Around 1998, when architect Ernö Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower in west London was Grade II listed, modernist and brutalist buildings swung back into vogue after years in the cultural wilderness. One of their most fervent fans is the company People Will Always Need Plates, co-founded by Hannah Dipper and Robin Farquhar in 2004. The firm’s bone-china plates featuring graphic images of such iconic buildings as Trellick Tower and Battersea Power Station in both monochrome and punchy shades like pea green and crimson were an instant hit. “We were simply indulging our love of modernism and brutalism, yet our designs grabbed the imagination of others,” recalls Dipper.
Fittingly, the duo are celebrating their 10th anniversary in business with a new body of limited-edition work, created in collaboration with London’s Vessel gallery, the first place to stock their designs in 2004. This will go on show first at the pop-up exhibition Midcentury at Loud & Western in Fulham (from September 5 to 7), then at another, Ten by Two, at Vessel, Kensington (September 11 to October 11).
For their new collection, which comprises of two designs, Dipper and Farquhar have eschewed bone china in favour of vitreous enamel and spun steel in the form of generously sized bowls made by two highly specialist British companies – metal-spinning firm Artec Engineering and vitreous-enamel manufacturer AJ Wells & Sons.
The first design features stacking bowls in a variety of radiantly rich colourways whose hues become more intense as the bowls get smaller (£2,250 per set, third picture). The second consists of single wall-mounted or tabletop bowls (priced from £1,000 to £1,700), which bear motifs inspired by artists and architects. A clue to this lies in their names, which include After Elsworth (as in Kelly, first picture) or After Bridget (Riley, second picture).
While the designers’ plates, which bore literal representations of buildings, were very much of the moment, the new bowls promise to have a more enduring appeal since their plain colours and abstract motifs are comparatively timeless.