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Looking back on decades of mud and dust, Ron Dier tells a story that began 30 years ago, when he walked into the Muddy Fingers ceramics studio in New York.
Curiosity about clay was about to turn his life upside down. Working as a sales rep and designer for a custom carpet manufacturer, Dier had no idea that he was headed for a completely different hemisphere within the world of interior design. All he knew was that he wanted to work with his hands.
What followed was an immersion in the world of earthenware forms, fueled by what can only be described as artistic addiction. Nothing else can explain eight hours a day in floor covering, followed by seven hours a night in clay – for the next three years.
When a prominent interior designer asked if his work in the ceramic studio was ready for prime time, Dier responded with a collection of 14-inch plates and vases, stretching his new found ability to its dimensional edge. Apparently, the student was learning fast, as the works were immediately installed for a Etruscan theme event at the famous Kips Bay show house.
Dier’s inaugural showing proved both exhilarating and terrifying. Within two weeks of his debut, a year’s worth of his accumulated work had vanished, purchased en-masse by an antiques dealer on 3rd avenue who attended the event. The collection was immediately recognized for the pure shape of the vessels and their delicate finish, and Dier was commissioned by the dealer to create an entire line.
With his entire inventory of exploratory works snapped up by a New York marketplace hungry for decorative arts, and incoming orders accumulating, Dier established a small studio and began replenishing his wares. The SoHo loft served as a place where he could satisfy his newfound clientele while also pursuing his fascination with glazes.
Fascination quickly evolved into obsession, and Dier’s first major success came with the creation of a quietly beautiful and classically oriental finish. Subtle as they were, his Asian-inspired creations ultimately generated a great deal of attention. Within a year, the New York Times featured Dier and his work within the home section, devoting the greater portion of a two-page spread to the artist and his Eastern-style ceramics. When Angelo Donghia approached Dier and offered to purchase, not consign, all of the pieces he could muster, there seemed to be no turning back.
So naturally he moved forward, indulging his love for exotic finishes and created a series of tiny, gem-like vases immersed in precious metal. With a more classical Western influence and a glimmering metallic veneer, the new line of vases had the visual elegance required for the international galleries of interior design. As the vases evolved in size and concept, it also appeared that Dier’s signature style and artistic future would be cast in a 22-carat sheen of precious metal.
Dier designs began appearing on the pages of Vogue, Metropolitan Homes, Bon Appetite, and Architectural Digest. The American Crafts Museum featured his works. The Royal Family of Saudi Arabia became a significant client. Viceroy Resorts new Anguilla Hotel has an entire wall in their Coba restaurant dedicated to Dier sculpture. Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton around the world are using Dier sculptures in their lobbies and lighting in their Presidential suites. Ironically, the grand eastern hotels of Tokyo and Singapore now feature ceramics from this Western artisan. Atlantis Resort Dubai installed works by Dier, commissioning a series of hand-thrown pedestal urns, finished in 22-carat gold, and each towering over 7 feet in height.
Ron’s inspirations are wide-ranging and eclectic. From the 1830s farmhouse he once owned in the Berkshires, to an on-going regimen of international travel, he’s constantly exposed to new ideas that keep the gears in a creative mind well oiled. Primitive Aztec pieces, Thai temple jars, Japanese hibachis and classic Greek vases have all made an impact on his constantly evolving collection.
The new decade has brought about many new avenues to express Ron’s creativity. Adding a lighting line, fused glass, mounted mineral & fossils, the Dier Collection is broader than ever.
His migration to Laguna Beach in the mid-90s sparked a renewed energy into his works that coincided with his plunge into the world of orchids. The creation of elegant vessels for the flowers had taken on a delightful new urgency.
The move west coincided with a broader shift in Dier’s life, from artisan to artist. First, there was a one man show at the Studio Arts Gallery displaying glass and ceramic sculpture. This show led to numerous private commissions which culminated in an invitation to a group show at the prestigious Laguna Beach Art Museum.
Art specifiers for the emerging market that is upscale hotels and casinos in Las Vegas took notice. Bellagio, Wynn Encore and now the newly redone Aria all have pieces from Dier on permanent display.
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