Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You've Gotta Love Terracotta; Get Fired Up about Warm-Toned Homewares. by Dominic Lutyens

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You've Gotta Love Terracotta; Get Fired Up about Warm-Toned Homewares. by Dominic Lutyens

Article excerpt

Byline: Dominic Lutyens

TRENDS go in cycles, and it has been at least 30 years since terracotta was last in vogue. Back in the Eighties, ancient Roman and Greek architecture and ceramics inspired countless artists, designers and architects, and terracotta -- Italian for "baked earth" -- was hugely popular.

Today's designers are rediscovering this clay-based medium, appreciating its rich orange tones and raw, warm, tactile surface. Rather than delving into the classical past for inspiration, they are giving it a contemporary twist, moulding it into streamlined, even starkly minimalist products. Yet, influenced no doubt by a renewed interest in traditional crafts, they're also attracted to terracotta's historic, primitive and rustic associations -- from farmhouse earthenware to more utilitarian pieces.

Designer Tom Housden of Hand & Eye Studio makes lights with terracotta shades, some partly coated with white glaze for a more contemporary look. Certain of his designs are manufactured in Stokeon-Trent "to support the UK's dwindling terracotta industry".

Housden reimagines terracotta in a thoroughly modern way. His hardedged A-Beam pendant light looks industrial, has LED lights and hangs from super-fine cables.

FROM RICH ORANGE TO BLUSH PINK WITH WARM COPPER Ceramicist Sue Pryke, whose teapots and jugs are slip-cast -- meaning liquid clay slip is poured into plaster moulds -- is equally enthusiastic about the material and believes it has been undervalued. "With a diminishing terracotta industry in the UK, there's been less interest in it, although plenty of potters use it.

"In Spain and Portugal it comes in very traditional styles. Its Seventies image of chicken bricks and olive oil pourers hasn't helped. We've craved dishwasher-proof crockery for years, but now we're happy to enjoy handcrafted pieces that need hand-washing." Habitat made the chicken brick famous and still stocks it. The store recently launched its new Elliot terracotta cookware range with a decidedly handcrafted aesthetic.

Silvia K, a ceramicist whose pieces are stocked by London gallery The New Craftsmen, likes terracotta's "historical richness and nostalgic comfort". …

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