Pottery experts reveal how ceramics can transform your home with subtle designs in soft colours and distinctive, patterned pieces.
With a background in both fashion and homewares, Kim joined Habitat as an accessories buyer in 2010.
- INSPIRATION I travel extensively for work to countries including Vietnam, Thailand, India and Portugal, so I’m always interacting with artists and craftspeople who use a variety of skills, techniques and materials. The travel is inspirational in itself as I’m constantly discovering new ideas and ways of working, but I’ve also stumbled across products in workshops that spark something in my imagination. Last year I found a fantastic piece hidden at the back of a workshop in Vietnam that became the inspiration for our Santiago blue earthenware jug object.
- TRENDS Customers want products that look organic, individual and not mass-produced. It’s important to know a craftsperson has created a piece, whether that’s because it has a hand- finished moulding or has had a reactive (variegated) glaze applied. We’ve made this the focus for the new collection (left), with both tabletop ceramics and vases, and the response has been incredible.
- FAVOURITE The Stria vases are my favourite because they are so simple in design but make such impact through their strong colours and the softness of their matt finish. In contrast I also love the new Cadiz ceramic planters on which we’ve used a reactive glaze on a stripe pattern. It’s created an unusual look and something completely unique.
- TIP Don’t be afraid to use ceramic vases as objects. Mix heights, finishes and textures to create real standout points of interest. At home my shelves are filled with collections of ceramics and I’m planning to install open shelving in my kitchen this year to display stacks of crockery and glassware. You can change the feel of a room just by moving ceramics around – plus it’s an immediate talking point at dinner parties!
After studying ceramics and working at Wedgwood, Laura joined Sainsbury’s as a cook shop designer two years ago.
- INSPIRATION I’m a massive fan of vintage china and retro homewares, and find inspiration from many eras, from classic to contemporary. An idea can come from anywhere. Art galleries, vintage fairs, travelling, eating out and, of course, food trends both in the UK and further afield, prompt thoughts about new product ranges. I’m also influenced by the people around me. Working with other designers from different backgrounds is really important to me as we bounce ideas off each other. I love all ceramics and have eclectic tastes, so I really like combining modern simplicity with pieces that may be more treasured and nostalgic.
- TRENDS People want to mix and match and refresh their homes easily without replacing everything, so we’ve become more flexible with our ranges by creating trend-driven pieces that can be combined with existing collections. Bright patterns look fabulous when they’re mixed with clean white surfaces. A good example of this is the lemon-print ceramics (left) from our Country Fair range, or the Aqua range (above) as the patterned pieces can be mixed in with plain dinnerware to create a rustic, summer display.
- FAVOURITE This season it has to be the Monochrome range, as it’s quite different from anything we’ve done before. I love the subtle textures and the combination of patterns. The serving pieces can easily be layered with white dinnerware to create a contemporary, stylish look.
- TIP Mixing classic collections with trend and statement pieces is a great way to bring a fresh new look to your tabletop or your entire kitchen, and it’s budget friendly. You’ll be creating an eclectic look that can be updated regularly simply by dropping in new pieces and combining colour, texture and pattern.
Gorgeous enough to be kept out on display, the pottery made by Susie Watson Designs is testament to Susie’s belief that art should not be confined to the walls.
- INSPIRATION I have an obsessive love of the countryside, seaside and the English garden. The colours and flowers are my main inspiration. In nature, colours never seem to clash and I try and replicate this in my ranges. My pottery was also originally inspired by old Cornishware. I have always loved the texture of the clay spots and the simplicity of the design.
- TRENDS I think people have become less formal and come round to the idea of mixing and matching different designs and colours. I find the prospect of a whole set of one pattern pretty dull.
- FAVOURITE I really like our Honey Bees design. From day one, I just fancied all the stripes. It looked a bit like a beehive so I added the bees and a few simple hearts for good measure.
- TIP When setting the table with china for a formal occasion or a special lunch, limit yourself to just two patterns. I think it looks nicer and less busy if the main plates and sideplates all match.
It’s 30 years since Emma set up her pottery company, which has made millions of mugs, plates, bowls and cups and saucers. She’s now branching out into textiles and wallpaper.
- INSPIRATION Real life and real places, from my husband Matthew’s vegetable garden to the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Architecture in Oxford. The Black Toast design came about after meeting a lady in New York called Mrs Mottahedeh who gaveme a plate sold in aid of the suffragette movement emblazoned with the slogan ‘Votes for Women’. It made me realise how powerful writing on pottery can be.
- TRENDS I’m not sure how much we are led by fashions, as I think our early designs still feel recognisably like what we would do today. For example, the Fig platter I designed in 1987 is still in our collection. The biggest recent success has been the Shellfish pattern (below) decorated with Matthew’s watercolours of crabs and lobsters. Watch this space for more fish to follow.
- FAVOURITE Our new cup shape is inspired by a Victorian cup of my mum’s that had lost its handle. It has a lovely fine quality to it that makes it feel light and nice to use.
- TIP Juxtapose unexpected patterns – a kitsch plate depicting Marilyn Monroe alongside a 19th-century pink lustre cup and saucer, for example. If you love the components it’s never hard to make them work together.