Interiors gift ideas for Christmas 2020: China and Ceramics
Last week Element Studios considered lighting gift ideas for Christmas. Lighting can create atmosphere, highlight or hide, transform a space and create intimacy – but real intimacy is tactile. In the home, this means china and ceramics.
When looking for Christmas gifts, the great thing about tableware and accessories is that you can never have enough and can always find something new to complement existing pieces. There are so many British companies (and single makers) out there that there is something for every taste and every budget. Ask around locally for shared studios and check out the seasonal craft fairs (usually outside, so Covid-friendly). A lot of makers are selling virtually this year so be sure to have a look at their social media and websites too. See what is being created in your immediate community. Find out what kind of tableware your recipient has already and complement it with something different but from the same manufacturer. Alternatively, why not start them off on a whole new collection? It can begin with just one item and slowly grow. This is the best way to build your home décor – evolution. Anything that is too samey looks contrived and unnatural.
One company we love that is great for gifting at any time of the year is Emma Bridgewater. Her pottery is timeless and personal. Made in their Stoke-on-Trent factory, the base is always cream-coloured earthenware, so whatever collection you already have, buy something new & it will always co-ordinate. Inherently British looking – originally designed to sit on her mum’s dresser in North Oxford – there is something comforting about all of her pieces. She has wonderful, personal Christmas pieces for every budget.
Ageless heritage china
Famous and a stalwart of British china for over 260 years, is Wedgewood. Using unique heritage materials to produce Josiah Wedgwood’s original 1759’s Jasperware (an unglazed, vitreous, fine stoneware) along with luminescent Queen’s Ware and Black Basalt, Wedgewood are still producing the same handcrafted bone china. Today, the classical and contemporary reliefs that are added to the matt coloured base pieces are produced using copies of his original moulds. Mix and match their classic tableware, or for a Christmas theme you can chose from a collection of wonderful tree decorations all made in the iconic “Wedgewood Blue” Jasperware. Alternatively find a more contemporary twist with plant pots, vases and picture frames.
Timeless British tableware
More down to earth but just as lovely, one brand we specify time and again is Denby. Produced in Derbyshire for over 200 years, Denby pottery’s craftsmanship is still going strong. Some of our clients have had their table and cookware for over 30 years and Denby’s new, more contemporary lines fit alongside these seamlessly. This year for Christmas (with the Covid trend for all things baking) why not make your own DIY hamper with ingredients for something yummy, a recipe, and the pot to bake it in.
Contemporary art galleries
If you are thinking of something more quirky or personal, look towards small, contemporary art galleries for beautiful handmade pieces. Especially this year as many galleries have been closed for long periods and need the support to survive. It’s possible to get really affordable smaller items (particularly locally) but why not get together with other family members & friends and get something extra special – one amazing, fantastic piece is much better than lots of small unwanted bits that end up in land-fill, come the New Year. Our go-to for wonderful one-off pieces is Beaux Arts Bath which represents “up and coming” artists (including ceramicists, painters & sculptors). You never know, you might just have got Mum something that in 5 years’ time is considered a masterpiece!
Local art galleries are a valuable resource for us, and our clients love that they can pop in, talk to the curators directly and look at the pieces first hand. The Sarah Wiseman Gallery is just up the road from us and has some charming, affordable ceramic pieces that are perfect for Christmas gifts. Boutique galleries also tend to be more responsive one-to-one, so try emailing them directly (with ideas and a budget) for advice.
Another great independent local to us is Zuleika Gallery, based in Woodstock near Oxford. Specialising in emerging contemporary art, you can find out first-hand about the artists and their inspiration. You may find that looking for something individual for Christmas, ends up sparking an interest in the artworld. Zuleika Gallery have some interesting interviews with their artists and other curators on their website, so you can have some background information to hand with your special gift.
Christmas is a great time for smaller galleries to build their profile and sell work. Just down the road from our office, for instance is Irving Contemporary, showcasing lovely fine art and ceramics.
Practicing ceramic artists
Practicing artists and makers often have their own studios and websites too. Try looking on the socials to see what’s around and about in your neighbourhood. If you like one creator’s unique style, see what else they have available and start a collection for a loved one that you (or they) can add to over time.
Katie Spragg’s beautiful porcelain sculptures are so graceful, but if you fancy more of a simple Oriental style look at Robyn Hardyman – another Oxford local. There are so many amazingly talented makers out there, and because many of the craft festivals and shows were cancelled this year, 2020 has been really challenging for all of them.
Join the mailing list of your local galleries and artist studios to find out about current exhibitions when they are announced, so that ideas come straight into your in-box and you can get Christmas all sewn up without having to leave the house!