As an interior designer I find it’s vital to think about the smaller details of a scheme and how they relate to the ‘bigger picture’ of the overall space. It’s often what makes the difference and creates a cohesive look. I’m always on the lookout for fantastic and unique products for interiors and there’s nothing I love better than discovering individual designer-makers, craftspeople and artisans that often offer so much more than the high street. In my former life as a designer-maker working with textiles I found myself exhibiting around the UK at many inspiring shows and loved exploring the work of others as much as exhibiting myself! Since then I haven’t stopped (I find it hard to!) and am always on the lookout for exciting designers. Here on the colour + shape blog I’m sharing my insta-friendly top nine picks for various aspects of interiors, from soft furnishings, furniture and accessories to wallpaper, lighting and hard finishes.
First up, my favourite ceramics. I have a huge weakness for ceramics, from vases and vessels to coasters and crockery, both decorative and functional, I just love the variety of shapes, patterns, textures and finishes that are created and instantly cause you to visualise and wonder at the making process. Some of my clients have beautiful collections and I have really enjoyed working these into my designs. Ceramics are often longer lasting than other interior products and are a great leveller, we all need things from which to eat and drink, and they can provide fascinating insight into the social history of both rich and poor as well as encapsulating the styles of the past. So if your interior is in need of some perfect porcelain, earthenware eye-candy, stunning stoneware or gorgeous glazes, here are the super ceramics you need to see...
Sophie Cook's porcelain pods, bottles and teardrops are exceptionally elegant, their beautifully graceful necks stretch up and end in tiny, delicate openings. I love ceramics that seem to have life and these gorgeously organic shapes, finished in contrasting matt and gloss glazes, certainly evoke a sense of movement; the forming of a heavy droplet or a new shoot reaching towards the sun. This sensation is enhanced when grouping the vessels, the subtly changing shapes, (bulbous forms becoming elongated), and colours, (muted hues increasing in vibrancy), create harmonious relationships as your eye flows from piece to piece. The effect is stunning. Sophie is a graduate of Camberwell School of Arts, her ceramics are widely acclaimed and are featured in several permanent collections including that of London's Geffrye Museum. Sophie's work is available via her website and in selected galleries across the UK and further afield.
I came across Ben Barker's beautiful porcelain pieces at The Leach Pottery in St Ives and was instantly attracted by their graphic, black and white striped patterns which accentuate the interesting and unique array of shapes he creates. His bowls, bottles and platters are hand thrown on the potter's wheel and after firing are burnished to achieve a smooth and very on-trend matt finish. The combination of sculptural forms and high contrast circular decorations creates a clean and precise aesthetic and brings to mind neatly cut cross sections, as if revealing the rings of a tree trunk or the layers within a perfectly sliced cake. Ben has been a studio potter for over 40 years and has also taught ceramics and sculpture in schools. In 2014 he established Chy Gywn Pottery near Truro where he makes and sells his work and runs ceramic workshops. Ben's work is available from selected galleries and he will be part of Open Studios Cornwall 2017 from 27th May to 4th June.
Swedish ceramic artist and designer Camilla Engdahl creates the most fantastic interior products. With bold, bright geometric shapes on a rippling, glossy finish her work is incredibly fun yet ultimately functional. Camilla's extensive range includes kitchen and tableware as well as planters and bathroom accessories. In addition, she produces tea towels, oven mittens, cutting boards and coasters that all co-ordinate brilliantly with her beautiful ceramics. The colourful repeats of dots, triangles and stripes certainly have a 1970s retro feel about them, whilst still seeming fresh and contemporary, and their smooth yet subtly undulating surface makes them incredibly tactile. Camilla's Figure Pots are amazingly appealing to children and consist of different shaped little bowls stacked on one another to form curious characters such as Agda the hen, the perfect thing to brighten the breakfast table!
