Setting up her own studio in the idyllic Belgian countryside, Olivia Deblaere spills all about her boutique and bespoke ceramics business.
What initially started as a hobby quickly became a full-time business for Olivia Deblaere. After developing and perfecting her pottery skills at London’s Turning Earth Studio, Olivia returned home to Belgium to set up her own ceramics studio in the idyllic countryside of East Flanders. Focusing on the creation of minimalistic pieces with an earthy characteristic, Olivia’s ceramics embrace simplicity and imperfection. Each piece, although completely unique and carries the maker’s touch and aesthetic, staying true to her brand ethos of rustic minimalism. Still very much present on the London ceramic scene, we had the chance to sit down with Olivia at her studio and ask her all about her future plans for the business.
Olivia, how did you initially get interested in ceramics?
From a young age, I developed a passion for crafts and loved to work with my hands, but it was only about four years ago that I started to experiment with clay. Initially, it was the calmness and freedom that the clay gave me which attracted me to start a ceramics course after work.
When did you decide to turn your interest in ceramics into a full-time business?
After a year of developing my ceramics skills during evening courses, I decided to quit my full-time corporate job, which was a very impulsive decision but one which made me very happy. I took on a part-time job within the creative field as a gallery assistant at Maud & Mabel, a lovely ceramic art gallery in Hampstead – that ended up being the best choice I could have made. I met lovely people in the ceramic art world, evolved my knowledge of ceramic art in general and it also provided me with the freedom to work on my own ceramics journey.
How did you develop your pottery skills?
I first started taking evening courses in ceramics but soon realised that two hours a week simply wasn’t enough. That was when I began to look for a full-time potter to teach me the beautiful craft, and I ended up finding a lovely studio in West Hampstead which belonged to the ceramics artist Chris Bramble. He took the time to teach me all things pottery and after six months of training at his studio I decided to become an in-production member at the Turning Earth Studio in Walthamstow – there I rented a space in a ceramic community studio which was a fantastic and inspiring opportunity, as I was surrounded by great artists and potters. It was only this year that I felt I was ready to open my own studio in Belgium.
In three words, how would you describe the aesthetics behind your designs?
Free, light and uncomplicated.
What was the biggest challenge in starting your own business?
The sales and marketing side! I’m quite a shy person and so I prefer to stay in my own studio – my comfort zone. It was a territory that didn’t come naturally to me, however, I do know that it is a crucial component to be able to showcase your work to the public. I tried to work on this aspect by participating in a lot of markets and pop-up events that allowed me to step outside of this comfort zone.
Do you take inspiration from your Belgian roots in your designs and collections?
My inspiration comes mostly from the beauty I find in eroded materials of nature but also in old buildings. Light colours especially attract me, such as different shades of whites, pinks, blues and greens. My work mostly sticks to these colours as they give me a feeling of freedom, happiness and calmness.
As a ceramic designer, how do you see the art developing in the next decade?
I believe that more and more people appreciate the old craft even more and look for more authenticity and original pieces in their home; therefore, people would rather buy handmade tableware and art objects with a story of a local maker attached to the piece. So, I believe it’s a movement rather than a trend.