Richard on the Reflect Collection: Portobello Road, Orphaned Saucers and Breathing new life into Antiques
This post marks the first in the series of guest contributors; it only really makes sense to start with Richard himself talking about where the brand began, with the Reflect Collection.
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. For those who aren't familiar with Portobello Road, cast your mind back to the "Ain't no Sunshine When She's Gone" scene of the film Notting Hill, with Hugh Grant nostalgically walking through the market. If that doesn't ring any bells well then my last resort is to tell you that's it's one of the world's most famous antique markets, and people all over the world flock to it to immerse themselves in hoards of antiques. I consider myself very lucky to only be a stone's throw away from it even now.
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.
In order for me to actually bring this concept into existence, I went up to Stoke-on-Trent, the home of British ceramics to meet the craftspeople of the new collection. If I was going to do the antique saucers justice, I needed to involve the most skilled craftspeople to make their partnering teacups. I truly believe that if anyone is considering making products with longevity, it’s really important to understand the history of the material and design, and the limitations to what the craftspeople can make, because if you don't grasp this you will struggle to create products that actually work.
Each one of these saucers has been handpicked by members of the Richard Brendon team from antique dealers based around the country and as such are all one-off pieces. At home, we love the mis-matched nature of the sets, knowing that each saucer has it's own story to tell, whether it be a Royal Crown Derby or a Spode.
The full Reflect Collection can be found here.