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All photos by Beatrice della Volpe
“It is not possible to start a new design theme without knowing what already exists.” ~ Raffaella Del Giudice
In ancient Greece, a Pyxis was a curved trinket box used by women to store jewellery, cosmetics, and other personal items. Fast forward a couple of thousand years later, and Pyxis lends its name to a stylish tableware piece created by architect and designer Raffaella Del Giudice for DLISH partner Eleit.it. Unlike the ancient greek Pyxis, this contemporary object is designed to contain a jewel of Italian cuisine—mozzarella.
The Pyxis project was born from the idea to elevate the enjoyment of Campania’s ‘white gold’ buffalo mozzarella from both an aesthetic and functional perspective. To develop the design, Del Giudice first looked to the past, with a particular interest in the history of Greek vase art. The designer tells DLISH, “I believe that it is not possible to start a new design theme without knowing what already exists. Knowing the past is the design method that I have always followed.”
She continues, “I studied Greek vase art not only in books but also by visiting the Archaeological Museum of Paestum and MANN in Naples. I identified the Pyxis for the zoomorphic shape of the lid and for the connection with the female world.”
Function Meets the Female Form
The final design is articulated by smooth curves that evoke archetypal femininity and the original use of the Pyxis. “I wanted the shapes to recall the sinuosity of a female body not only to preserve the connection to the ancient use but also to remember the natural link with the ‘mother', and the source of milk,” explains Del Giudice.
The designer also played with the lid element to create an elegant neck. “The evolution of this object in the history of vascular art occurs through the different versions of the lid. From this was born the intuition to assign a new function to the lid.”
The alluring Pyxis makes an entrance while being carried to the table upside down, with the fresh mozzarella contained inside the large bowl at the bottom. Once at the table, the lid is removed and transformed into a serving dish. The mozzarella is then carefully moved from the bowl to the dish, where the neck of Pyxis functions to drain off the excess milk, leaving your white gold perfect for serving.
The Art of Fire at Real Fabbrica di Capodimonte
To bring Pyxis to life, Eleit.it and Raffaella Del Giudice partnered with the Istituto Raro Caselli-De Sanctis at Real Fabbrica di Capodimonte, a historical institute in Naples dedicated to the preservation of ancient craftsmanship and ceramic art. The institute dates back to 1743 when it was first established by King Carlo of Borbone.
On working with the craftspeople, Del Giudice comments, “The artisans of Capodimonte preserve an ancient knowledge that comes from experience. The objects are produced in an unpredictable time in a precise way: the climate dictates the drying rules before moving on to the oven. Here begins the art of fire.”
Honouring traditional processes, Pyxis is handmade in water-suspended earthenware paste on a model made in plaster on a lathe, fired at 1000°C and finished with a layer of glossy enamel fired at 980°C. The centrepiece-worthy serving dish measures 30x30 cm and was debuted by Eleit.it in three bold hues: white, yellow, and blue.
Experience Pyxis with Eleit.it and DLISH
DLISH was first introduced to Raffaella Del Giudice and Pyxis as part of The DLISH Table tour of Naples and the Amalfi Coast in May. During the special two-day trip curated by Eleit.it and DLISH, we visited the Real Fabbrica di Capodimonte and watched the artisans at work. We also heard firsthand from Pyxis designer Raffaella Del Giudice and were treated to an unforgettable show of fresh buffalo mozzarella with Pyxis at pizzeria Concettina ai Tre Santi.
Discover the Pyxis Mozzarella Dish here, and find out how you can be a part of the next DLISH Table here.