One of my favourite homeware ranges has to be the designs by Fenella Smith. Pure and simple in shape and form, and distinctive in design, her items are pieces for everyday use. Cute animal illustrations with a hint of humour that make you smile, stylishly adorn tableware, linens and stationary. Look out for the gorgeous jugs with their unusual shapes, the pouring one without the handle is such a lovely addition. Starting off in ceramics, Fenella has now expanded her business into printed textiles like cushions, and kitchen linens and elegant stationary too. I also love that she is a person whole likes to ‘give back’ and her Dogs Trust range is just so adorable, totally irresistible.
Here, Fenella tells us a bit more about herself and her lovely collection.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I live in the countryside outside Henley on Thames with my husband Simon who is Creative Director at Arcadia and my three lovely step children. We have two rescue dogs, mildly bonkers in their own way. Bramble a Lab Collie cross and Fox a Border Collie.
How did you get into designing ceramic ware?
I inherited a lot of ceramics from my Nana Adelaide, she had a real eye for unusual shapes and designs. Her fascination with ceramics was most certainly passed onto me!
Your range has developed from ceramic ware into many more items, what else do you have in your range?
We have moved into fabrics – aprons, tea towels, aga toppers and oven gloves. I love sourcing and working with fabrics.
We also have a stationary range, my father, before he retired was a print merchant so it seemed only right, with his guidance to develop stationery.
What inspires you?
My childhood is a huge inspiration, we had a fun very bohemian childhood, lots of pets and waifs and strays. I also travel a lot with my husband, different sounds, colours and textures can lead to great ideas. I’m also a true daydreamer and this is often where I find the beginning of an idea forms.
Where would you love to see your pretty pieces being used?
Everyday in everyone’s homes. They are well made, elegant objects but I have made them so they enhance daily life, not only through the design but through how they are used. For example the handle-less jug fits in a fridge door and the oven dish has handles on the side so you don’t dip your oven gloves in the food as you grab it out of the oven.
So far, what has been you career highlight or proudest moment?
Working with Fortnum & Mason has been a huge highlight, they are such an important part of our heritage and I have such wonderful and vivid memories of visiting every Christmas as a child. They are also quite simply really very lovely people to work with.
Which ceramic ranges (yours or other) do you use in your own home?
We have them all, I test everything by living with it before we launch it. It is only by living with an item do you find out if it actually serves its purpose.
From your own designs, what is your favourite piece and why?
The Labrador Table Jug is my favourite. I love the shape and the Labrador design was inspired by my lovely dog Bramble.
What is next, what should we look out for?
Breeds the book I wrote with my brothers has just launched. I have also launched a range in conjunction with Dogs Trust, 25% of sales goes directly to them.
We also have a lovely Christmas stationery range of Christmas cards and wrap.
If you were not a ceramics designer, what would you be in your next life?
I’d be the harbour master on the Ile de Re. It is my favourite place in all the world and I could think of nothing better than watching the sailing yachts come and go each day. The island also has some fantastic storms which would add some excitement!
What is your favourite colour?
Yellow. My husband always jokes that something on my person is always yellow, be it my shoes, handbag, iPhone cover… there’s always yellow somewhere!
Personally I could never choose a favourite design, however, like Fenella I do have a soft spot for the Black Labarador Jug, as that was also my first Fenella Smith piece given to me as gift, one I use all the time.
All images supplied by Fenella Smith.
Feature by Theoda Solms Iles.