In need of a little interiors update – or just want to bring more creativity to your Instagram feed? Meet the cult potters throwing shapes we love.
When we close our eyes, we see houses filled with beautiful ceramic things. Small dishes that can hold no more than a pocketful of change. Beautiful plates meant to be delicately leant against the back of a bookshelf, rather than eaten upon. Cubist-inspired vases with space enough for a single flower. These are things we want.
Luckily for us, we’re deep in the midst of a ceramics revival. It’s been a full four years since The New York Times declared that “handmade ceramics are white hot”, and everyone from your best friend to your mum has probably tried their hand at a pottery workshop. (If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Sign up for a class immediately.) Instagram, meanwhile, is filled with independent artists making everything from delicate ceramic ornaments to beautifully practical glazed crockery.
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Like many cultural comebacks (see also: poetry, houseplants, 90s fashion) it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why our love affair with this particular branch of home decor is booming. There’s our love of nostalgia, of course. Then there’s our rediscovery of heritage brands – the current vogue for 19th century Portuguese ceramics company Bordallo Pinheiro is testament to that.
But perhaps it’s also down to our hyperconnected lives that we’re cultivating an appreciation of craftmanship. Away from the 24-hour news cycle and rolling social media updates, there’s something profoundly soothing about poring over coloured clay pots on a weekend. Not only does it connect us to human creativity, it makes us feel at home. There are few better antidotes to modern technology, it seems, than sprinkling our living space – whether we own or rent – with a few one-of-a-kind-pieces.
So what are we looking for in our new-age ceramics? Beauty, of course, to lift our spirits. Practicality: we often want things to be useful, not just aesthetically pleasing. Most importantly, character – from hand-painted designs to avant-garde shapes and natural finishes – is the order of the day.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite contemporary ceramicists working today. Follow them on Instagram and invest in their work, if you can: you won’t regret it.
The Pottery Parade
If these smiley saucers don’t make you feel the slightest bit warm and fuzzy, we’re not sure how to help you. Amsterdam-based artist Sandra Apperloo, aka The Pottery Parade, is one of our favourite ceramicists to follow on Instagram for her plates, planters and more, all of which possess thoughtful little faces and come in delightfully wobbly shapes. She also ships her wares to the UK via her Etsy shop – joy.
Natalie J Wood
The minimalists among us should follow Natalie J Wood, a ceramicist from Edinburgh who makes everything from sleek clay clocks to elegant crackle-effect vases. Working in a muted palette of rich pastels (think dusty blues, pale greens and peachy orange), Wood specialises in “clean forms that are both decorative and functional” – but she also has a definite sense of fun.
Element Clay Studio
Heather Knight’s delicate ceramic creations remind us of the natural trinkets we hoarded jealously as children: tiny succulents, smooth seashells, whorled fossils, pieces of coral we begged our parents to buy us in museum gift shops. Based in the US city of Savannah, Georgia, Knight ships her bowls, vases and plant pots around the world. Even if you don’t invest, follow @elementclaystudio on Instagram for regular hits of fragile wondrousness.
London-based ceramicist Jode Pankhurst’s work is both minimalist and cheerful, featuring graphic shapes, swooping black lines and glossy splashes of teal, terracotta and gold. Her speciality is neat little stoneware pots and porcelain vases perfect for holding pens, make-up brushes or showing off a flower stem or two. She also runs regular ceramics workshops from her studio in Peckham – keep an eye on her Instagram feed to catch the next one.
Stylist’s ceramics-obsessed fashion director Arabella loves the work of Ana Kerin, who makes ceramics as Kana London. “I love the organic, tactile, handmade feel of her work,” Arabella says. “It reminds me of the pottery my grandmother use to make.”
Kerin’s calm, soothing Instagram feed shows her work in action, as well as the regular workshops she runs from her airy studio. Dreamy.
A version of this content originally appeared in our weekly email newsletter Stylist Loves Staying In. Want more interiors tips, cooking ideas and at-home culture recommendations? Sign up here
Words: Naomi Joseph, Christobel Hastings and Moya Crockett. Main image: Juliet Furst/Unsplash