Eva Zeisel

Design great Eva Zeisel turned 103 last week. She's an amazing designer and teacher whose life is as extraordinary as her work. Born in Budapest, where she wanted to be a painter, but at the behest of her mother, she apprenticed herself to a traditional potter. Her work took her to Germany and other parts of Europe, then to Russia, where she was swept up in the idealist fervor gripping the country at the time. She became the Artistic Director for the Porcelain and Glass Industries for all of Russia. However, in 1936, she became a victim of one of Stalin's infamous purges. Accused of plotting against his life, she was imprisoned for 16 months, where she was subject to torture, brainwashing, and solitary confinement. One day, she was inexplicably released and put on a train to Austria. She then made her way to England, where she married Hans Zeisel, and in 1938, the couple moved to New York, where they settled permanently. She now lives in upstate New York, and is actively producing new work.

In a TED lecture, Eva Zeisel said that she does not think of herself as a designer, but as "maker of things." I want to be a maker of things when I grow up.

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