Homegirl London pays homage to Harley Boden. Harley is known for his decorative fine bone china mugs, quirky cups and saucers and exquisite espresso cups. His designs feature bold graphics in red and black through to illustrations of organic matter such as rocks, moss, algae and fungi. Some of his creations include a glamourous glimmer of 18 carat gold. The products are carefully made by hand in Staffordshire using time honoured techniques. Harley successfully combines this traditional craftsmanship with his modern and eclectic designs. With limited edition runs, these pieces have an exclusive appeal. If you’re looking for a lovely gift for a friend I’m sure they’ll appreciate a fine bone china cup and saucer from his collection. I caught up with Harley Boden to find out more about his charming ceramic work.
Selection of Mugs and Cups and Saucers
Meet Harley Boden
Harley started his ceramics business back in October 2010 after graduating from Illustration at Camberwell College of Art, London. He tells me – “Exploring the ceramics studio at university was a huge inspiration. I adored the colours, shapes and the size of what people were creating. The studio was a quiet place to be and everyone was hard working. A defining moment was the exploration on my drawing techniques, how my images could be reproduced and applied on to a ceramic surface.”
The business got off the ground from money Harley made from selling illustrations and limited edition prints which he invested in to his ceramic venture. He tells me about his first break – “I sold my first collection to Paul Smith for his Mayfair store which gave me a big confidence boost.” At the moment Harley is a master of all trades – “I’m very much a one band man. I look after all my press, sales and manufacturing. I work in six month cycles so it’s easy for me to manage the design and admin of my business. Saying that, I wouldn’t mind collaborating with other designers in the near future.”
Selection of Cups and Saucers
Being in control of his own business is very rewarding, Harley reveals – “Being able to design without constraints is a joy. I like collecting reference material and taking my time to develop a range. How I edit, draw and slowly put things together without pressure is satisfying. Another favourite part of my job is the relationship I have with my customers. They live all over the world and I find it fascinating to know where my cups are going. I’m currently based in Paris where I manage all operations. I’m here because Paris is a very beautiful city, it’s inspiring to be in and I really like the French way of life.”
Harley Boden Ceramic Collection
Harley talks me through his products – “I make decorative fine bone china mugs, cups and saucers and espresso cups and saucers. Some of my wares are decorated in 18 carat gold lustre and feature graphic motifs or illustrative details. I would say that my wares have both a graphic, modern and organic look to them.” His designs fall into several categories; rock, coastal, flora, woodland, rope, graphic and gold. You’ll find everything from volcanic rock formations to seaside algae, moss, coral, stag beetles and fungi.
Bold Graphic Mugs
The designs are screen printed on to each surface by hand. Harley says – “I’m only interested in working with the finest materials available to me, making my pieces well-made and designed to last is important. My mugs and cups are made in Stoke-on-Trent which has a worldwide reputation for manufacturing the finest china. The most interesting thing about my product is that you won’t find them in large numbers.”
Rock Formation Mugs
The debut Carr collection is special to Harley, he reveals – “The cups and saucers were a launch pad into the ceramics world. This collection took inspiration from forests and woodlands. I remember paying close attention to moss and the undergrowth on the forest floor. I wanted to translate that feeling of discovery and an element of surprise in to the cups. I played with the vessel, using all surfaces to decorate. There were details inside the cup, underneath the saucer and gold elements highlighted areas as light hit the surface. It’s also my favourite collection as it’s the most uninhibited I’ve created. I made the collection because I wanted to, without a buyer or a shop or press in mind.”
Woodland Cups and Saucers
Inspiration for Harley’s work is drawn from his environment, he explains – “It could be based geology, the natural world or even music. It shifts depending on what I want to create. At the moment I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from foliage. I’m always interested to look at things close up and take it from there. I really like the work of French ceramist Julia Huteau. I recently came across her work here in Paris. She makes vases, dishes, sculptural objects and cups. There’s a geometric energy and a playful shape to her work.”
Buy Harley Boden Products
If you’ve fallen head over heels for Harley’s work you can buy his pieces from the Harley Boden Website. If you place an order he can ship overseas if necessary. In terms of prices mugs start at £13 and cups and saucers £23.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs and thanks: Harley.