Creating ceramics in coastal Carpinteria may seem like a shift from his former life in Milan as a fashion designer, but for Italian artist Miri Mara, it was a natural progression. Since setting up shop in California in 2002, Mara has built a reputation for his refined bowls, table lamps, pendant lights and vessels with names like Firenze, Padova, Como and Amalfi that blur the line between a work of art and a functional object. It’s clear he’s not left his heritage too far behind but has also found a way to merge traditional techniques with a contemporary sensibility. Every creation is part of a small production, cast by hand. The process begins with a clay slab, from which he hand-builds a model before creating a plaster mold. Each piece is then slipcast and later hand-finished with a carved textural design. An application of glaze, layer by layer, often creates a further patterned effect. Elegant, artful and coveted, each piece stands out on its own or looks balanced when included in part of a set.