Designer Richard Brendon
interviewed by Clementine Darby, 4 February 2015
Richard Brendon, the London based designer and British bone china specialist, is renowned for his considered, refined and dynamic designs. QH caught up with him over a rather well presented cup of tea...
Tell us a bit about the company, where did the idea come from?
It all started just over four years ago in my final year of university where I was studying Product and Furniture Design. I was in an antique shop and I realised there were a lot of orphan saucers because people break teacups more regularly than they do saucers. I started buying all of the orphan saucers that I could find and decided to make a use out of them. I had the idea of creating a reflective cup, which would reflect the pattern on the saucer to reunite the two, and making the antique saucer valuable again. After graduating I entered a competition with Wolf and Badger who started selling my Reflect range. The more that I sold, the more I learnt about antique saucers and the history of the ceramics industry, which I am fascinated by. This has provided the inspiration behind many of the current collections.
Can you tell us more about process from sketching your designs to making them a reality?
Firstly, I sketch ceramic shapes that are inspired by antiques china, I like to look at the best elements from the past and re-interpret them in a more contemporary way. A model is then carved by hand, based on my sketches, by a model maker in Stoke on Trent. This is 15% larger than the finished china as this is the amount the china shrinks by in the kiln. The mold is then fired three times and the final hand-painted details are applied before the piece is fired for the fourth and final time.
Where do you retail and what stores are you targeting next?
In London, our stockists include retail in Fortnum and Mason, Thomas Goode and Paul Smith. We are currently looking to develop projects with Harrods and The Conran Shop. We launched the collection with Bergdorf Goodman in New York last July and we are looking to expand our global retail presence.
How have your collections transformed since launching?
Each of the collections has been entirely re-worked. As I have learnt more about the manufacturing in Stoke on Trent, we have moved production to the best manufacturers and refined the designs to make sure each product is the best it can be.
What is your proudest moment since starting the brand?
It was a great honour to be included in the Evening Standard 1000 Most Influential Londoners in 2014.
Are you displaying at any shows that we should know about? (in the UK or outside – QH readers are big travellers!)
Currently we have a couple of products in the Blue and White Printed British Ceramics exhibition at the V&A, which is running until January 2016. At the end of March we will be showing at Design Shanghai and in September we will be showing at Design Junction in London.
What does the future hold for the company?
We are going to be introducing new collections in different materials, working closely with the wonderful heritage manufacturing industries in the UK in order to develop a complete tabletop offering. We will hopefully continue to bring about regeneration to these manufacturing industries. We are also exploring new collaborations with retailers, hotels and restaurants.