Alex Marshall Studios
Alex Marshall Studios designs and produces a full line of handmade ceramics in Northern California by husband and wife team, Andrew Barry and Alex Marshall, including dinnerware, entertaining accessories & more. Alex Marshall Studios brings to the forefront the unpredictable nature of working with clay by embracing the imperfections made solely by the human hand. Alex’s touch influences every piece; from shaping to firing and glazing, each step is an opportunity to create slight nuances. This makes for products that are as individual as the people using them.
ABOUT ALEX MARSHALL STUDIOS
There’s something personal about Alex Marshall Studios’ ceramics. Perhaps it's the unique variations in the glaze or the way the pieces fit perfectly in the hand. Maybe it’s the minimal asymmetrical forms, but there exists an intimate comfort that accompanies the designs, making life a little more luxurious.
Alex Marshall Studios started in 2000 when Alex made her hand-formed plates, bowls, platters and vases as gifts for friends and family. Word of mouth spread and soon Alex’s original shapes and trademark glazes were in demand. Alex Marshall Studios was born. In 2003, Alex’s husband, Andrew Barry, joined her studio and with his project management background they were able to combine their skill sets to grow the studio. In 2005, Alex Marshall Studios moved to an olive orchard in Corning, California where they currently design and manufacture from a studio on their property.
Alex Marshall Studios’ ceramics are available in a variety of nature-inspired colors and forms. From intense oxblood to vibrant green, calming aqua or simple white, the line includes versatile pieces appropriate for any setting. Platters, bowls and plates compliment food yet also work as sculptural statements. Vases work with flowers and plants or as serving pieces for your favorite side dishes. It’s this modularity that continues to excite the senses with each and every use of an Alex Marshall Studios design.
For Alex, her work is not just about creating a product, but also an exploration into conceptual ideas. One of her favorite themes is the notion of one in many, repeating the same form over and over but with varying results. Alex’s touch influences every piece. From shaping to glazing to firing each step is an opportunity to create slight nuances. This makes for products that are as individual as the people using them. All of Alex’s pieces mold comfortably to the human hand, literally connecting the artist to the collector.
Alex Marshall Studios also adheres to the "Longevity is Green" school of thought. As a design company, they're encouraged by the increasing number of smart solutions to improve the planet. Not all of their designs fit into every category of ecological perfection, but there is one aspect of "green" that's true for everything Alex Marshall Studios produce: longevity. When something is made to last, you don't have to buy it again, which decreases the impact on natural resources and keeps waste out of landfills. In addition, all ceramics and glazes are made in northern California, which means less fuel consumption and production consumption.
Alex grew up in New Jersey where her family instilled in her an appreciation for modern art and design. On Sundays, her grandmother would take Alex to New York City to visit the galleries and shops in SoHo. Her Grandmother’s enthusiasm for contemporary art was contagious –– as Alex says, “she loved it so much, it was hard not to love it along with her.” The family house was filled with modern art and furniture; the idea that one be allowed to hold and touch something yet value it as art was instilled at a very young age.
In the late-1980’s during high school, Alex started taking photography and painting classes. Her first attempt at ceramics occurred during her freshman year at college. Within the first semester she had dropped the class and within the first year had dropped out of college. In 1991, Alex moved to New York City to live with her sister, rented a painting studio in SoHo, got a job in retail and tried her hand at ceramics again. This time at Parsons School of Design. Life in New York City brought back memories with her grandmother and it was to her she turned to for advice. Bubba Ida introduced Alex to the ceramic artist, Toshiko Takaezu who showed Alex that working with clay is making art.
On Toshiko’s recommendation Alex applied to the summer ceramics program at Skidmore College, a small liberal arts college in upstate New York. By the following fall, Alex was enrolled as an advanced student in both ceramics and painting. In 1995, Alex’s independent study project, converted from an introductory 3-D class, won best of show for the annual student exhibition. By graduation, Alex developed an interest in conceptual site-specific installations and entered the graduate program at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she completed her Master of Fine Arts degree in 1997.
Upon graduating, Alex moved to Marin county in the San Francisco Bay Area, got a job in retail, rented studio space and headed into the art world. “I struggled for the next 2 years,” says Alex, “After 5 years of conceptual art, I was done. My passion for it had dried up but my passion for ceramics was always there. Regardless of what was happening for me, I could always go back to the studio, sculpt with clay and detach.” In 2000, Alex began selling the ceramics she designed as an undergraduate, refined in her master’s program and fully embraced after completing her schooling. The circle had been closed and Alex Marshall Studios was born.
For Alex, Alex Marshall Studios is not just about creating product, but also an exploration into conceptual ideas. One of her favorite themes is the notion of one in many, repeating the same form over and over but with varying results. Alex’s touch influences every piece. From shaping to firing and glazing each step is an opportunity to create slight nuances. This makes for products that are as individual as the people using them. All of Alex’s ceramics mold comfortably to the human hand, literally connecting the artist to the collector.
Alex Marshall Studios started in Sausalito, California in 2000. In 2005, Alex Marshall and her business partner and husband, Andrew Barry, moved Alex Marshall Studios to an olive orchard in Corning, California. Situated in the northern central valley of California, Corning is known as the olive capital of California. Their orchard has over 600 olive trees and is surrounded by other olive orchards and grazing lands. The design duo like to joke that they have more cows and horses as neighbors than people. Besides the olive trees, their property also has plum, pomegranate, lemon, grapefruit and mandarin orange trees.
Since moving to the orchard, Alex and Andrew have embraced the concept of California living and have added a pool, an outdoor shower and a fire pit to their already expansive concept of indoor/outdoor living. This nature inspired lifestyle is evident in their latest designs. From the earth-tone glazes that are layered on top of each other. Which are created by a hand-glazing technique that embraces the inconsistencies of the human hand. To the ripple vases, bowls, platters and lamps that undulate like waves in a pool. California living can be seen in all Alex Marshall Studios’ designs.
A green environment is also evident in their production facility. Lead and Cadmium free glaze and clay materials are sourced from California mines as much as possible reducing fuel consumption. A rooftop solar array was installed in 2014 to offset approximately 40% of their electrical consumption.