Tuesday, April 8, 2014

my favourite things ~ Katherine Smyth

I don't know about you but one of my favourite magazine features is that little bit where they ask the contributors questions. You know, likes, influences, interior style, dream destination, that sort of thing. Elle Decoration takes it a step further with their 'At Home With' feature, and Megan Morton has a fabulous Q&A section in her wonderful book 'Things I Love'. Perhaps it's because I'm basically nosy at heart, but I love these little titbits and the insight the answers to these questions always gives in to the person in question. I find it inspiring, and usually quite real!

So today I am starting what I hope will become a regular feature where I profile clever creative and interesting people and have them reveal some of their favourite things.

 Katherine Smyth domestic ware Black & White Vase complete with cactus dahlia ~ Small Acorns

Beautiful Katherine Smyth exhibition pieces on display in her home.

I have had the pleasure of stocking and selling the beautiful domestic ware made by Wellington-based ceramist Katherine Smyth at Small Acorns for around fifteen years now. (How time flies Katherine!) Katherine's beautiful bowls and dishes put pure pleasure in to every meal. It's ever so easy to enthuse about them to customers, and I always describe them as the sort of pieces that you want to use at every meal whether or not they are appropriate. In other words, even if a roast dinner is on the menu, you want to eat it from one of these bowls. Soft pastel glazes on a brown clay base, each piece is completely made by hand at Katherine's studio in the garden of her home in Lyall Bay, here in Wellington. Perhaps it's because before embarking on a 3-year ceramics diploma in 1989 at the National Art School in Sydney, Katherine was a chef, that there is such an easy relationship between these dishes and the food served on or in them. Aided and abetted too no doubt by several years in London both potting and cooking where she designed crockery for a number of prominent eating establishments including expat kiwi chef Peter Gordon's restaurants, The Sugar Club and The Union Cafe. In 1998 Katherine returned to New Zealand where she has worked as a full-time potter ever since, her domestic ware literally the bread and butter to her incredible exhibition pieces.

 Each piece begins life as a lump of clay on the wheel. Believe me Katherine made it look so easy, when it so obviously is not!

 Pasta bowls awaiting the next stage in the making process.

Studio details including Gus the cat and a photo of one of Katherine's mentors, Austrian potter Lucie Rie.

 More studio details and friends (!)

 Beautiful willowy exhibition pieces awaiting the next stage of the creative process.

 Katherine Smyth bowls of all sizes ~ Small Acorns

Details from Katherine's home, including an owl by Bronwynne Cornish.

Katherine's studio in the garden. Love the repurposed telephone box door!
My Favourite Things

Name: Katherine Smyth
What do you do (and how long have you been doing this)? Ceramist, 23 years
Where do you live? Wellington, New Zealand

My style is... classical, rustic, feminine.

What's your view at the moment? The back garden. The last of the grapes, some groovy looking pumpkins that grew out of the compost, cactus dahlias and a couple of late blooming roses.

What do you collect? Pottery, plants (outdoor).

My most treasured possession is... a ceramic owl made by Bronwynne Cornish.

My favourite colour is... too hard to call. Colour in general is good.

The thing I love most about my home... It's in Lyall Bay by the sea, but tucked away and I have a gorgeous garden so it feels like it's in the country but in the city but by the sea.

Home is... my favourite place but to be avoided sometimes.

What gets you up in the morning? Often one of the cats or the phone.

How do you relax? In the bath - I often fall asleep. I think I relax better when out of town.

Where do you go for inspiration? I love a lot of ancient pottery. I've got a great Phaidon book - it's huge (probably weighs about 5kg), called '30,000 Years of Art'. I never tire of looking through it - always something new (old).

Who inspires you? My brother and four sisters - they all do their best - all the time!

What's on your bedside table? Books I've been meaning to read.

What are you reading at the moment? About to start reading A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry which was on the book exchange shelf at the local bus stop. I've read and loved his short stories in the past.

What's your current obsession? Computer games - a major time waster but fun!

What's in your handbag? Lipstick and Nurofen.

My favourite dish is... green papaya salad.

What's for dinner tonight? Boiled egg, salad and homemade potato sourdough bread.

My favourite season is... summer. I like the extra light and not having to wear as many clothes.

