A white ceramic lamp on a wood table.
Photo: Maxime Poiblanc

An Elegantly Imperfect Table Lamp, Translated From Cardboard to Clay

Giancarlo Valle and Natalie Weinberger joined forces to create the glazed stoneware Plateau table lamp.
By Aileen Kwun
April 24, 2021
2 minute read

Giancarlo Valle, a celebrated New York–based interiors and furniture designer with an artful, worldly eye informed by his upbringing in Guatemala City, Caracas, San Francisco, and Chicago, has produced plenty of sculptural products in his career. Plush, velvet-upholstered armchairs, brass sconces, and wooden side tables and chairs have all become part of his language of understated, comfort-forward luxury. His latest release, the Plateau table lamp, created with self-taught Brooklyn ceramicist Natalie Weinberger, leans into that sensibility with a more craft-centered approach.

While the two creatives have collaborated on projects before, the making of the stoneware fixture followed a particularly organic and tactile process. “He came to me with a rough sketch that he had quickly mocked up in cardboard, using duct tape and old boxes he had lying around his studio,” Weinberger says of Valle’s elegantly imperfect, hand-wrought model for the lamp. “I fell in love with the form, but also with the spirit of the folded board itself. There was something very casual and gestural about the quickly folded board that resonated with me.” Transposing cardboard to clay is not an easily achieved feat; bends, folds, and rigidity are famously difficult to render from a soft, pliable earthen mass that can risk warping under its own structural weight in the initial drying stages. But Weinberger was up for the challenge, and Valle, as a result of working with clay, embraced the inherent element of variation that would follow. “To me, there is an unpredictability about the process that gives you a different result each time,” he says. Through a combination of handmade plaster molds and manual touch-ups, each form is then glazed, twice-fired, and wired to its completed form.

“With every project we work on together, he’s learning more about the possibilities and restrictions of clay and glaze, and I’m pushed to tackle technical hurdles outside of my comfort zone,” Weinberger says. “Coming together, we’re truly able to achieve something neither could make alone.”