>>The very artistry & craft of ceramic design is a fine art within itself. Such an intricate and delicate process of manufacturing and construction which forms a tradition part of the British heritage. Last week in my photo-essay I told the unique and personal story of the manufacturing process of Richard Brendon depicting luxury in its raw and yet beautiful state. Ever the intrigued writer & designer I wanted to dig a little deeper and truly discover not just the inspiration but the ideology behind Brendon’s work. 2015 has seen little tremors of excitement in the design industry in particular with the government ever pledging to invest in our creative plights and the creation of the Creative Industries Federation. But how will these developments transpose themselves into the actual working practices of the likes of the Brendon brand. Richard popped by the studio in an exclusive interview to tell us more about his career and about the industry…
Q. One of my favourite collections is ‘Reflection’. With such a strong narrative I like the idea of displaced orphan antique plates being ‘re-homed’ within this collection. This is such a great concept. How did your experience at university support you in reaching your career goals?
A. I studied Product and Furniture Design at Kingston university. It was a particularly good course which pushed us to learn about quality of materials and manufacturing processes. They encouraged us to consider the narrative behind objects and why things are made the way they are. I think this way of thinking comes through particularly strongly in the Reflect collection, as well as in all of my collections in different ways. I am passionate about British craftsmanship and helping to regenerate our wonderful British heritage industries by fully understanding the materials. My university course certainly equipped me with the thought processes to go about doing this.
Q. Longevity is one of the DNA elements within your brand. How do you think the government or legislation could do more to make ‘longevity’ within the industry much easier to achieve for designers?
A. In terms of the ceramic industry ,the government could do more to support manufacturers in Stoke on Trent. For example, promoting and incentivising apprenticeships will make sure the manufacturing skills that have been developed over hundreds of years are not lost.
Q. You have a small team which I’m sure assists in building that ‘family’ identity. As a team how do you all work together & bounce ideas off each other?
A. We each have our strengths in different areas allowing us to all contribute in different ways. We have all studied design and therefore we all have creative input in the brand, however we all have different skill sets, allowing us to each focus on what we are best at – this makes us a very effective team.
Q. Being such a close-knit team do you find that this plays a key part in the decision making process? And also when recruiting new team members?
A. Yes it plays a key part of the decision-making process as we all discuss ideas with each other and work together on all of the projects that we undertake. In this way each of us has a role in each project that we are working on, and this is a great asset to the progression of the brand.
Q. What’s next for the ceramics industry in terms of trends, direction & manufacturing?
A. It is an encouraging time for the British bone china industry with a number of emerging British designers working with manufacturers in Stoke on Trent, producing new and interesting products. One of the factories that we have been working with has moved to a much larger location and are investing heavily in modern equipment, which will help them to produce even better quality bone china on a larger scale. In the high end ceramic market there is a trend towards more contemporary designs, and overly ornate formal dinner services are seen to be less fashionable.
Q. Tell us more about your involvement with the V&A Museum this year?
A. The V&A contacted me because they were interested in my work and they are doing an exhibition on blue and white British ceramics. In this exhibition they will be showcasing blue and white pieces from the Reflect collection, as well as pieces from the Details from Willow collection.
Q. If you could create a collection for anyone who would it be & why?
A. I would love to design a collection for Claridge’s, because they are the pinnacle of British service and require tableware of the highest standard. It would be a tremendous honour to design a collection for them.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Richard Brendon