I'd spend my last dollar on... a heavenly cheese.

What's your best decor or design advice? Arrange things in a way so that they talk to each other.

I adore... my dog, Sam.

A perfect day would look something like... sun shining, money in the bank, catching up with friends, somebody else cooking dinner and no dramas.

Tastes of late summer in Katherine's kitchen.

 Camera shy, Katherine and her dog Sam, in the studio doorway.
Thanks Katherine!! I could have pottered (terrible pun) around looking at everything in your home for almost ever.

Amanda xx

For Katherine's domestic ware, please visit www.smallacorns.co.nz
For news and upcoming exhibitions please visit Katherine's website. Pin It

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

the rough with the smooth

Yes, it is one of life's metaphors, but it's also one of those interior juxtapositions that works so well.
I love mixing the rough with the smooth. It's an element of the unexpected, a bit haphazard, it automatically makes a space feel more relaxed, less sit-up-straight, more comfortable and cool.

A small corner of my home by way of example. Smooth luxe velvet sofa meets rough around the edges pallet coffee table. And while we're at it, lovely worn but newly polished wooden floorboards meet chunky concrete. Clearly a case of opposites not only attracting, but rubbing along quite nicely together too.

It's my favourite spot for a morning coffee. Or a glass of wine at night too come to think about it. I just have to race the rest of the family to get there first because it appeals to one and all. Including the dog. Aside from the view outside, this little corner also has my latest magazine stash, favourite inspirational books and a few imperfectly arranged treasures.

And talk about rough with smooth. A recent visitor was shocked - actually quite horrified I think - to see that I had repurposed an old Chinese chamber pot as a pot plant holder. Well, I'd like to think that I have indeed rescued it from a past life that is probably best not dwelt on for too long! Suffice to say that it deserves a nice view and a fragrant candle. It's also a great example of listening to your heart and not your head. Decorating from the heart, because I absolutely love my chamber pot, allows me to move on, and gives me the freedom to ignore any so-called rules or difficult considerations, and to trust my instincts.

Amanda xx

(Incidentally, gorgeous Bonnie & Neil screenprint cushion from Small Acorns. Stunning roses photograph by Kari Herer.) Pin It

Thursday, March 20, 2014

wallpaper makeover

What has happened to the blogging this week? I am wondering the same. And I can't even blame it on the family. By some remarkable coincidence, the girls, even though they go to different schools, are both at school camp. Once my brain had marveled at this realisation, I quickly volunteered Brunnel as a Camp Dad on Eva's camp and contemplated a quiet but secretly blissful few days at home with just Bruno the dog for company. But even the best laid plans can go awry, and I can honestly say that aside from one lovely girls-night-out dinner, the rest of the week has been work, work and more work. Don't feel sorry for me! One gets what one deserves, and this is what my plotting and scheming has decreed I deserve.
Amongst the goings on at the store, we're in the midst of some mini makeovers as the new season fabric and wallpaper collections arrive. I thought you might like to see the amazing impact that a small change can make, in this instance with a single roll of wallpaper.
Now don't get me wrong - we all adore the wallpaper we took down. It made me feel more than a little sick at the thought of it being torn to shreds and replaced without a backward glance. I think this is why, amongst all our wallpaper displays at the store, this is the only one that had not changed in the three years since we moved into this lovely space. The others have been revolving constantly. Most have had a new look at least every other season. But, it was time to move along. We are in the business of interior design after all. And so once the decision was made and the new paper chosen, we couldn't wait to change up our design area.

A bit of a change huh? From beautiful wallpaper-as-art large scale statement floral to an almost graffiti-like paint splash that both stands alone and is, as we are using it here, a great backdrop to our displays. It doesn't feel as 'precious' and I had no qualms hammering a few nails into it so that I could work the display around it, hang some art, etc. Perhaps that's why I like it so much. That and the fact that it makes these dahlias look fairly gorgeous to say the least! And an excuse to phaff around and hunt out another chippy old door which has become an instant table/desk with the help of some upcycled trestle legs.

Hope you've had a great week.
Amanda xx

PS You'll be pleased to know that with a little care and a lot of water spray, our wallpaperer Peter, was able to remove the Ornamental Garden panel in 3 perfect drops. No rips or shreds. I feel much better all round! Pin It
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