Get to know the inspirational designer as she celebrates 25 years of popular pattern to talk home style, weekends swimming in the Thames and her ‘kerching’ moment…
How will you be celebrating the 25th anniversary this year?
With ‘A Retrospective Exhibition’ at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery , which will reflect what Emma Bridgewater has produced over the last 25 years. We held a party there in May, with the Potteries Brass Band and all our friends and supporters.
What project sticks out over the years as being the most exciting and memorable?
Moving to our Victorian factory in the middle of Stoke, some 15 years ago. It was ten times bigger than we needed at the time – and now it’s too small!!
I’m a huge fan of your iconic Polka Dot and Starry Skies prints. What is your most-cherished design?
I think it has to be the Toast and Marmalade pattern – black writing on cream is my best still and the exhibition reminds me how lovely the early spongeware patterns really are!
Emma’s Polka Dot pattern pottery is still spot-on trend.
Did you always want to be a designer?
Absolutely not! I graduated from London University with an English Literature degree and I thought I would do something far more cerebral; perhaps a literary agent. It all really began when I was looking for a birthday present for my mother. I wanted to buy a cup and saucer, but there didn’t seem to be anything that would fit in with the design in my Mother’s kitchen.
The choices seemed to be either bewilderingly formal bone china with stiff silver and gold patterns, or clunky earthenware. It was one of those “kerching!” moments – here was my opportunity!
So how did you get the ball (or bowl…) rolling?
I drew out four shapes, a mug, a bowl, a jug and a dish, then went to Stoke on Trent and found a model maker, and together we worked to get the first pieces just right.
Who and what inspires you?
I think I’m far more inspired by things and places, than by other people’s work: gardens, flowers, foreign markets full of vegetables and flowers – they all make me want to design.
How do you spend your weekends?
Preferably outside, with my husband Matthew, who currently runs the business so is away a lot of the time, and with our four children. We often go picnicking, especially by the water. This summer we have already enjoyed lovely swims in the Thames, upstream of Oxford.
How would you describe your own homes’ style?
Messy! Any house with four children and a style has a bit of a problem. But I do love arranging flowers in as many rooms as possible. Our furniture is an odd collection of inherited and junk shop buys and we have a lot of pictures.
What do you think will be a big trend this summer?
Can you leave us with your top decorating tip?
Worry less and only use things that you really like and that mean something to you.
To find out more about Emma Bridgewater and her designs visit www.emmabridgewater.co.uk
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