The other day I showed some fantastic painted spoons and many of you loved the idea to paint stainless steel with matte paint to use as decorative objects in the home. Then, reader Leigha from Elle Oh commented about Caroline Swift and her gorgeous bone china spoons and of course, I had to learn more. Caroline studied industrial design in Scotland and spent nearly twenty years designing knitwear as head of knitwear design for Benetton which took her to England, Italy and New York City. During her travels and work there, she became curious about design in other areas such as ceramics and interiors. She was also interested in further exploring her culinary passions. What was she to do with all of this curiosity as an accomplished knitwear designer? While most wouldn’t take a risk after so many years in a secure role Caroline felt she was being called to explore her interests further… and she did.
Taking time off can help one to decide whether or not a newfound interest is fleeting or more grounded, so Caroline did just that. She paused and listened to what her authentic voice, the one we all have inside that you can only hear if you listen beyond the noise of the day-to-day. After her break, she went to England to develop concepts and ideas for a food book that she decided to take on. Then a challenge arose. She felt frustrated that she was unable to source the props she needed for her images, the ones she imagined in her mind’s eye and she thought more about this. Caroline spotted what she refers to as an, “intriguing relationship between food and tableware and how they influenced each other.” This led her to design her own line of tableware that is natural, pure, beautiful and that has integrity.
As you can see, one thing often leads to another. What you set out to do can change along the way. Allow the lack of something out there be a catalyst for you to drive change – perhaps if you don’t see something you can create it. Frustration, if channeled in a positive way, can lead to your next great adventure.
Caroline is now creating gorgeous ceramics, most of the work is unglazed to highlight the beauty of the bone china. About the process Caroline explains, “This is an uncompromising and time consuming choice as the pieces must be dry-sanded, at a very delicate stage, to an egg shell finish before being placed in the kiln for the final firing. Bone china is without exception the most challenging ceramic material to work with but it’s colour, beauty and strength after the final firing is unprecedented and allows it to be worked so thinly, whilst still retaining its strength.” Heart and soul clearly goes into her creations.
Clearly, her career change was a good one for her. Today she is producing her gorgeous work by hand out of her studio in Barcelona, Spain. I imagine that many stylists inquire about these gorgeous pieces because they would be perfect for magazines and books as props. Displaying and using them at home would be equally nice, I imagine them in my dining room and when I do, I smile. Not only because they are beautiful but because one women took a chance on her passions.
Owning a piece of Caroline’s work would inspire me to push ahead because I know her background and feel inspired by it. Shouldn’t some of the things in our home inspire us somehow? We cannot afford to buy everything handmade with a unique story, I know, but even a few pieces can go a long, long way. Isn’t this why we buy handmade in the first place, or at least from businesses that were started by people with traits we esteem – like good old-fashioned gumption — to inspire us? A beautiful home doesn’t mean simply aesthetically pleasing but should mean emotionally fulfilling as well. The objects we display can be so much more than pretty, they can be visual reminders of the values and dreams we hold most dear.
(images: caroline swift)