Ceramic products and their chromatic ‘DNA’ markers

  • Carla Lobo School of Arts and Design, LIDA, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal. CIAUD, Research Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Design, FA/ULisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.
Keywords: Colour, Ceramics, Product Design, Cultural Identity, Local


Originally produced with local raw materials and manufactured by ancestral processes, ceramic products have always been the result of knowledge transmitted from generation to generation. These artefacts reflect and reinterpret traditional, individual and collective formal vocabularies, integrating fragments of the day-to-day life of the local society, which conferred a geographical and sociocultural singularity revealing their local, regional, and national identities.

From intrinsic to extrinsic characteristics, from raw materials to formal language, it is possible to find a plethora of combinatorial markers that characterize and differentiate these ceramic products – in other words, their ‘DNA’. Among such DNA markers, colour has been a geographical and cultural ‘locator’ par excellence of ceramic products: either by the colouration of raw materials, or inks or glazes, or by adopted colour schemes, which reflect not only the local availability of pigments and oxides, but also local preferences and culture. Furthermore, the characteristics of firing, an alchemical process, revealing a myriad of chromatic solutions based on acquired and arcane knowledge, confer a unique character to such ceramic products.

The present globalization era has given way to the emergence of ‘transgenic’ ceramics, uprooted from their origins. Despite the resurgence of the appreciation of local knowledge and traditions as a reaction to this scenario, can we still identify clear references to their origin – ceramic chromatic DNA markers – even if these artefacts are the result of this ‘transgenic mutation’? The study substantiates that colour, as a DNA marker of ceramic products still exists, and is associated to cultural identity.

Author Biography

Carla Lobo, School of Arts and Design, LIDA, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal. CIAUD, Research Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Design, FA/ULisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.

Carla Lobo - Designer, PhD in Design and Master of Colour in Architecture. Professor at ESAD Cr Polytechnic Institute of Leiria (Product Design and Colour), with a professional and academic career based on research, experimentation and practice in the areas of ceramics, product design and colour.

Areas of interest: Colour, Ceramics, Product Design and Public Spaces.


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How to Cite
Lobo, C. (2020) “Ceramic products and their chromatic ‘DNA’ markers”, Cultura e Scienza del Colore - Color Culture and Science, 12(01), pp. 75-81. doi: 10.23738/CCSJ.120109.