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Earth Wares

By Elizabeth Harper | February 25, 2019 | Articles

Imagine it: smooth sculpted vases, rustic yet impossibly chic tableware, eccentric jewelry and accessories, and artisan goods from Georgia makers. This is East Fork (@‌eastforkpottery), newly opened in Westside Provisions District. And it’s just as lovingly made, brilliantly sourced and maddeningly cool as it sounds. It’s the brainchild of Alex Matisse (great-grandson of Henri Matisse—it runs in the family, apparently), wife Connie Matisse and John Vigeland. And it’s their first shop outside the original Asheville outpost. “East Fork has deep roots in the South,” says Connie. “Opening up a shop in Atlanta seemed like an important next step and natural progression for us. … While we love Asheville, we love an excuse to bust out of our tiny mountain town and get to the big city.”

The Westside store, with interiors courtesy of Shelter Design Studio, is a study in minimalism. “The design for this store was inspired by the spirit of the East Fork brand,” says Karie Reinertson, co-founder and principal designer of Shelter Design Studio. “We wanted to create a space that felt timeless, but rooted in a modern sensibility about a very old craft. … East Fork is inclusive and warm, and we wanted this space to reinforce that.” The result is simple yet inviting—homey even. The walls are plaster; the fabrics earth tones (much like the ceramics themselves); the floors, a warm honey color. There’s even a pendant lamp made from mushrooms. “A connection to nature and natural materials is inherent to a business built on making ceramics,” adds Reinertson, “and we wanted to reflect that in the textures and colors of the store.”

If the interiors are any indication, East Fork’s brand ethos is well-established. Founded in 2009 on an old tobacco farm in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, East Fork embraces tradition with its collections of high-quality unfussy stoneware. Its range of dinnerware, mugs, serving pieces and vases—in colorways such as eggshell, Soapstone, and, new this April, Celery and Big Sky—are on offer at the Atlanta store. “East Fork is unique in the sense that, in addition to selling our line of contemporary ceramic dinnerware, we also sell a wide range of goods from friends and strangers near and far—everything from kitchen goods and apothecary items to Japanese nail clippers and children’s Swedish glockenspiels,” says Connie.

Look out for more Georgia artisans to pop up at East Fork in the near future. For now, though, clothing from Adrienne Antonson’s Thomson-headquartered State the Label and handpainted silk scarves from Lindsey Glass’ Atlanta-based In & Of grace the shelves. “It’s important to us the relationships with regional makers and designers are built organically, with mutual respect and understanding” says Connie, who oversees sourcing. “All of the objects in our shop are there because we truly love them. We use them in our own homes and feel 100 percent confident sharing them with others.” Up next for the Westside store, expect more wood, glass, brass, fiber and copper objects, plus in-store events, such as cooking classes and trunk shows, including Avocet Jewelry March 16 and State the Label March 30.

“The response from locals has been so sweet and validating,” says Connie. “We’re really excited to be here!” That makes two of us.


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