As a Royal College of Art graduate, and experienced studio-ceramics practitioner, Davies has the highest standards of craftsmanship in the production and creativity of the objects made at the studio. Specialising in wheel-thrown and hand-built porcelain, her work is bought by collectors from all over the world who value her work for its quality and beauty. She trained in ceramics at Bath School of Art and then at the Royal College of Art, honing her skill to make high craft objects that will, if cared for, last forever.
Jo Davies Ceramics is made at her workshop in The Chocolate Factory Studios in East London. She is an award-winning practitioner who teaches at university level, exhibits internationally and has stockists UK wide. Jo spent some time with us here at House of Coco to tell us more…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
Jo Davies Ceramics was launched in 2007 on my graduation from the Royal College of Art but was the result of a lifelong passion for working with clay that had begun more than ten years before in my teens. At the RCA I worked out that I wanted to make objects that people could value in their homes, that had meaning and would enhance people’s lives through design that is hand crafted, beautiful and fulfills a function.
Whats your background?
Born in London but brought up in the hills of Herefordshire, I come from a long line of Londoners. I eventually found my way home and have been in East London for about ten years.
When I was growing up, my mother was in business, supporting our family with her very successful market research company, and generally being a rock. My Dad was the eccentric, arty one who was film editor, photographer and more than a little temperamental. My up bringing in Herefordshire was in a remote cottage that my parents bought in the late 1970’s, they did it up slowly, taking pains over it as the years went by. It’s in this atmosphere that I grew up seeing a gradual consideration of design processes and how to build something from nearly nothing. My mother’s business acumen and attitude helped me to have an understanding of what it takes to make your keen interest in something into a living.
I fulfill many of the roles in my practice – head designer, maker, copy writer, etc – but I also have a few wonderful studio assistants, an occasional photographer and, last but not least, my accountant – what would I do without him?!
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
I think that even the less polished moments over the early years were valuable but, if I were to start again I would have placed my studio a little better in the first few years. Where I work now is a really great place to be in a beautiful cobbled courtyard setting with a good community of creative professionals – it’s a place I want to go in the morning and other people want to visit me there too! Which is a far cry from my first space down a dark alley in a windowless studio!
There have been many challenges since the beginning but the moment that stands out is when my work was featured on television. The coverage was great but was so much more exposure than I had expected, managing the response in sales and from journalists after this was a steep learning curve!
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I know a lot about peacocks. My parents kept them as pets since I was very young so I am familiar with peacock-keeping! I grew up thinking it was normal to have peacocks wandering around your small garden but it slowly dawned on me that my parents weren’t your usual type, which I’m quite glad of now.
2015 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
I’ll soon be showcasing the brand at Heals this February during their Modern Craft Market (2-15 Feb), which will be a major showcase of contemporary craft practitioners. It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m so pleased to have been asked to be involved.
I’m also excited about taking part in Ceramic Art London (17-19th April), the biggest international exhibition for ceramics in the UK held at the Royal College of Art. This is the second time I’ve been involved with this show, it has proved to be a brilliant creative deadline for me to present new one-off pieces as well as the design range. A great event for anyone with even a passing interest in Ceramics and what the material is capable of.
Well, recently, I was glad to be involved with the National Portrait Gallery, selling my work in theirgallery shop in connection with their recent William Morris exhibition. I was asked to come on board because they saw me as a contemporary example of Morris’ legacy of craft and design in the UK. Morris was an advocate of handmade functional objects for people to use so the continuation of this through people like me is interesting to see more than a hundred years after his life.
It was great to be thought of in this way and, even better, the Crafts Council were able to work with us to offer some of my work as a competition prize in conjunction with the exhibition. The National Portrait Gallery were very supportive and even asked me to write a blog post for them.
What is the one product you would recommend from your range for Valentines day?
The Flare Vases – you can’t have Valentine’s Day without flowers and they deserve a beautiful vessel to show them off.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
The growth of the business is continuous, small changes make big differences but, thinking bigger, I hope to build on previous successes overseas and I’m looking forward to working with an exclusive group of stockists outside the UK over the coming 18 months.
Where can people find out more?
FaceBook: Jo Davies Ceramics