'Everything we stock is designed to be used and treasured'
PUBLISHED: 15:53 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:53 06 December 2018
Maud & Mabel is a gallery and shop in Hampstead featuring understated yet striking art, ceramics jewellery and clothing. Here, owner Karen Whiteley reveals the new makers she is working with and talks Christmas trends.
Is there a particular vision that unites the items sold in Maud & Mabel?
Each and every one of the makers we show is of a very high standard and are the honest expression of shibumi, the zen philosophy of design. We celebrate imperfection alongside perfection, and we covet the simple and the meaningful. Everything we stock is designed to be used and treasured, adding a touch of magic to the everyday. For instance, Kenta Anzai’s urushi infused porcelain vessels and containers are the quintessence of wabi sabi.
Where does the shop’s name originate from?
Having attended an all girls English boarding school from the ages of five to fifteen, it may come as no surprise that my experience there has greatly influenced my life. The name itself originates from two art teachers who were considered eccentric at that time. It felt so right and everyone loves it.
Tell us about some of the makers you’ve started working with recently
Recently we’ve started working with Brigitte Colleaux—crafting wood fired ceramics and works closely with esteemed potter Svend Bayer. Being wood fired over a period of five days gives each piece a totally unique surface.
Pottery West duo, Catherine and Matt, work in tandem to create functional homeware pieces that are a feast to look at. Whilst Matt works at the wheel in search for sleek and perfectly proportioned forms, Catherine experiments with pure soft glazes that heighten the quality of the craft.
French ceramicist Linda Ouhbi creates vessels and bowls which are rich in tones of blue green and earth. They are a fine weight with an interesting balance of large forms but tiny handles, a dialogue that questions the ideas of function and utility.
How do you go about finding new people to work with?
I find new artists at graduate shows, through recommendations, on my travels and some artists come to me with their work.
Are any of them local?
A few of our makers are London-based. Such is the case of Yuta Segawa, Mizuyo Yamashita and Akiko Hirai. Most of them are from all over UK and worldwide.
Do you find that people gravitate towards certain products or designs at this time of year?
Yes, possibly darker rich tones and textured pieces. We currently have an exhibition of Sophie Cook’s vessels for which she’s created a stunning range of autumnal tones—from forest greens, petrol blues and stone. The show has been a huge success. Akiko Hirai’s charming ‘Poppy Seed Pod’ vases, with their organic forms juxtaposed with the roughness of the glaze, is another autumn/winter favourite.
Ceramics have been particularly on trend these past few years – is that something you see continuing?
The demand for hand-crafted items are increasing. We feel this is linked to the desire to connect with the slow, soulful action of making. A bond between maker and user that is strengthened through everyday use or by gazing upon the piece. They act as reminder to pause and be in the moment, allowing us to feel the weight of love, passion, thought and talent that went into them.
Are there any products you’re stocking especially for Christmas?
We always stock tea-lights by Leonora Richardson. We have worked with her to create a fine group of work to show here. Everyday items like cups, bowls, and plates in every form and shade, are quite popular moving towards December. Having said that, many are the customers that come looking for that perfect, unique hand-crafted piece for that special someone.
How do you decorate your own home for Christmas?
I keep it simple with a group church candles of various heights on the mantle piece bedecked with ivy and the tiniest of fairy lights. Leonora Richardson’s tea lights will be thread through our long table on a rough wooden board. Light and charming, the soft glow creates a warm inviting atmosphere.
What do you love most about Hampstead during the festive season?
Hampstead is a blend of characters, lush green and delightful architecture. The festive season seems to exalt these qualities.
Maud and Mabel, 10 Perrin’s Court, Hampstead, London, NW3 1QS; maudandmabel.com