By Alison Howell
Ceramics are inextricably related to our homes: how we build them, the food we eat within them and how we entertain ourselves. From brick walls to bathroom sinks, cookware to cups and even smartphone components, ceramics are everywhere.
A tactile surface, with technical properties including heat resistance, durability, insulation and chemical inertness, this material is something we touch every day, sometimes without realising it. Each of those interactions is an opportunity to spark joy, whether by the way in which your favourite cup sits in your hand or how the light hits your tiles to make them shimmer.
Light is no rare commodity in this modern three-bedroom home in Brantevik, southern Sweden, on the market for SKr9.75m ($1.12m). It is a minimalistic and soothing space with archetypal Scandi pale wood finishes, sleek white walls and generous windows that frame the coastal landscape.
During the pandemic our homes have become physical reflections of our needs more than ever. They have had to work harder, providing safety and security, and fulfilling the roles of workspaces, playgrounds, bars, restaurants and cinemas. They have had to provide comfort, joy and a sense of belonging amid strangeness and uncertainty. The bones of this home inspire just that.
All it needs is a little visual disruption to make it hum with life, and ceramics are the perfect medium to do that.
Introduce the unexpected
As we place more emotional and stylistic emphasis on the objects we have in our homes, we want to curate our favourite objects together, mixing and matching to create a layered, nuanced experience full of pattern, colour and tactility. Just as our lives are unique and complex, our homes should be too. Introducing something unexpected and playful, such as this terracotta London Brick vase (£34 from Stolen Form), helps convey this.
Play with light
The light in this Swedish home floods in beautifully, making it the perfect place to display ceramics at their best. The reflective, refractive and translucent properties of ceramic surfaces come to life when observed under different lighting conditions, including changes throughout the day and seasons. Multi-faceted objects such as these Parian forms by Cicely Peers Design (£90-£395) capture light and almost radiate luminescence, such is their translucence.
I always recommend supporting new and emerging artisans while investing in beautifully made one-of-a-kind pieces. Follow your local university on social media to hear about student exhibitions and showcases. The curated Fresh section at the British Ceramics Biennial festival, which runs until October 17, is a great place to start for new collectors.
Distinguish with tiles
With its all-white walls, this property is perfect for anyone who wants a calming, neutral home. However, I would want to shake things up and would start by injecting a big splash of colour in the living area desk alcove, distinguishing it from the kitchen, dining and lounge spaces. I would eschew colourful paint for tiles. Not just for bathrooms and kitchens, tiles can bring an unexpected tactility to other rooms, for example by way of a glossy tiled dado rail. Here, I would go skirting to ceiling with this Matthew Raw Tool Tile in Green — a beautifully punchy deep green (£45 from The New Craftsmen).
Mix and match crockery
In the kitchen, I would install some open shelving above the counter (and a backsplash — I am a very messy cook) so that I could see my favourite objects while pottering. I have a wide collection of mix-and-match blue and white crockery amassed over the years, ranging from the eggshell blue ovenware passed down from my grandmother to Burleigh pieces in ink blue.
Ceramic makes perfect ovenware that will not peel or scratch, and doubles up as a decorative item, whether on a shelf or dining table. I still use some of my grandmother’s oven dishes from the 1950s, combined with larger pieces from Highland Stoneware to accommodate a larger crowd. This casserole dish with a blue edge (£89.40) is perfect for mixing and matching with my existing collection.
Reflect the environment
From the sitting area, the home has beautiful views of the sea. I would want to bring in some of that colour and dynamism, to marry the view and the interior environment, with this contemporary Flare Royal Blue vase by Arjan Van Dal (£220 from Cambridge Contemporary Art). Cobalt blue is synonymous with ceramics and imbues every piece with a vitality and verve not matched by any other colouring.
Alison Howell is design development manager at English pottery group Burleigh
Photography: Emily Cooper; Sweden Sotheby’s International Realty