Written by Jessica Graybill
We got a call last week from a woman who was clearing out her uncle’s storage facility and had come across several boxes of pottery, which upon further review proved to be quite a find – vintage Giovanni DeSimone! We were lucky enough to purchase the entire lot, and I’m so excited to tell you we now have an Etsy shop up and running with our newly-acquired vintage pieces! But more on that later…for those of you who can’t wait, click here – but if you want some background on one of our collective favorite collections, read on!
For those unfamiliar with the history behind this fabulous pottery, here’s a quick recap.
Giovanni DeSimone was born in 1930 in Palermo, Italy (Sicily) to a pair of Italian aristocrats. As a young child he traveled to Somalia, and his experiences there clearly stuck with him and inspired his life’s work, which demonstrates an appreciation of primitivism and the cubist movement that was popularized by Picasso, Matisse and Gauguin in the early 1900s.
DeSimone relocated to Emilia-Romagna following WWII (his family had been incarcerated in a concentration camp during said war; yikes), where he then enrolled in famed Istituto d’Arte per la Ceramica in Faenza. It was there he found his life’s calling; pottery became his passion. After completing his studies, he and his family returned to Sicily. Nostalgic for his native land now seen through adult eyes, Giovanni finally felt at home. It is here in Palermo that DeSimone meets the love of his life, Eliana, who eventually becomes his wife. Together they created three beautiful daughters, Susanna, Margherita and Rosita.
The DeSimone ceramics studio began in the 1960s and produced both dinnerware and serving pieces as well as decorative tiles and larger panels. During his most prolific period, there was anywhere from four to six artisans who worked for him and helped with production. The colors and themes were consistent throughout, though each decorator had their own sort of style. Giovanni would typically sign his work “DeSimone” in a location that would be visible without having to turn the piece over.
DeSimone passed away in 1991, but his legacy continues though his daughters Susanna and Margherita, who operate La Fabbrica della Ceramica; still located in Palermo, Sicily. Their work is very much inspired by the creations of their father, and, like his work (and all of the Italian ceramics that we carry!), each are individually handmade and hand painted. His brightly-colored pottery is recognized and sought after by collectors, but the honest accessibility of his work draws in new devotees every day.
Now; back to our fresh vintage finds! I am so excited! We have recently opened up an Etsy shop for them, which are estimated to have been made between the 1970s and 1980s. Because of the age of these pieces, we cannot verify that they are food safe, so these collector’s items should be purchased as only decorative additions to your existing DeSimone collection. Items purchased from our Etsy shop are not for food use (but don’t worry! Anything bought from our regular site is food-safe!).