November 27 2009
The last thing I need in my house – where every shelf and surface is spoken for – is another decorative object. But visiting The Conran Shop recently to order a replacement set of covers for my Malton sofa bed, my eye was drawn to a selection of larger-than-life, brightly coloured ceramic objects, with a contemporary Asian feel. Dotted around the furniture department like witty exclamation marks, they included an oversized, round flat vase in cheerful yellow (£695), an enormous, attention-grabbing “treebranch” teapot (£350), striking orange-coloured carved fish (pictured, from £99) and several long jars finished in striking green varnish (from £120).
Further investigation revealed the provenance of the pieces to be Asiatides, a company that sources vintage ceramics throughout Asia, gathering its objets trouvés at its atelier in Paris, where The Conran Shop’s creative director Polly Dickens hand-picks the most desirable pieces for the store. In addition to the vintage pieces, such as the green-varnished long jars, Asiatides also commissions new work under its own name, working with designers to create work inspired by Asian culture and using traditional craftsmanship.
For some projects, western artists collaborate directly with the craftsmen in situ to create decorative accessories such as the “vase with a million faces” (£195), by artist/designer Fabienne Jouvin, which looks as if it has been assembled from a patchwork of pieces. It’s always possible, as I discovered, to make space for another decorative object.