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Bret Bortner

black and white headshot of Bret Bortner

United States

If Bret Bortner had to choose a mantra it would be “simplify, simplify, simplify.” Influenced by contemporary Scandinavian and Japanese design, he creates ceramics that are clean and simple with little to no ornamentation. Whether creating a lamp or a bird feeder, Bortner begins with the simplest of forms, tempering pure function with a minimalist yet warm aesthetic.

Bortner’s career as a ceramic artist took off in 1982 when Crate and Barrel placed an order for one of his lamps, initiating a long-lasting relationship with the designer. Initially creating designs out of his garage in Dundee, Illinois, Bortner now lives and works in downtown St. Joseph, Mich. His residence includes two studios: a design studio where he creates his original models in plaster and a ceramic studio for more sculptural, one-of-a-kind pieces.

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