Designs by Melody Rose first caught my eye at the Renegade Craft Fair a few years ago, and then I bumped into the lady behind the brand at Tent London again this September and was excited to discover how her line of quirky decorated ceramics has grown in the intervening years. In addition to her original range of up cycled plates and tea cups designer Melanie Roseveare has recently launched a complementary fine bone china range that features her trademark idiosyncratic motifs. Think skulls, kissing couples, dragonflies, wolves and nudes. And some exciting new dramatic designs on the way for 2014…
Can you tell us a bit about your background: how did you come to work with ceramics and where did you learn your aesthetic from?
I wanted to be a painter when I was young but got a job with an international wine and spirits company when I moved to the UK from Canada in my early 20′s. It was a great experience and I did travel with my job and even went to live for a few years in South Africa but still missed my first love, art, and so I continued to make. When I returned to London I decided to work freelance and I took a range of part time courses in ceramics. I was very inspired when I saw Grayson Perry‘s Turner Prize winning show and the way he used the surface of his pieces as a canvas for his ideas. He was using a digital process to produce images to print on ceramics and I decided to learn everything I could from there.
I believe you grew up in Canada, what brought you to the UK and what do you miss most about your home country?
I grew up in Canada and moved to the UK in my early twenties when I fell in love with London. The things I miss most about my home country is family and friends. I also miss the countryside especially in the autumn when all the leaves are changing colours, it’s incredibly vibrant and beautiful and my favourite time of year.
What do you look for in the up cycled china pieces that you use?
I always look for pieces that are great quality and from a good factory if I can, and condition’s really important. I also love finding pieces that are quirky with interesting original details to add to and transform.
Why is it important to you to take an ecological approach to your designs?
I think it’s really important to try and reuse wherever I can. I’ve always collected antique and vintage ceramics and couldn’t believe the amount that sits unused or wasted in attics, charity shops, auctions while people buy more and more new pieces. It’s just such a waste of resources but also often of beautiful quality pieces that should be enjoyed and still have plenty of life in them. I love to introduce the idea of using pieces everyday that were once thought of as for ‘special occasion’ only.
Why did you recently decide to branch out into your own bone china design production, and what can customers expect to find in this collection?
I was constantly being asked to make big tea and dinner sets for people and also to make much larger numbers of pieces so I decided to launch the range of tableware to go with my upcycled collection. I like the idea that people can choose from either range or they can mix and match from both ranges to create unique settings.
You particularly like to play with surreal combinations in your designs, where do you look for inspiration?
I take inspiration from the everyday things around me. I like to make pieces that have humour and are playful, but with an edge. I always liked the theatrical style of the baroque period and I was very influenced by surrealist painters when I was young. I like to think I can capture those feelings on my pieces.
How do you hope that your customers will use your ceramics, and what is the best part about seeing them in use?
The pieces do look beautiful on display, but they are completely functional and it’s great to see them in use. I love to see people taking pleasure from pouring a cup of tea.
What has been the highlight of running your own business so far?
Every week there’s something new and exciting and it’s constantly surprising me how much pleasure I have from my work. I’m very proud to be selling my ceramics in 15 countries around the world now and in some great galleries and shops as well as online.
Any downsides that you can share, and any tips for newcomers hoping to establish their own product design business?
It’s been a huge learning curve setting up Melody Rose. There’s always a new challenge and you have to really learn from your mistakes and move on rather than let it hold you back. It sounds like a cliche but you have to absolutely believe in what you are doing and be passionate about it. It’s a huge amount of work to get going and there’s no set hours so it’s a real labour of love.
What are you planning in 2014, and can you share any sneak peaks into new designs you are working on?
I will launching a new collection a bit later in the year in 2014. I don’t have anything to show at the moment but you can expect to see a lot of colour and a lot of drama!
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