Updatee: Gainey closed in 2013. See this short story in the LA Times.
I will keep this story up for historical purposes.
The folks at Gainey Ceramics saw that I mentioned their planters a while back, and emailed me that they have a new website, including online sales, and a new “Modern” line. They mentioned their “Vintage” pieces, too, so you know I jumped on that question. Yes: Iconic Gainey Ceramics “Cylinder” planters like the two orange beauties above, which were designed by Steve Gainey in the 1960s, are still available. Stephanie, who wrote me, also confirmed that Gainey Ceramics will be bringing more vintage molds out of their vault — watch next for the “Olla” design. These planters are Perfect for mid century homes, inside and out, and they come in multitude of sizes and colors, for tremendous design flexibility. In fact, just this week DH was talking about how he needed some new planters — Father’s Day is coming soon — a match!
You wrote in one of your blog posts a while back about discovering our line of “handcrafted” ceramics. Gainey has been creating California ceramics for over 60 years and is a third generation owned company. We just updated our website to better reflect our vintage history and feature our new “Gainey Modern” collection which is on display at the American Museum of Ceramic Art. We also just opened an online retail store, where Gainey fans can now purchase Gainey Modern as well as some Gainey Vintage pieces with designs dating back to the 1950s.
… I have attached above a couple of different photos in regards to our Vintage Gainey pieces currently featured in our new web store. The pictures are of our mixing bowls, which were originally designed and marketed back in the 1950’s by Steve Gainey’s grandfather and father.
I have also attached a couple of photos of our iconic cylinder, which is the favorite of our mid-century following and a trademark Gainey piece to collectors. This piece was originally designed and introduced to the market in the early 1960’s by Steve’s Grandfather and father as the C series. As market demand and needs altered in the 70’s, Steve tweaked the design a bit and it became the AC (Cylinder) series, which up until today continues to be our number one selling ceramic piece.
As part of our launch of our new web store, we are offering two new colors that are inspired specifically by our cult following of the 60s & 70s — the Aqua and Avocado.
We intend on continuing to not only design new pieces with our trademark clean, modern edge, but we also will be resurrecting more of our Vintage designs from our mold vault. In fact, we do intend to make available shortly our Olla, which was the first design and product that Gainey Ceramics really brought to market and established us as a player in the California Ceramic’s marketplace. The [photo above] is an early photo of Steve Gainey’s grandfather standing by Ollas from when the factory first began production. At this point, we are still intending on featuring the Ollas through our website and have resurrected the mold, but we are still a bit away from that happening at this point. We need to still source the spout as well as a wooden stand to offer a complete product.
I believe we are the last original, continually functioning, family-owned factory. The couple other smaller factories are ones that the designs were purchased by outside entities after the closure earlier years and brought back to market.
I also asked Stephanie to explain Gainey’s view of the current market, especially for vintage-inspired products like theirs. She answered:
Lastly, in regards to your question of our view of the market and how we are looking to situate ourselves, our belief is that Gainey Ceramics has become very unique in that we are the last remaining factory truly dating back to the historic 1940-60s period of California Handcrafted ceramics. Most of our current contemporaries that your audience may know like Bauer, Architectural Pottery, Heath, are now owned by outside entities that purchased the designs/name and continue to supply the market. Gainey Ceramics is the only factory from that time period that we are aware of that still is owned by the original family and has continually been operating from our opening in 1949. Though we have spent many millions of dollars updating certain aspects of our facility to allow us to become more efficient and environmentally friendly, we continue to incorporate and utilize machinery and old world craftsmanship in some cases dating back well over 100 years. In fact, some of our current craftsmen have been with Gainey Ceramics for over 40+ years producing our ceramics and will be difficult to replace in that this is increasingly become an extinct art in America. I believe we are the melding of the two worlds in that Gainey Ceramics is historically important within our ceramic realm and yet appeals because of our design sense to a very modern clientele. Basically, Gainey Ceramics incorporates the beauty of old world craftsmanship with a clean, modern design and our current offerings show both those aspects.
Thank you, Stephanie — good pitch! And seriously, DH is getting a planter in June, you solved a big problem!