Recenty I was invited to Sophie Conran for Portmeirion’s 10th anniversary celebration. Now I will confess to being a fan of the collection and have several items in my cupboards already. Being the curious sort I wanted to learn a little more. What I hadn’t realised was that each original piece is hand thrown on a potters wheel, shaped, and fired before any decision is taken on final designs.
Once the design is right, the original pieces are used to make casts for the porcelain from which the finished collection is made. The result is a range that feels handmade yet has all the advantages of larger production.
Sophie has kindly shared a little more about her design and products with us.
Firstly, congratulations on the 10th anniversary of your collection for Portmeirion. For those who may be unfamiliar with your work please tell them about what you do…
I work alongside Julian Teed who is the Creative Director at Portmeirion and Kevin Bridges who is Portmeirion’s Master Potter and we create a range of tableware. It starts of with Julian and I working the shapes and designs and then the samples are hand-thrown. The samples then get sent to the factory to be made into moulds. I have been lucky enough to be working alongside them for 10 years and the collection encompases ceramics and glass and has around 200 pieces that are sold world-wide. The pieces are aesthetically pure and tactile and are exceptionally practical with the capability to go from freezer to oven to table to dishwasher, and all are microwave safe.
What inspires you?
I am influenced by my love of antique ceramics (I particularly love jugs and have quite a collection!) and also Asian ceramic craftsmanship – they are the best.
Do you have a favourite part of the creative process?
I love sitting down in my kitchen with Julian with a cup of tea and a blank sheet of paper – that is when the magic happens!
Do you have a favourite piece?
I think the butter dish is fantastic as it is so quirky, but really it has to be the dinner plate. It is the back bone of the range and whilst being so simple it makes food look lovely.
I love the range of mugs you have created for your 10th anniversary, what inspired their designs?
The colours are based on the colours that we have used in the range before – mostly in the States where they love colour. The yellow has not been used before but has been developed to compliment the pink, celadon and mulberry tones and tie them together.
The shapes come from the idea that everyone has a favourite mug. People love different shapes and sizes and so I wanted to create something for every member of the family.
Please tell us a little about your website
We started sophieconran.com in October 2013 as a home to all the collections that I have designed. We have been growing with unique and exclusive product, which we are constantly developing. The website is now a go to destination for the whole home, for example we recently launched a beautiful new bed linen range and we are expanding all the time. We pride ourselves on beautiful photography and quality products that are made to be cherished and that make every day a beautiful day.
The 10th Anniversary mug collection is available in August and is pictured above, I wish I had a better photo to share with you as the insides of the four short mugs are pastel shades and just lovely! You can find the full range at www.sophieconran.com and www.portmeirion.co.uk and there is a lovely video about the design process below.