How I design a new collection of ceramics – Part 1

 

One question I get asked quite often is how I come up with our new designs at Katie Alice, so I thought I’d reveal some of the behind-the-scenes details. Part 1 covers the inspiration behind how your favourite collections are created!

It’s now been ten years of pouring my heart and soul into drawings that capture moments, memories and places from throughout my life into delicate, vintage designs that you know and love.

There is nothing I love more than sitting down to work on a new collection. From coming up with ideas and scribbling down little sketches to bringing the final product to life. Lately, it’s been difficult finding the time, what with the day-to-day running of the business and raising our two wonderful girls.

What is the source of your inspiration for each design?

My main source of inspiration for designs has (and always will be) nature. We’re fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful areas in England with glorious walks, green space and a picturesque landscape right on our doorstep.

I find that a mixture of visiting plush gardens and exploring new places can be the most stimulating, as my imagination begins to run wild with the nuances of the colours and patterns that nature weaves so effortlessly. It really can be as simple as walking the dog to get that hit of creativity I need to start working on a new line.

Equally, as much as my designs are for all of you (of course), they’re also for me. When I open my kitchen cupboard or the next birthday inevitably swings around, I’m left searching for the perfect gift (does anyone else find that mugs are the best presents?). I can’t always find quite what I’m looking for, so it’s back to the drawing board to figure out what exactly it is I’m missing.

Sometimes it’s difficult to finalise the design too, as I become so attached to the variations I’ve created. Eagle-eyed Katie Alice fans will have noticed the similarities between the flowers on Josie’s Blush and Blooming Margaret and you can read all about how I made the decision to keep both designs in my previous blog posts.

And then of course is the vintage artwork that I source, which inspires Katie Alice designs. I love the idea of taking some old and forgotten beautiful pieces of artwork and giving them a new lease of life. Sometimes they are repainted or recoloured, and sometimes they simply inspire a collection. They could be snippets of vintage wallpaper, old fabrics or original pieces of artwork. Our Christmas collection a few years back was actually inspired by a handpainted handkerchief that had the most gorgeous little Santa Claus on it!

 

How do you come up with the names of your designs?

I would say the most challenging part is naming a collection. Technically, the hard work is done by this point – the design is ready and the samples are on their way. But choosing two words to describe an entire design has become more challenging as we have expanded.

Originally, we stuck with this formula to use descriptive words that captured the essence of a collection such as Ditsy Floral and Forest Fling.

However, when we relaunched the brand in 2021, we decided to take a new approach and name collections after significant women in our lives. A perfect way to pay tribute to and celebrate women who have shaped and inspired us. So, Blooming Margaret and Josie’s Blush were born. These two collections are both named after my grandmothers, whose pretty gardens were definitely an early inspiration for me.

It’s also added a personal touch to our new collections and opened up a whole host of names that we can use in the future too!

 

What is your favourite design that you’ve created?

Even after all this time, the first design is still one of my absolute favourites. I think it was always going to be since it marked the start of our journey at Katie Alice.

As we’ve evolved as a business, our designs have too, but Cottage Flower still has a special place in my heart. Its pastel tones and shabby chic vibes have made it one of our most popular lines to date. Even though it’s discontinued now, we still get requests all the time for it to return and maybe it will in the future… who knows!

Katie Alice - Cottage Flower set of six mugs in pastel shades on a garden bench

The first collection – Cottage Flower

 

My current favourite is Josie’s Blush. I absolutely adore it! It’s been such a joy seeing it live and how much love it has got on social media too. It’s also the first big collection we’ve launched entirely ourselves after we took on the role of managing the manufacturing during the pandemic.

Katie Alice Josie's Blush pink dinnerware collection

The pandemic changed our business in ways we could never have predicted. Because of that we’ve been so busy working, that we haven’t been able to share our processes as they’ve happened!

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Which design is your favourite?