Homegirl London pays homage to Sophie Richardson. This designer-illustrator creates a beautiful collection of fine bone china crockery. Her illustrated patterns give a decorative nod towards the mid-century modern era with hand-drawn roses, flowers and leaves in blues, aqua, teal, pinks and yellows. You’ll find everything you need to create your own tea set from fine bone china teacups and saucers to mugs, teapots and milk jugs along with plates and bowls. These pretty pieces are all British made in Staffordshire and hand-decorated using screen prints of Sophie’s designs. Sophie also makes bespoke wedding invitations tailored to suit your own wedding theme. I caught up with Sophie Richardson to find out more.
Books and Flowers Teacups, Saucers and Milk Jug
Meet Sophie Richardson
Sophie didn’t start off studying an art-related course, she reveals – “I zig-zagged my way into the design as I originally studied Sociology. I then worked for several years as a Picture Researcher for major museums. It was a huge privilege to spend my days exploring the collections of museums like the V&A. I love art and design and the whole history of it. I’ve always enjoyed drawing and so eventually the craving to be more creative inspired me to study again, this time for a masters in Graphic Arts. During that time I developed my illustration techniques and began making my own products. Two of the most influential jobs I have had were working with product designer Snowden Flood and as a designer at Graham and Green. Both brands are really quirky and design-led and so it’s a pure pleasure to work with them.”
Sophie explains how the business idea came about – “I’ve been dotty about patterns for as long as I can remember. Wallpapers and the patterns on my clothes are vivid in my earliest memories. I also grew up spending many summers in Cornwall which is a hive of pottery and ceramic making, so I think that began my interest in ceramic forms. In my early twenties, I watched with awe as brands like Emma Bridgewater and Cath Kidston brought new life to everyday items like mugs and plates with beautiful decorations. But it was during my masters in graphic arts at the University of the West of England (Bristol) that I had the time and resources to put my love of illustration, patterns and ceramics into action.”
Rose Grid Alphabet Mugs
The catalyst to make her first range came when Sophie was invited to join the Hidden Art Design Fair in Cornwall in the summer of 2012. Sophie tells me – “I began with a very small amount of my own money and since then have reinvested every profit back into gradually growing my range. I have so many design ideas stored up that I’m often tempted to apply for a huge bank loan! But I’ve been brought up to be quite careful with money so I’m attempting to grow organically, it takes some patience!”
Sophie is the sole owner of her business but she does get some help from her mum on the day to day running of the company. Sophie elaborates – “My mum is artistic too and has always encouraged my creativity. When I began to design products it was only natural that she got involved and supported me. I make all the creative decisions and spend my time sketching ideas, illustrating designs and working closely with my manufacturers; small pottery in Staffordshire. My mum keeps books and puts together the orders. She also looks after my stock at my parents’ home in Bristol because I live in a flat in London which is also my design hub and too small to keep teapots and mugs here as well! I’m also lucky to have friends who work in editing, PR and photography that have very kindly contributed their knowledge.”
View the Sophie Richardson Collection
Sophie talks me through her style – “My designs are quite free-flowing with a nod to mid-century modern influences.” The majority of the work is centred on the crockery collection, Sophie tells me – “I create illustrated fine bone china. My designs are applied by hand, in Staffordshire. I use a minimal colour palette of blues, aqua, teal, pinks and yellows. I like to contrast-rich and jewel-like colours with subtle pastels. My collections include teapots, mugs, teacups and saucers, plates, bowls and jugs.”
Grid Rose Teapot
Fine bone china is a traditional heirloom because it’s incredibly strong and really will last a lifetime which is why it’s such an important material for Sophie. She explains – “Today there is so much thicker, cheaper stoneware in the shops that people assume it’s more resilient to everyday use, but it’s actually more porous and chips easily. I’m really proud of the quality of china I use and that it’s decorated here in Britain. It took a long time to source shapes that are a contemporary take on mid-century designs, enhancing my illustration style. The pottery I work with is built on hundreds of years of ceramic-making in Staffordshire, they take great care in every stage of production. The result is a beautiful combination of flawless forms, with crisply screen-printed decoration.”
There are three main crockery designs which are inspired by a mix of visual stimulation. Sophie elaborates – “Every idea springs from something unexpected that I’ve seen, in an art gallery, vintage market, a walk on Hampstead Heath or even just looking through design books at home. Nature is always a key component of my designs. The variety, beauty and detail of plants is wonderfully endless and a refreshing antidote to urban life.” Books and Flowers Collection: “This tea set was inspired by the whole idea of enjoying tea. I was curled up with a cuppa looking at my own shelves of books and thought what a nice motif they made. The style is also a touch art deco, I wanted a way to combine simple black line illustration with pops of colourful flowers.”
Books and Flowers Teacup and Saucer
Grid Rose Collection: “This tableware was inspired by 1950s textiles. It’s a playful design contrasting florals with a dynamic cross-hatched effect. The motif also decorates my alphabet mugs, which are my bestseller. I think because they’re quite unusual and yet a perfect personalised gift. I hand drew each letter of the alphabet so each letter is unique.”
Grid Rose Alphabet Mug
Botanical Collection: “This is my recent collection which was inspired by a day at Kew Gardens. In the Palm House I was amazed by the multitude of different leaves. I wanted to focus entirely on leaves yet create a collection that would chime with classic kitchenware so I used a calming combination of grey-blues. There are subtle Scandinavian influences in the design. I love vintage Scandi china and the illustrated textiles of Josef Frank. I always combine a range of ideas to create something that feels new and unusual.”
Aside from the crockery, Sophie has put her graphic design skills to good use by creating wedding stationery. She explains – “There is a range of designs shown on my website that are adapted to customer requests. Usually, people just change a few colours but I am open to bespoke requests. You can choose from a mix of patterns including dots to chevron patterns and florals.”
Ditsy Berries Personalised Wedding Stationery
Buy the Sophie Richardson Products
If you love Sophie’s work you can buy the beautiful pieces from her website at Sophie Richardson which can be shipped overseas if required. To give you an idea about prices, mugs are £12-16, teacups with saucers £20, teapots from £48, jugs £18, plates £25-30 and bowls are £25. Aside from the bespoke wedding stationery, Sophie can also make upholstery fabrics and crockery where 100 pieces are ordered.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Carmel King and Sophie’s own. Thanks: Sophie.