Meet Richard Brendon
We speak to Richard about how he started his business, his passion for regenerating master craftsmanship all over the world and where you'll find him if it's not in our London studio.
How long have you been doing pottery?
My mother used to take my sister and me to pottery lessons as children, so you could say that’s where my love of ceramics began. It was then that I learnt that pottery is definitely not as easy as it looks! Growing up in London surrounded by amazing museums such as the V&A definitely spurred on this interest in ceramics even more, which meant when I started Kingston University studying product design, I already had a real desire to learn more about this versatile material, the history of it and how to design products using it.
How would you describe your style? What sort of trends/designs/eras do you favour?
I wouldn’t say I have a very specific style, or one that can be put into words! I appreciate both antique and contemporary styles, and my goal is to create products that seamlessly blend the two, creating timeless collections that will be cherished by generations to come.
How the idea of creating your first collection came up?
It all started in 2010 when I was studying product design at Kingston University. As part of my commute to my part time job in a pub, I would pass by the antiques market on Portobello Road in West London, famous for hosting one of the largest antiques markets in the world.
What used to strike me during my outings down Portobello Road were the number of beautiful antique saucers piled high, without their matching teacups. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I went into one shop to ask why this was the case. Perhaps obvious to some, but given the delicate nature of the teacups and the frequency with which they're used, they were more likely to break, and only the saucers would remain. I took a pile home with me to work out what could be done about this rather sad tale.
This is the beginning of the Reflect Collection: by making a teacup with a reflective surface (either gilded gold or platinum) and placing this on the saucer, it immediately breathed new life into the intricate and beautiful antique designs. Not only that, but it allowed these antiques to live in a contemporary setting, and hopefully they will be cherished by generations to come.
How did you realise it will become your passion and future?
The amazing craftsmen we have up in Stoke-on-Trent are making bone china not by following prescriptive steps written down in a text book, but by learning the skill and methods which have been passed down from generations before them. The same also applies to our glass blowers in Slovenia: there is no need for them to take precise measurements each time they extract the molten glass, it’s an instinct they have and a deep understanding of their materials.
Once I witnessed these immense skills, this became a personal mission of mine: to celebrate and help preserve heritage craftsmanship around the world, bringing it back to the forefront of people’s minds by way of creating timeless pieces using traditional materials and techniques.
How do you remember the reaction of your family and friends when you decided to create a pottery brand?
I didn’t start creating my collections with the intention of starting my own business actually, it all happened quite organically! I remember specifically having a conversation with my father whilst I was working part time in a bar in London. Liberty and Le Bon Marché became customers and I decided that it was probably about time I stopped packing up boxes for shipment from his flat and make my business official. He of course was incredibly supportive, which I’m so grateful for.
Where are you based?
Our studio is based near Portobello Road, London. This is where the ideas for new collections are first conceived, but it goes without saying that these can’t come to life without our phenomenally skilled craftspeople in both Stoke on Trent and Slovenia.
Describe your studio.
We’re only small, tucked away in some charming workshops not far from Portobello Road. Though the collections aren’t manufactured in London, it can sometimes feel like it, as we’re always surrounded by our cut crystal and bone china collections. We’re slowly running out of space as I can’t help bringing back amazing antiques I find here, there and everywhere!
Where would we find you outside of the studio?
Walking Monty on the Somerset Dorset border followed by warming up in front of the fire in The Queens Arms, Corton Denham or skiing- I recently had the most amazing trip to Colorado.
Where is London's best kept secret?
7 Saints on All Saints Road is a great neighbourhood restaurant. Really good cooking and great seasonal ingredients, it’s only a matter of time before word gets out.
What's your idea of the perfect pairing?
Sauternes or a good tawny port (out of our Jancis Robinson glass of course!) and Stichelton
What’s your house wine and / or cocktail?
Old Fashioned and Cune Reserva is my house red.
What’s been your career highlight so far?
That’s a difficult one! In terms of a particular event in time, it was meeting Jancis Robinson, and kicking off our collaboration together. It was an incredibly humbling experience to be chosen to work with someone so knowledgeable in their field.
You’ve just woken up: tea or coffee?
Cappuccino, in my reusable cup whilst taking Monty for a walk.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?
It’s not really a gift but my fiancés engagement ring was made from a piece of jewellery that has been in my family for generations. I worked with a jewellery designer, Daisy Knights, that my fiancé loves to reset the stones into a contemporary take on the original piece.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
My fiancé arranged the most amazing surprise weekend away for my 30th birthday. It started at Tom Kerridge’s pub The Hand and Flowers in Marlow followed by a taxi to Heathrow to catch a flight to Nice and dinner the next day at Mirazur. I thought we were going to Devon for the weekend!
What advice would you give to up and coming designers?
Persistence. I also cannot stress enough the importance of knowing the people who are making your products, on first name terms even- if possible!