This is what happens when you really care about something. Richard Brendon cares about bone china, the quintessentially British form of porcelain, perfected by Josiah Spode in around 1790. He cares so much that he scours antique stores and dealers, for the finest examples of the craft.
What he noticed was that there were many very beautiful saucers that were missing their matching cups as those, used more frequently, tend to suffer chips and cracks where saucers remain intact. So Richard developed something very clever and very beautiful. Richard’s “Reflect” collection pairs his lovingly sourced saucers with handcrafted cups to which he adds a mirror finish in platinum or gold, thus reflecting the pattern in the original saucer. The result is the illusion of a perfect match, an individual, fascinating piece of art, old, new, and beautiful.
We were mesmerized by Reflect and wondered what Richard could do next. Could his next line possibly have the same sense of history and innovation? Would it be the equivalent of the difficult second album? In fact, Willow Range is a triumph.
Once again, Richard drew on his passion and expertise. Willow pattern plates, blue on white, were just about the most popular designs over the last two hundred years. British readers will remember aunts and uncles, who proudly displayed their blue and white willow pattern plates on dressers, mantelpieces and even on the walls. Tastes change and the virtues of simplicity are in mode. In response, Richard has deconstructed the traditional patterns retaining small elements on plates, cups saucers to create a range which is contemporary but with endearing historical reference. It is as clever as it is beautiful. Produced by the same Stoke on Trent craftsmen who are responsible for the rest of his work Willow is, once again, rather special.
With the difficult second album successfully navigated, Richard’s latest work is more of a duet, or perhaps super-group. He has worked with Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham’s Paternity organisation to create the Wrap and Reasons ranges. The mirrored reflective cups are still there, and both ranges are in cobalt blue and burnished gold on, of course, fine bone china made in Stoke on Trent. The patterns are unlike anything else you will see on a tea service. And, maybe with an eye on the American market, there are even coffee mugs. Described by Richard as “Driven by history and powered by pattern”.
Richard’s creative process is thoughtful, intelligent and inspired by his passion for the history of bone china. And it shows. Anyone who finds herself or himself in possession of an example of his work can consider themselves very fortunate indeed.