I first came across Steve Harrison’s work in Soho and was immediately fascinated by how regal looking it was -the motifs, the embossing, the weightiness - and yet how its appeal also lay in an understated earthiness, something which recalls the simplicity of Japanese porcelain.
Steve’s meticulously crafted ceramics are made using a combination of wheel throwing and 18th century press mould techniques. He works between his studio in Enfield where he grew up, a town with a strong tradition of manufacturing and an outdoor kiln in Wales where he slips, glazes and salt fires his pots. The soft mottling effect of the salt glaze has become something of his signature finish; pouring salt into the high temperature kiln creates a dimpled ‘orange peel’ effect. All his ceramic works are shaped on a potter’s wheel, with handles and spouts cast separately and added to the pots before being biscuit fired on site.
There’s a flamboyant aspect to his work but actually the process is so down to earth, pared back. How does he imbue it with such lightness? As a designer, that’s what I try to do at Caramel.
It’s that getting back to the essence, creating something refined, sophisticated even, but that is also very layered. He has been working for 30 years and for the past 20 years he has kept only the best pieces for his archive. That really resonates. I’m a believer of the slow process, of developing something and editing it, of finding yourself through that persistent way of working and bettering whatever you are doing. I like this approach and how it might change someone’s work if you allow this slow process to take place. It’s very rare in today’s world because everything is so instantaneous. It requires a certain personality to keep going and applying that way of working.
It gives me enormous pleasure to discover someone who likes to work this way. It’s almost like perfecting something, and sometimes perfection screams because it’s so perfect.