The recent years have seen a resurgence in the handcrafted ceramics industry, with dozens of new makers and talented designers emerging to offer a fresh and innovative approach to the centuries-old craft. We take a closer look at our collection of artisanal brands, to consider their processes in detail.
With a focus on sustainable processes and small-batch production, the handmade ceramics industry remains a small one, vastly populated by independent makers and small studio potteries. This factor is a large element of the charm, establishing the knowledge that each piece has been crafted by someone, using their hands.
Traditional pottery conventions have sought to highlight this handcrafted nature by leaving evidence of the maker's presence. Sometimes in the form of finger marks created by the glazing process, or the ghost of a thumb mark on a handle. However, modern pottery tends to focus on a more minimal style, allowing clean lines and simplicity of form to convey the art of making.
At The Conran Shop, we curate a considered collection of brands and designers, working closely with them to understand their practice and celebrate their exceptional design. Whilst every brand that we work with is completely unique, they are all united by a shared commitment to the art of the process, and the preservation of craft. We explore some of our favourites below.
Working from a studio in Devon, family-run Feldspar's ethos is to create 'objects for life', with a simple yet elegant aesthetic. Inspired by traditional bone china, the studio's collection is crafted both in-house in Devon and by a family pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, via a 'slip-casting' method. An integral part of their practice, Feldspar's aim is to preserve the production technique, which is listed as a critically endangered craft by the Heritage Crafts Association.
The South African ceramic studio Wonki Ware specialises in delicate pieces that retain an organic form. Training employees from disadvantaged backgrounds, the studio has turned a small pottery in George, South Africa into a professional production space, whilst maintaining its commitment to artisanal, handcrafted pieces. Ensuring that every piece soaks up the surrounding atmosphere, the works are crafted from clay dug locally in the Eastern Cape, and left to dry in the sun before firing in the kiln.
Working locally from her London studio, Grace McCarthy specialises in functional tableware, informed by her passion for clay as a raw material and an interest in traditional processes. Combining a modern, minimalist style with ancient gas firing techniques, McCarthy creates a unique and varied range of work that reflects the process from which it comes. McCarthy still forms, glazes and fires every piece herself, upholding a distinctly personal connection between the designer and the user.
Newly introduced at The Conran Shop, memòri is a Moroccan collective producing decorative earthenware pieces by local artisans. Anchored to the land from which it creates its works, the collective upholds the legacy of the Rif region's pottery traditions, particularly that which may have been lost or forgotten. Often decorated with natural pigments using a goat-hair brush, memòri aims to revive a collective memory of craft in response to a modern world of standardisation and disposable culture.
Richard Brendon's Dip Collection is inspired by traditional creamware manufacturing in the UK, and is produced in the historic potteries located in Stoke-on-Trent. Helping to revive the industry, Brendon has established a collection based upon a modern glazing process which delivers a bold and contemporary decorative effect, employing the rich history of the craft in Stoke-on-Trent to inform a new wave of ceramic production in the UK.