Ceramicist Eunbi Cho’s Invisible City of Clay

Inside a small studio located at an armpit intersection conjoining the Los Angeles State Historic Park with one of the city’s most defiantly industrial zones, ceramicist Eunbi Cho has been busy conjuring the skyline of an imaginary city. Piece by piece, the LA ceramicist has diligently composed a cityscape once only mapped by memory, inspired by a 1972 Italian novel about imaginary cities.

A quartet of examples of Cho’s “Made for Play” catalog of geometric ceramics. Cho’s sense of humor adds a colorful veneer to the serious skill required to realize forms intended to be used daily.

Cho has steadily gained the attention of ceramic lovers locally and globally for a body of work characterized by its energetic combinations of colors drawn from traditional Korean textiles intermingled with a bizarro-geometric sensibility in the same vein of Ettore Sottsass.

Under the banner of “made for play”, each of Cho’s pieces operate with a notion of functional, but never without an emphasis upon the “fun”. A “brutalist” pour-over cone dripper inspired by the shapes of water towers, a cleverly executed “bake-n-wake” mug with its own built-in chillum and straw, tasting cups designed to be worn as pendants, a stash box formed into an intentionally cracked egg – it’s an architectural style riding the delicate edge between structure and collapse, function and imagination, sculpture and everyday object.

Cho’s latest efforts have taken a literal turn toward the architectural: a series of sculptures inspired by Italo Calvino’s novel, Invisible Cities. Spellbound by Calvino’s imaginary constructs describing 55 cities as narrated by Venetian explorer Marco Polo to Mongol ruler, Kublai Khan, Cho found inspiration to add a 56th city of ambiguity formed of her own imagination.

“After reading Italo Calvino’s Invisible City in one sitting, I immediately began visualizing my own city – a city visible on the horizon at night, its glow attracting seekers from afar. But upon arrival at the city’s boundaries, they’d discover they’re ‘nowhere’, without an entrance, with nothing to see nor hear.”

“It’s very much like many things in life.”

“I grew up in Seoul, Korea and one of my favorite memories of the city were the thousands of dots of light glowing from the cityscape. I loved staring out after the sunset…it seemed so mysterious and made the world seem so vast. I’ve always wanted to capture this feeling.”

For more examples of Eunbi’s work, visit her website and Instagram.

Gregory Han is the Managing Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at