Homegirl London pays homage to Victoria Mae Designs. Victoria makes an eclectic range of bone china tableware decorated with diverse designs inspired from her travels and the different cultures she has visited. With thirteen collections, you’ll find florals through to modern geometrics and graffiti adorning teapots, tea cups and saucers, mugs, jugs and dinner plates. After a work placement at Royal Stafford, a Stoke-on-Trent based pottery, Victoria was hooked on ceramics and it wasn’t long before she was decorating teapots. That was in August 2012 and it’s been one big enjoyable tea party ever since! I caught up with the owner to find out more about Victoria Mae Designs.
Graffiti Teacup and Saucer (Storm in a Teacup)
Victoria Mae Designs
Victoria is originally from South Africa and studied Textile Design in Durban. Afterward she worked as a home furnishing textile designer for the mill in Durban called David Whiteheads. Deciding she wanted to see more of the world Victoria came to London where she’s been for ten years and calls the capital home. Victoria tells me – “I studied a BA in Surface Design at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. At the same time, I was undertaking freelance design, mainly for fashion prints and also illustration for books and marketing design.”
Victoria Mae Hoey
Her love affair with ceramics started when she was awarded a work placement at Royal Stafford, a Stoke-on-Trent based pottery. She reveals – “While there I fell in love with Stoke and ceramics. I also increased my collection of teapots considerably – I knew this was the beginning of a lifelong passion for ceramics! I have always loved tea and anything tea-related, from teapots to milk jugs. Some of my earliest memories are of colonial-style tea times at my grandparent’s farm in South Africa and homely tea parties with fresh cheese scones prepared by my gran.”
Bicycle Plate, Teacup and Saucer and Mug
This inspired her final exhibition for university, she tells me – “I designed a chess game made out of tea sets. One half was in black and white designs only, while the other was colourful. The pawns were teacups and mugs, kings and queens were tea and coffee pots, knights were milk jugs and the castles were sugar bowls. The designs I created reflected the different aspects of my life – the places I had travelled and the experiences that made me, me.”
Blue and White Paisley Tea Cup and Saucer
After university Victoria had quite a few teapots and not quite enough room for them all which kick-started her business. She explains – “I have a very entrepreneurial character and grew up with parents who started their own businesses. I decided to set up an Etsy shop selling my ceramics. As this happened I began getting orders and so continued to make more products. Next was a shop at Not on the High Street. It was such an amazing feeling to know that people liked my designs and wanted to buy them. From there it’s kept grown and I’ve started to supply retailers while still selling online.”
London Underground Teacup and Saucer
Victoria is based in Watford, Hertfordshire at her home studio. She tells me –“I love being able to work whenever I feel the urge. This is also a great location, with reasonable rent and close to London for meetings and inspiration!” Much of the time Victoria works alone but does seek help from her husband, who is in marketing. She divides her time between managing the business and designing which keeps her stimulated. Being in control of her own destiny is inspiring, she reveals – “I love that I am building something of my own and am in control of my future. Not relying on other people for job security and pay rises is liberating. Although it is also risky and very hard work, it’s worth it and the positives far outweigh the negatives for me.”
Victoria Mae Designs Collection
Victoria tells me about here designs – “My work is very eclectic. One of the things I love about having my own label is that I don’t have to limit myself to a particular style. I want to create a business where there is something for everyone. So depending on how or where I am inspired, the designs vary. These feature on dinner plates, big and small pitchers, jugs, mugs, teacups, and saucers plus teapots. They are currently all made of bone china and the patterns are applied with digitally printed decals. There are about thirteen main ranges – from florals to modern geometrics and graffiti. On the horizon is a range of ceramics from British pottery and I’ve recently launched a small collection of wedding favours, tea gifts, and notebooks.”
Circles Plate, Teacup and Saucer
Victoria talks me through some of her collections. Blue Scribbles: “This design was inspired by traditional textile designs from Papua New Guinea – Maori woven tapa cloths. I studied these textiles when I was in South Africa and saw them when I visited New Zealand. It was one of those special moments in life when something completely inspires you. I loved the carefree, crude, almost childlike drawings. I did some of my own in the same style using blue crayons!
Blue Scribbles Design
Black and White Paisley: “Growing up in Durban, there is a large Indian influence and I was surrounded by Indian block prints and paisleys from a young age. The shape has always intrigued me and I have spent years doodling and drawing paisleys. The simple design took ages to draw and perfect – so although it may look quite simple, it actually took quite a bit of delicate work.”
Black and White Paisley Jug
Bicycles: “I visited the Museum of London retro bike exhibition which inspired me. I also have this silly joy for seeing bikes chained up in different countries and can’t resist taking pictures of them.”
Multi-coloured Rose: “We always had roses in our garden when I was growing up and one of my sisters has a huge beautiful rose garden. I like the fact that the rose is such an English thing which is a bit of a play on the Englishness of tea and delicate tea sets. I painted a series of doodles with inks and this range was born. The pink photographic rose plate was designed from photos taken in my sister’s rose garden.”
Multi-coloured Rose Design
Taking photographs is the start of the design process for Victoria. She explains – “I love photographing anything interesting I come across. I’ll mull it over for a few days before I start developing a design. For example, the graffiti range was first inspired by some derelict trains I kept seeing on the overland into Euston. I saw them every day for weeks before taking photos and went off in search of more examples to get a feeling for the style and randomness of it all. When I sat down to design the mugs, I started thinking of using slang words on the ceramics and eventually developed the ‘Don’t be a MUG’ mug and the ‘Storm in a Teacup’ teacup. I really like to reinterpret a thought, feeling or experience in my own way, how I see these things. It’s like seeing the world through Vicky-toria eye!” See the first picture in this article.
Buy the Victoria Mae Designs Products
In terms of prices – dinner plates are £18, teacups and saucers £12, mugs £10, small jugs £20 and large jugs £30. The rest of the products vary slightly. Victoria is also happy to make bespoke designs if you have an idea in mind.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs and thanks: Victoria Mae. Disclosure: This feature includes the following affiliate partners – Etsy UK and notonthehighstreet.com(if you click through from my website and purchase items from the affiliates I will earn a small commission).