Its elegant yet odd shape is beyond any Vietnamese standard of beauty, and its enamel makes each piece look like a work of art. Yet Chi ceramics used to be ignored by general consumers, who were into uniformly shaped and colored pottery. However, as the standard of living increases, the general public finally has time and money to spare for this unique style of ceramic, raising Chi ceramics to the position it deserves.
Just one look at Chi ceramics shows that it is for tasteful people. For there is nothing so tasteful as a simple, clean-lined Chi piece of pottery. While other styles emphasize identicalness, each Chi ceramic’s piece is unique, for there is no second piece that looks exactly the same. Chi’s potters are more artists than ceramists, as everything they create is infused with the emotion creators experience during the time of making. These artists experiment with new material, shapes, and enamel whenever they can, and the result is an array of odd shapes and unique colors.
This feature is also the biggest obstacle that prevents this ceramic line from branching out and mass producing. Time and intense training can make a potter, but cannot create an artist. The shortage of labor limits Chi’s ceramists to the descendants of its founder, Mr. Chi. Of course, experimenting is not without risk, since the price of a creation might be that several batches of ceramics end up in the dumpster. No Chi artist can be sure what a piece of pottery will look like coming out of the kiln, so it is impossible to make one piece that is identical to another. But this is a good thing: everything you purchase from Chi ceramics is one of a kind.
Chi ceramics has chosen a difficult road for itself. It was born in a time when its audience was limited to artists, since the general masses had enough trouble just putting food on the table, and had no interest in art, let alone ceramics. However, thanks to its founding father’s achievements in reviving two long lost techniques, Chi ceramics survived. One of those techniques is restoring Bat Trang bricks, which has stunned the entire ceramic community. These bricks are famous across Vietnam, as they are particularly solid and so impervious that moss cannot grow on them. Mr. Chi succeeded where Bat Trang artisans, the direct descendants of the potters who used to make such bricks, failed. Mr. Chi’s other success lay in finding out the technique used to make the golden and blue roof tiles that are essential to restoring Hue’s Imperial City. Vietnam’s artisans were capable of creating tiles that would resemble the old model’s shape, size, and color, but the tricky part was to find the exact materials and the old method used to make them.
In the Chi ceramics gallery, you can feast your eyes on a stupendous array of pottery, from everyday homewares with some aesthetical twists to porcelain animals and majestic Ly dynasty dragons and phoenixes. All of them free you from the readymade supermarket world where everything is identical and perfect down to every single detail.