Tessa Eastman Baby Cloud

With Collect finished for another year, it has prompted me to dwell on the subject of accessories, particularly my great love of ceramics, and their importance when it comes to designing an interior. Practical, everyday pieces play a pivotal role in shaping the aesthetic of a kitchen, living room and, in fact, the home as a whole. I feel the warmth and expression of accessories encourages my clients to build collections that marry functionality with an appreciation for the art form.

My interest in ceramics and different accessories artists initially began as part of the commitment to continuously drive both design and product innovation within my retail brand. The selection of accessories are a fusion of artisanal couture, where passion, innovation and skill meld to reveal the intrinsic beauty of a material through handcraftsmanship.

I have always had a huge obsession with ceramics. The idea of using your bare hands to mould and shape the clay, to create something extraordinary from nothing, fascinates me. The intimate contact with ceramics when eating and drinking through to everyday living is very important to my work, as is the practical durability of each piece. I think about ceramics as imprints on my projects and a way of leaving a memory. Some are delicate imprints of nature, others are harsh marks – all referring to life’s experiences. These impressions built together make a whole piece and really meld the spaces I create together.

Through the furniture retail arm of my company, FBC London, I am able to pursue working relationships as well as mentoring opportunities with ceramic artists. As a designer, I believe it is crucial to nurture and mentor young emerging talent as much as possible and give them a platform. It’s very important to me to support and work closely to drive both creativity and awareness.

Together with the FBC team, I am constantly on the lookout for exciting innovative accessory artists emerging from around the globe, working with ceramics as well as other forms of art. I try to keep my interior designs fresh and relevant, frequently introducing new artisans to our repertoire, with the different price points appealing to both Fiona Barratt Interiors aficionados and new clients.

My designs are developed and inspired by the world around me. Taking my breathtaking childhood surroundings as an example, these encouraged me to record the textures, shapes, colour and structure of the landscape of Northumberland. This rich source of inspiration has a simple quiet affinity with the clay and the processes that ceramicists use. I like to place ceramics in all of my projects in order to convey the spirit and character of the space, to give it a pulse and a heartbeat. I feel that utilising ceramics crafted by true artisans local to that region reflect the journey of exploration and learning a kin to each project.

The impulsive desire we all have to want to touch, underpins the technical, creative and emotional foundations for using such items in every project.

If you’re wondering how we as a company search for new artists and craftsmen who really fit with the design ethos of our brand, there’s not one specific method. Anything from going to contemporary exhibitions and art fairs, right down to scrolling through Instagram, can present us with new and exciting talent. As well as selling accessories, we also commission a lot of unique pieces through our artists. We tend to search for creatives who push the boundaries between art and craft, as well as the boundaries of materials and textures. We like to focus attention on finding innovative and interesting designers that are, for the most part, undiscovered.

For newcomers to the world of accessory buying, I am pragmatic about which pieces can be overlooked. Some of the formal functional pieces are probably not worth investing in. As much as I love a classic teacup, a whole set is seldom used and, in my kitchen, there’s just not room to store them. Instead, I recommend investing in a statement piece that brings flair to your home, like a bowl in a contrasting glaze or shape to your dinnerware, or a distinctive porcelain vase. Approach your collection with the inevitabilities of life in mind.