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Studio Visit: Ian McIntyre

We visited London ceramicist Ian McIntyre to talk about his design process and the making-of the Monoware stoneware collection.
Studio Visit: Ian McIntyre
Studio Visit: Ian McIntyre

Ian McIntyre is a British designer who employs a mixture of industrial design and craft skills in his work. He is known for his elegant simple forms, exceptional attention to detail and in-depth research. His redesign of the iconic British Brown Betty Tea Pot was nominated for the London Design Museum’s prestigious Design of the Year 2018 awards and has been showcased at Vitsoe and Margaret Howell. 

Ian is behind our ceramics collection; timeless tabletop essentials, meticulously crafted to have a place in everyday life. 

How would you describe your design aesthetic and where do you look for inspiration?

In all my work, I aim for refined utility – objects that work well and have an understated visual language – in the hope that this might help them withstand the test of time. 

Working directly with the material is a source of unending inspiration (and frustration). I’m particularly interested in other designers who work at the confluence of craft and industrial design, such as Japanese designer Sori Yanagi.

What qualities would you say define your work?
I happily work in the background, this often involves making small innovations with materials, tools, firing temperatures and production processes. I feel this is where there is most scope for progress within my discipline. I spend a long time obsessing over details that are often never seen or hardly noticed by the end user.
What makes the Monoware collection distinctive?
The collection has a unique blend of modern and traditional aesthetics. The forms have subtle complexities, for example soft square profiles merge into round. This detailing has enabled us to develop a contemporary language that is still rooted in familiar and archetypal forms that have proved to endure. We developed a flecked glaze palette which allows for subtle variation within each object. No piece is ever the same, a nod to qualities more commonly associated with studio pottery.
Can you tell us about the production process?
We opted to use three different production processes to make the collection. Slip casting was used to make the mugs and the pitcher. These shapes have tapered profiles with subtle undercuts, so the moulding process requires more complex moulds than typically found. The bowls and plates are the workhorses of the collection and are made on the jigger jolley which rolles and compresses the clay to reduce warping. The platter is made using a ram press which allows us to design large non-concentric forms.
How do you bridge craftsmanship and industrial design?
One of the most interesting aspects of working in this material is that regardless of whether you are making a one off object or producing a thousand, the same mastery of skill and craftsmanship is often required. This is what holds my interest in the discipline: having to continuously consider how an object will be formed, handled, fired, and who has this skillset and is best placed to make it.
And to finish...

What is your favourite piece in the Monoware collection? 
The mug 

What is your favourite meal to cook?
I have recently gone gluten free so lemon polenta cake! 

What tool could you not live without and why? 
Sori Yanagi’s kettle because it reminds me of how I want to work


Follow Ian on Instagram:

Portrait of Ian & hand with clay by Jake Curits

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