In the new KPM Berlin & SZ Magazine Edition, the French artist Benoît François humorously confuses our established habits and associated expectations. Almost like a porcelain shell game, he supposedly swaps things around in his own mischievous way, which then finds the right place in the secret place of the shakers - or doesn't it?

Benoît François visits the factory

As a space for creative collaboration between the capital's manufactory and young, contemporary artists and designers, KPM Berlin has already proven several times with KPM+ that traditional craftsmanship and contemporary art overcome borders together. After spectacular looks outside the box with international creatives such as Stefan Marx, Mark Braun, Jean Jullien, FAILE Art New York, Zeloot and Andy Rementer, KPM Berlin and SZ Magazine were able to win another artist for a unique collaboration this year: Benoît François. With the one for the French artist

Benoît François' well-known humorous wink, KPM Berlin and the Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin are launching a limited KPM+ edition of the salt and pepper shaker set from the LAB collection.

Benoît François is a French, multidisciplinary artist. Porcelain was always on the list of materials he wanted to design. In addition to classic illustrations, he also deals with fine art as well as animations and installations. He recently made a video animation for Hermès to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

With a sure stroke of his pen, Benoît François tried his hand at porcelain for the first time. The limited edition is produced using the printing process.

In autumn 2019, KPM Berlin chief designer Thomas Wenzel expanded the LAB series with a set of minimalist, functional salt and pepper shakers. The rounded surface made of smooth glazed porcelain and the artificial cork closure once again create an appealing, tactile experience. The aesthetics are also convincing and transport the history of KPM Berlin's laboratory porcelain into the modern kitchen.


As a multidisciplinary artist, your work has a diverse spectrum and, above all, a poetic perspective shapes your works. What themes can be found in your work?

François: I like to build bridges between spheres that don't normally cross. How can "Nail Art" enter into an exemplary dialogue with Emil Cioran's philosophy? I don't know, but if you find something in common, something interesting could emerge. I like creating that kind of tension.

There is also a large portion of humor in your creations. How would you describe your style of humor?

François: I think that I try to connect themes in an unexpected and naive way.

Whether animation, installation or drawing, the creative processes can be so different. How is it with you? Do you work analogue or are your works created digitally?

François: It's comparable to a ball on a squash court. Lots of rebounds until he either scores or falls to the floor and has to be brought back into the game. Mainly analogue, but the images are often digitized at some point using a computer.

With the KPM+ format, we have institutionalized a kind of docking station for the creative dialogue between traditional crafts and contemporary art. Together with the SZ magazine, this approach was continued between you and us. How did the idea for designing the salt and pepper shakers come about?

François: I like the salt and pepper set and that it's a bit difficult to distinguish one shaker from the other. With the statements written on it, this doubt is multiplied and it becomes almost a "skeptical" domestic work of art that can be displayed on any kitchen table. This means that the set can be used in many different ways and has a different “meaning” each time.

For the upcoming edition, “Not Salt” and “Not Pepper” will be printed on the porcelain using a printing process. During your visit to our factory you could also try out painting the two shakers directly with hand-mixed paint. Was it a big difference from your usual way of working? Was there anything unexpected?

François: I often work with pens because then I can use a special ink that is more archival than your average pen. So I'm used to working with a pen, but on the porcelain and on a curved surface it makes things difficult, you can't really write quickly. But I love how it then melts into the white porcelain. And it is, in my opinion, one of the most long-lasting ways to keep a drawing.

Encounter at eye level! KPM+ artist Stefan Marx looks over Benoit's shoulder at work and shares his expertise.

While you were painting, Stefan Marx, who has already designed several porcelain art objects for KPM Berlin, visited you. Could he give you a few pointers, since Stefan now even has his own place in painting with us?

François: I had to concentrate very hard not to break a feather, but after I visited Stefan and his nice colleagues in the KPM painting department, they showed me a lot of cool Stefan pieces and also more classic KPM objects, all hand-painted, of classic multi-colored flowers to more modern Enzo Mari patterns.

What projects do you have coming up in the near future? Could you also imagine designing another piece of porcelain? What would it be?

François: I am working on more projects for the fashion brand Hermès and am preparing a series of sculptures. I would be very interested in creating a series of drawings using thermosensitive glazing on porcelain objects such as tea or coffee sets. Some drawings that only appear when you pour some hot water on them. I would design studies of hot drinks over the centuries, hiding mischievous, humorous details, like a porcelain puzzle...

More about Benoît François on his website and on Instagram .

Images: Benjamin Zibner