Anyone who ever enjoyed a meal at Momofuku Ko, Gramercy Tavern, Aquavit, Dirty Candy, Dig Inn, Westbourne, Fausto, Llama Inn, or Gem ate off a plate or out of a bowl made by Brooklyn-based ceramicist Wynne Noble.
Yesterday, her company, Noble Plateware, announced via Instagram that the artist died after a short illness.
Noble’s fascination with pottery began when she watched a demonstration at sleepaway camp as a child. “I was taken,” she said in a 2016 video interview with Eater. “That’s magic. I want to do that magic.” In the 1980s, Noble opened her first standalone studio in Dumbo, Brooklyn, at 135 Plymouth Street, where she focused on sculpture and taught classes. As the neighborhood became more expensive and exclusive, Noble managed to hold on by creating custom ceramics first for retailers like Barneys and Bendel, and later for restaurants, starting with pizza spot Ignazio’s in 2009.
In the ensuing years, Noble’s functional rather than precious pottery attracted the attention of big-name chefs looking to serve their dishes on handmade tableware and do so with a willing collaborator. Those clients included the team at tasting menu restaurant Contra, which tapped Noble to make all their dishware in 2013. “Wynne Noble was one of the first people to ever believe in us,” co-owner Fabian Von Hauske wrote in a remembrance shared yesterday. “When we didn’t have much money for Contra’s opening she helped us out by selling us some of her amazing work for almost nothing. Without her I don’t even know what Contra would be.”
Eventually, Noble’s reputation grew outside the tri-state area and she and her team were asked to create plateware for restaurants in Georgia, California, South Carolina, Arizona, and Minnesota as well as a few in Canada, France, and Japan. Accordingly, Noble and her team opened a larger studio in Gowanus to accommodate all the orders. On occasion, Noble would welcome members of the public to tour the studio and purchase her restaurant-quality plateware for their own homes.
“She leaves behind a legacy of her artistic practice that has spanned over forty years, eventually growing it into the powerhouse pottery business that exists today,” reads the post announcing her death. “Her team, who she referred to as The G.O.A.T., Greatest of All Time, is committed to following Wynne’s vision and upholding her moral and artistic integrity in the next phase at Noble Plateware.” A memorial service to celebrate Noble’s life will be held in August.