folk art: “It’s easy to learn how to make them. The product itself is informed with a local character. It’s useful and inexpensive, which means it’s affordable to a wide range of users.” His pieces come in small series (plates, so-called Magušar bowls, ceramic flutes, miniature replicas of the houses in Radovljica’s old town and similar) that are sold at Manufaktura.
Urban invests a lot of his time exploring the cultural heritage of pottery, and is in the process of setting up a museum with a permanent exhibition.