It’s a love story as dreamy as the artisanal ceramics they create.
“Jesse had found a bowl I made drying on the racks of a New York ceramics studio,” says Julie Progin, one half of the Hong Kong-based design company she founded in 2008 with Jesse McLin. “Its shape and concept were similar to one of his, and so he sought out the maker – and thus we met, and later became partners in life and work.”
Shortly after deciding to design their own dinnerware for their wedding, they happened upon a Song Dynasty plate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which led them to trace its roots and the craftsmen who still created similar work in Jingdezhen, China. “We never left,” says Julie.
With studios in Jingdezhen and Hong Kong’s Chai Wan, the duo has taken the city’s artisanal scene by storm with their ceramic and porcelain creations that span dinnerware, accessories, lighting and various curios for the home, translating historic Chinese aesthetics into contemporary, functional forms.
“Our skills are very complementary,” says Julie, whose background in graphic, product and textile design alongside Jesse, a trained artist, make for the dynamic creative force behind projects the likes of The Night Market restaurants, as well as works that have been selected to show at M+ Museum and various biennales.
“Everyone would love to hear about our disagreements, but truth be told we disagree on very little,” laughs Julie. “Our thoughts are aligned and we always push each other to do better.”
Scroll through the gallery below to discover more of Jesse and Julie's work and unique design journey, in their own words:
"Our name, Latitude 22N, was chosen after a long day discussing the history of Chinese Ceramics and export wares travelling from China to Europe by way of boat and the silk road. We were drawn to this idea of lines connecting famous kilns in Asia to trade ports all over the world, hence the name latitude. 22N marks the origin of our own wares, quite simply it’s the latitude of Hong Kong."
"Our projects generally include significant research into historical Chinese ceramics and aesthetics that are then translated into contemporary, functional items, adding another layer to the classic-contemporary mix."
"Working with The Night Market restaurant in Hong Kong was an amazing start. It gave us wonderful exposure in Hong Kong and abroad and our collection for them is still, to this date, our bestseller. Since, our work has been collected by M+ Museum, we’ve collaborated several times with COS on some unique installations and we’ve been very proud to be selected to show our work in various Biennales and museum shows."
"When we first started, we designed objects with a practical function for our own brand and as consultants to others. But after several years that was not enough. We had a lot more to say about the industry, production, context in which we work in and that’s how we started our new practice Julie & Jesse which has been our main focus in the past year."
"The projects we create under the label Julie & Jesse use function as a pretext for visual discourse and ceramic experiments as a method."
"On a regular day you will find Jesse in the studio, making, researching with the material or producing the work and Julie working on photography, texts, graphics or colour schemes. "
"We have a unique approach to each project, inspired by its cultural, historic and economic context as well as particular resources available at hand. This new work has earned us exhibitions in institutions such as M+ Museum, Design Society, the Triennale Di Milano & Chicago Design Museum and amazing collaborations with brands such as COS."
"We will be exhibiting work during Salone Del Mobile in Milan this coming April. In August and September we have a solo show at the Yingge Ceramic Museum in Taiwan. We’re also working on a new collection but we can’t reveal much more for now.