November 25 2009
Nothing makes me want something more badly than being told that I cannot have it. It was such a declaration of denial at Liberty about five years ago that made me instantly fall in love with the beautiful white crockery of French pottery label Astier de Villatte. I was trying to order eight matching dinner plates. I use the term “matching” loosely because each piece is thrown by hand and bears the unique marks and accompanying flaws of the artisan who crafted it. And the answer from the salesperson was no, because this is a company that does not take orders like regular retail folk. It produces what it wants, when it wants, in whatever quantities happen to take its particular fancy, with store deliveries as irregular and arbitrary as each of the misshapen plates that I so earnestly desired.
Half a decade later, I do indeed have a perfectly mismatching set of plates, having travelled to the Paris store to procure them. I also own three large jugs, a small selection of serving platters, a not-at-all practical bonbonniere and a pair of totally quirky cups and saucers that look as if they came from the set of Alice in Wonderland. And I adore every single misshapen, flawed and irregular one of them as passionately as if I had thrown them myself.
Typical prices: cups from £34.95, plates from £34.95, bowls from £29.95.