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The exclusive Vaisselle collection against a red background, featuring a jug, vase, pourer, plate, and butter dish

Tableware With Flair: Meet Vaisselle

As we count down to our new-season collection, we proudly unveil our latest collaboration, this time with the dazzling tableware brand Vaisselle. Launching with a Conran Shop-exclusive collection, founder Léa Zana kindly talks us through it.

1. Hello Léa, welcome to The Conran Shop! Please may you tell us a little about yourself and Vaisselle?

Hello! And thank you so much. I am Léa Zana, the founder of Vaisselle. (Vaisselle is still a one-woman business, so I am pretty much every other role!) I am French and live in North London, where I design all my creations from my home studio. My background actually comes from fashion, as I was a footwear designer for 15 years before creating Vaisselle.

Vaisselle was born in May 2020, during the first lockdown, after two redundancies. I have been obsessed with ceramics since childhood and thought it was the time to try and start something new as the world was going through the most unexpected. I thought everything is crazy now, so I might just let go and do something I am really passionate about.

2. Vaisselle combines French design, Spanish craft, and London roots; how important is this fusion of cultures to you and the brand?

I believe it is more than important; it’s the DNA of the brand. The creative process behind Vaisselle is so personal; everything I design is infused by my life experiences. It turns out I am French, living in London, and have worked many years with Spanish artisans so Vaisselle is the result of those three aspects, and it couldn’t be any other way. Plus, each culture brings something different: being French brings a high sense of aesthetics and the importance of details, Spain brings the traditional techniques, the secular element that makes each piece unique and timeless, and finally, London brings the modernity, the courage, and the fun to mix things that are unexpected.

3. You also champion tradition and sustainability; besides the obvious, is there a particular reason why?

I come from an industry (high street fashion, more particularly) where sustainability is a big issue. Not only from the whole cycle of the garment but also the pre-life of a piece: the oversampling, the multiple pieces shipped from China or India by air, and the fact that none of it is being recycled made me sick. I wanted to do the opposite. I keep the sampling process to a minimum and confirm the production for my collections via photos. Using traditional techniques makes the process intrinsically sustainable: we use local clay, and lead-free paints with natural pigments, and all the pieces are dried in the sun.

4. We’re thrilled to launch Vaisselle at The Conran Shop with an exclusive collection; how did it come to be, and which piece is your favourite?

I have been a huge fan of The Conran Shop for decades, (I actually treated myself to one of your lamps when I got my first promotion), so when the team reached me to discuss the project, I was absolutely over the moon. It was the first time I had designed a unique and exclusive collection for a brand which such a strong identity, so it might have been a challenge. But the team was so lovely, sharing their ideas and being open to mine; it was indeed a collaboration and a really enjoyable one! It also took me to creative places I wouldn’t have explored for my main collection, so it was stimulating.

A close-up shot of the exclusive Vaisselle collection, with an egg cup, butter dish, cake stand, and oil pourer against a red and white backdrop

5. What’s your ideal tablescape?

Loads of colours and flowers! Playing with the different pieces you have in your home and not being afraid of mixing styles, heirlooms and newly buys, layering tablecloths to fit the size of your table. I learned tablescaping from my grandmother; she grew up during the Second World War, so the concept of home and sitting at the table to enjoy a meal with your loved ones and make it count was part of my upbringing. On the other hand, as she grew up during shortages, she taught me to create something incredible with not very much. So it doesn’t matter if you have the complete set of six plates and the perfect ironed tablecloth.

6. And lastly, what do you see for the future of Vaisselle?

I hope to be able to develop more collections and, eventually, new categories of products. But my main focus is on keeping working with artisans and challenging them technically. As they use ancient techniques, they can somehow become restrictive in terms of design. So at the beginning of every season, we spend a lot of time trying new things respecting their savoir-faire. It’s a lot of time, effort, and problem-solving, but it’s so empowering and satisfying. We can push boundaries with passion.

Peruse the exclusive Vaisselle edit today, and be sure to follow the brand on Instagram.

Portrait by Hana Snow