If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at recreating a Bacchanalia-style meal at home, you can be one step closer thanks to the opening of East Fork in Westside Provisions District. It’s the brand’s first outside its hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.
The brand was founded in 2009 by Alex Matisse (the great-grandson of artist Henri Matisse), his wife Connie, and potter John Vigeland. The trio pooled their resources to build a wood-burning kiln on an old tobacco farm 30 minutes outside of Asheville and began making large-scale pottery. In 2016, East Fork began making the plates, bowls, and serving pieces that have become their signature. That same year, they opened their flagship store in downtown Asheville, adding in a curated mix of other artisan-made home goods, jewelry, and apothecary items.
Opening a second storefront in Atlanta seemed a natural next step, explained brand manager Erin Hawley just moments before opening the doors to the public on December 21. “Atlanta has always been an inspirational city for us. It’s such a cultural hub of the South. We always come here to eat great food and find great shopping,” she said. “Asheville is coming up in a lot of ways, but Atlanta’s always a city we’ve looked to for inspiration. We also have a pretty big customer base here already, so it’s been a smooth transition.”
Since the stoneware items are made to be durable—all are microwave, dishwasher, and oven safe—East Fork has developed a loyal fan base with restaurants, including Atlanta’s Bacchanalia. The handmade pieces are crafted by one of 18 potters working in the North Carolina factory and are made with iron-rich clay which produces a speckled effect. The dinnerware pieces are regularly offered in Eggshell (a soft natural white), Morel (taupe) and Molasses (chocolate brown), in addition to other seasonal offerings, all designed to work in harmony with the other colors.
“Our colors are neutral, and even when we do brighter colors, they’re still soft in a way that can live in your home for a long time so you wouldn’t tire of them,” Hawley said, noting that the vignettes set up in varying degrees of formality and in different color combinations around the store are designed to inspire customers.
Visitors to the 1,700-square-foot WSP shop will notice that, while artisan-made goods are an East Fork signature, most of them are made in North Carolina (plus a few from California, Texas, Japan, and New York), there’s hardly any Georgia representation just yet. It’s coming, though. “As we know the city more, we want to do some Atlanta collaborations and carry products made here,” Hawley explained. Notable exceptions include select apparel items from Tomson, Georgia’s State The Label, and hand-dyed silk scarves by Atlanta-based Lindsey Glass, under her brand name IN & OF. Glass will also serve as East Fork Atlanta’s store manager.
Shoppers can peruse wares in the bright, neutral retail space, designed in collaboration with North Carolina-based Shelter Collective. Aside from the pottery pieces, standouts include hand-hewn baskets by Dan Barber, a former boatmaker from Oregon; textiles from Garza Marfa in Marfa, Texas; and flatware from Japan’s Lue Brass.