How Christiane Barbato Followed Her Passion to Create Blue Door Ceramics
When I arrive at Christiane Barbato’s studio she greets me with two cheek kisses and has a big, bright smile that seems to grow even more as she begins to tell the story of how she came to create her now-famous line of signature works.
At 40, Barbato knew she needed a change. To combat what she calls her “mid-life crisis,” she left her corporate job in her native Brazil and returned to what she loved: Arizona and ceramics, having discovered the medium as an exchange student at Chaparral High School.
“Ceramics are fascinating. You can mold it into anything,” says Barbato.
She typically molds clay into custom plates and dishes. And restaurants across the country have taken note, with most of them discovering her creations via her company’s Instagram account. Here in the Valley, Binkley’s, Roka Akor and Bourbon Steak at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess all stock her plates. Why does she think chefs like her work?
“I love to cook. Every ceramics artist that makes plates should know how to cook. It’s kind of a complementary art,” she says. “I also love to see pictures of the beautiful presentations the chefs make on my plates. Just a plate like this, it’s just a plate. It’s just food. If you see the plate with the food on top, it looks amazing.”
However, Barbato didn’t originally set out to create Instagram-ready dishware. When she moved to Arizona in 2006, her plan was to sell imported tiles from Brazil. When that didn’t take off due to the economic downturn, she decided to make plates because she felt her own dishes were boring. One day a neighbor asked her to make them a set, then another did, then another. Seeing how her passion could also be a viable business, she launched an online store in 2009 and started to work on Blue Door Ceramics full time in 2013.
Barbato’s work is influenced by both nature and her Brazilian roots. As the seasons shift, so do the colors she uses to decorate her plates. The fall and winter months mean darker colors, while the summertime sees lighter colored dishes in her kiln. Also expect to find beautiful turquoise plates in honor of Arizona’s state gem, cappuccino colored ones that she says look like the desert’s sands, and aquamarine and emeralds in honor of her home country, Brazil—one of the countries where the stones are mined.
“I love organic shapes too,” she says. “I know how to throw on the potter’s wheel, but my style is more organic.”
Barbato describes her works as happy, “with energy, connected to God and connected to nature” and the studio behind her Phoenix home as a “sanctuary” with good vibes and good thoughts. She hopes others who encounter her work sense her cheerful disposition in them.
”Everyone that buys my plates, they always have something good to say,” says Barbato. “I think about how many lives I’m going to touch with my work.”
See more of Barbato’s works at BlueDoorCeramics.com or email her at Hello@BlueDoorCeramics.com.