If you fancy investing in the antiques of the future or are just interested in retro styles then take a look at the amazing ceramics created by Hornsea Pottery from the 1950s through to the 1980s. Hornsea was founded in 1949, in the Yorkshire town bearing the name, and produced everything from kitchenware, dinner sets and decorative vases to plant pots, piggy banks and ashtrays. John Clappison (1937-2013) worked as their chief designer from 1958. Using new forms and decorative techniques he was responsible for many iconic ranges, the most recognisable being those from the late 1960s and 1970s such as Heirloom and Saffron, which became bestsellers in the UK during this period. What I love about Hornsea's wares is that they were accessible, designed for the masses, and could be found in almost any home. Even now, you are just as likely to find some Hornsea in the back of your parent's kitchen cupboards as you are in a museum, though some older items are becomingly increasingly in demand on sites such as eBay. Clappison's designs are also a fantastic way to appreciate the changes in interior styles during the post-war decades. His earlier ranges such as Summit, Studiocraft and Springtime seem to perfectly portray the energetic, linear and often playful style of the 1950s and early 1960s, whilst Heirloom and Bronte show the later revival of historical influences, their glazes in deep Victorian hues. Similarly, though produced after Clappison's tenure, the Stripes range captures the simple primary colours and graphic pattern of 1980s postmodern design. Sadly, the company went into receivership in 1984, finally closing in 2000, but its ceramics are wonderfully diverse and collectable pieces of design history. The work of the pottery can be explored further at the Hornsea Museum and there are several related websites detailing the various designs produced, including that of the Hornsea Pottery Collectors and Research Society whose membership have been 'bitten by the Hornsea bug.'
Wow! That's the only reasonable reaction to the fabulous work of ceramic artist Sophie Southgate who creates bespoke, handcrafted objects for the home. Her innovative use of colour and texture, geometric form and negative space results in gorgeously eye-catching pieces. I love enticing sculptural ceramics, and Sophie's perfectly shaped vessels seem like a series of split open pods, immaculately sliced to reveal beautiful faceted jewels inside. These are most definitely on my wish list! Sophie works from her studio in Kent where she also runs workshops and courses for adults. She is part of the Crafts Council's Hothouse 2017 program and will be exhibiting at Ceramic Art London from 31st March to 2nd April.
I love ceramics that contrast gorgeous glazes with the raw, biscuit-like texture of clay and the work of Studio Arhoj does this to perfection. Originally founded in Tokyo by Anders Arhoj, the now Copenhagen based design studio combines traditional Japanese forms with a Scandinavian simplicity and the result is an alluring range of tableware and decorative objects with mottled, dripping, two-tone glazes in a rainbow of both subtle and intense colours. The impression of movement created by the marble-like, tide-mark patterns, flecks and streaks of colour and hard set drips where the glaze melts downwards, brings a sense of dynamism to the simple, functional shapes. Yet where the lava-like flows stop short of the base they are beautifully accentuated by curves of pure, matt clay. You almost imagine the pieces being liberally dipped in vats of ice-cream colour. These sensations are highlighted in the names of the vases, bowls, pen pots and Sip and Slurp cups with Outer Core, Ultramarine Downpour, Niagara Falls and Red Raspberry Sorbet amongst their number. Humour is certainly at play and the endearing, expressive eyes added to the Familia and Ghost objects are just genius! I feel a collection coming on!
'Objects meets Bauhaus' is how Byung Kim, founder of Design K, describes his collection of limited edition geometric inspired tableware, and admiring the precise compositions of basic, block coloured shapes, this certainly seems apt. Their simplicity is wonderfully striking and the way in which the restrained palette is applied to both angular and rounded forms brilliantly highlights their sculptural qualities. Whilst chimney-like cylinders and gleaming white curves bring to mind the International Style architecture of the interwar years, the inclusion of bold black or primary coloured spheres balanced delicately on a thin diagonal evokes a sense of drama and shows the influence of Oskar Schlemmer's 1922 Triadisches Ballet, the theatrical side of Bauhaus, which Byung cites as inspiration. Every table definitely needs some choreographed geometry now doesn't it?
Created at her Clerkenwell studio, Helen Beard's delightfully characterful ceramics are inspired by her surroundings. Her groups of beakers, mugs, jugs and vases tell stories, depicting daily sights and scenes, from London markets to the Cornish coast, sketched in a delicate yet whimsical style. Helen completes bespoke pieces, which are thrown on the potters wheel and hand painted, often with corresponding imagery inside and out, and has been commissioned by clients including Fortnum and Mason and The National Gallery. She also produces her Dailyware range of functional slip-cast pots decorated with lithographically printed ceramic decals. Helen's beautiful work is featured in galleries throughout the UK and internationally.
Nathalie and Christophe Hurtault are the creative force behind Les Guimards, a ceramics workshop originally established by their parents in Burgundy, over forty years ago. I first bought some of their hand-crafted stoneware at the fabulous Darkroom in London and have been a big fan ever since. Created from local sandstone clay their pieces are somehow warm and rustic whilst being simultaneously refined and contemporary. Their beautifully smooth glazes, ranging from muted pastels to sophisticated black and greys, as well as bold citrusy hues, contrast with the earthy matt clay, left bare, often to emphasise the simple yet appealing forms of their assorted tableware and decorative objects. Current UK stockists include Eyespy and Catesbys.