Rino Claessens’ modular furniture experiments with ceramic design

Wallpaper* Future Icons: Rino Claessens turns his love for ceramics into experimental large-scale modules and compositions

Rino Claessens ceramic furniture
Modular bench by Rino Claessens, presented by Galerie Scene Ouverte
(Image credit: Pierre Castignola)

Rino Claessens designs modular ceramic furniture. His work is constructed from basic parts, fired in a small kiln, and then assembled to create bold and impactful forms that shape the spaces they occupy. Using accessible materials and innovative methods to overcome limitations, Claessens has made adaptation a key component to his practice and creativity; fostering a fascination with objects that can be approached in a variety of ways.

Rino Claessens: experimenting with ceramics

Future Icons

A piece from the Modular Ceramics series

(Image credit: Neil Godwin at Future Studios for Wallpaper*)

His current project is Modular Ceramics, a collection of large stoneware made using his unique method  of fabrication. Conceived as a system to increase Claessens’ freedom as a designer, each piece is built  using a different selection from a handful of simple parts, which fit together like ceramic building blocks.  Fired separately, and connected using hidden bolts inside, Claessens can use different combinations of modules to produce unique designs. 

Rino Claessens ceramic furniture

Flexible Formed Table Mirror for Galerie Scene Ouverte

(Image credit: Pierre Castignola)

It’s a system born from limitation, and Claessens’ innate ability to work with the tools at his disposal to  create on a scale far beyond their traditional use. As he explains: 'I was making all these objects that were  essentially the same size as my kiln. So that was really my limit in size… and the type of object that I  could make. So I designed this system of shapes that I can connect and repeat, to make an endless amount  of objects.'

Claessens first studied ceramics at the Design Academy Eindhoven, before taking a placement at the Ceramic University of Arita, Japan; the historic home of the country’s porcelain industry. Working with  materials like kaolin stone, discovered in Japan during the 17th century, Claessens was exposed to all  facets of traditional Japanese porcelain production. 'They cover all the aspects there. They have the  mines, they cultivate the material; all the steps in the process… it’s really refined work.'

Rino Claessens ceramic furniture

Table lamp from the Flexible Formed Collection

(Image credit: Courtesy Rino Claessens)

Whether exhibiting in Parisian galleries, or placing his work in domestic settings, a key component to  Claessens’ current practice is being able to communicate this creativity to his audience. By interacting  with his ceramics and the process of modular thinking, his design encourages people to mentally  deconstruct and recombine the many parts of his furniture, unlocking new ideas and ways to interact with  space. However, whilst producing inspiring work, Claessens is humble about his ambitions. He remains  focused on the practicalities of production, exploring what can be done with his materials, and his  personal journey with ceramic design. 

'I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to just being able to execute my ideas, as close to the idea as  possible. I think that if I can do that, or if I can come close to that, it would be a victory.'


Rino Claessens ceramic furniture

Modular Ceramics series for Galerie Scene Ouverte

(Image credit: Courtesy Gallery Scene Ouverte)

Rino Claessens ceramic furniture

Intersecting Volume Bench in solid walnut designed for Monde Singulier

(Image credit: Pierre Castignola, courtesy Monde Singulier)

Jasper Spires is a contributor to Wallpaper*, writing features exploring modern art and design practices. Having worked for FAD Magazine and a number of leading publications in contemporary culture, he has covered the arts in London and Paris, and regularly interviews curators and creators across Europe. He has also written features on fashion and poetry.