Eva Zeisel at the Museum of Modern Art in 1997, with a piece from a porcelain table service introduced in 1946; behind her is a chair she designed.
Eva Zeisel, a ceramic artist whose elegant, eccentric designs for dinnerware in the 1940s and ’50s helped to revolutionize the way Americans set their tables, died on Friday in New City, N.Y. She was 105.
Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Jean Richards.
Ms. Zeisel (pronounced ZY-sel), along with designers like Mary and Russel Wright and Charles and Ray Eames, brought the clean, casual shapes of modernist design into middle-class American homes with furnishings that encouraged a postwar desire for fresh, less formal styles of living.
“Museum,” the porcelain table service that brought Ms. Zeisel national notice, was commissioned by its manufacturer, Castleton China, in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which introduced it in an exhibition in 1946, its first show devoted to a female designer.
Ms. Zeisel’s work, which ultimately spanned nine decades, was at the heart of what the museum promoted as “good design”: domestic objects that were beautiful as well as useful and whose beauty lent pleasure to daily life.
“She brought form to the organicism and elegance and fluidity that we expect of ceramics today, reaching as many people as possible,” said Paola Antonelli, a curator of architecture and design at the museum. “It’s easy to do something stunning that stays in a collector’s cabinet. But her designs reached people at the table, where they gather.”
Born Eva Amalia Striker in Budapest on Nov. 13, 1906, she was the daughter of Laura Polanyi Striker and Alexander Striker. Her father owned a textile factory. Her mother was a historian, feminist and political activist.
Remembering Designer Eva Zeisel–LISTEN
All Things Considered host Melissa Block remembers Eva Zeisel, one of the premier ceramic designers of the last century. She died last week at her New City, N.Y., home at the age of 105.