Portrait of Richard Brendon
A good set of tableware is something that many hold extremely dear. From 'the good china' displayed on our shelf, passed down to us by a doting grandma or kindly great auntie, to the 'nice wine glasses' you may have been gifted on your wedding day, or simply your favourite, everyday mug for the most perfect cup of tea. Richard Brendon Studio's ceramic and glassware captures this idea of timelessness and history - it has the familiarity of the heirloom but is combined with the importance and joy that Richard himself places on eating and drinking. We caught up with him to ask him some questions about his work and design process.
How did you first get into ceramics?
It all started when I was 6 and my mum took me to pottery classes, this started my life long love of ceramics. At school I studied art and design and always seemed to end up in the pottery room. I went to study product and furniture design and, again, ended up spending most of my time in the ceramics department! In my last year of university I came up with the idea for my Reflect collection and this lead me to Stoke on Trent, where I fell in love with pottery on a whole new scale. I was amazed by the skill, precision of everything.
Which has been your favourite collection to design?
Really hard to say, it’s like asking a parent which child is their favourite! I’ve enjoyed designing all of them! Diamond was fun, because it was our first collection in crystal and it was really interesting visiting glass factories for the first time. The Jancis Robinson collection was great because I got to work so closely with Jancis and it was amazing working with a world leading expert. I’ve really enjoyed designing the collections we are going to launch next year, one in glass and one in bone china, but unfortunately I can’t share any more detail yet!
What drives you?
Total global domination! No, seriously, a couple of things - making products which are as good as they can be, rather than cutting corners and compromising designs to achieve a particular price point or margin. Our products elevate the everyday, they make ordinary moments, such as having a cup of tea or a glass of wine much more enjoyable and special. The other thing that drives me is regenerating the amazing industries we work with and preserving the skills of the craftspeople. Without them we couldn’t make our products and we wouldn’t have anything.
What have been the biggest challenges for your brand?
So many challenges! This year has unquestionably been the most challenging for obvious reasons, but we’ve been very fortunate that our sales have bounced back really well after taking a serious hit from March to July and we’re in pretty good shape all things considered. Other than Covid-19, I would say from June 2018 to early 2019 was a really tricky period, because we were almost growing too quickly, our revenue tripled in one year. This was exciting but quite scary, as I realised we didn’t have the processes, systems or people necessary. I had to very quickly grow my team and we went form 3 people to 9 people in less than a year. This is such a big change and not everyone gelled - in hindsight I should have grown the team a bit slower and accepted that we would be stretched and we wouldn’t be able to do everything we wanted to do.
Who are your career heroes?
Josiah Wedgwood and Josiah Spode
What are Richard Brendon Studio's key values?
Do you have any other creative pursuits?
Does cooking count? (We would say it definitely does!)
What does the average week look like?
Busy and varied! I try to ring fence my mornings to do focussed work without distractions. I tend to have a lot of meetings with my team and clients in the afternoons. I try to keep Thursday as a creative day to focus on innovation and new collections.
How has the pandemic affected your work?
The biggest change has been not traveling and having a lot of meetings over video! It’s actually been quite nice not traveling for work this year and I won’t go back to travelling as much as I used to. Some years I was in a different county at least every month, taking more than 30 flights per year. I think video calls are fantastic - they aren’t perfect, especially when establishing new relationships, but they save so much time. I live a 5-minute walk from the office, so I’ve actually been going in quite regularly. But as a team we’re all set up to work remotely and this has been working very well on the whole. When we can we’ll start having face to face team meetings again, probably once per week, but I’m totally happy for my team to work remotely, I think it leads to a much better work life balance.
What was the most significant visual moment in your life?
That’s a hard one, definitely something to do with the natural world. Probably driving into Yosemite or perhaps the top of the Aguille de Midi in Chamonix.
What are the most important questions to you?
- What’s for lunch/dinner?
- What are we drinking?
- Who are we seeing?
Jancis Robinson collection