Bodo Sperlein

Craft Story: Carrara Marble

Bodo Sperlein
 

'I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city or marble"

- Augustus


Located in northwest Tuscany is the Province of Massa and Carrara. Amongst the Apuan Alps is the vast landscape of Carrara's marble quarries.

 

During the Roman period, the extraction was performed manually. Utilising the natural fissures the rock offers, fig wood wedges were inserted and inflated with water until the expansion naturally developed a break from the mountain.

In the 1700's, black powder was used to mine marble. However, it was later found that the deposits of marble were greatly affected by using explosives.   

 

By the end of the 19th century helical steel wire and a pulley was used, accompanied by silica sand and a liberal amount of water this became the most efficient means of mining Carrara. It also visually changed the landscape with precisely cut steps known as Piazzali di Cava.

Carrara marble has been used since ancient times by sculptors. Its ephemeral qualities are one of its historical unique features, think of Giovanni Strazza’s 19th Century The Veiled Virgin.

 

Yuri Ancarani documents the astonishing accuracy of The Chief's direction of mining this precious natural material in this beautifully shot film.

 
 

There are several colours of Carrara marble, the cool blue-grey is the variation that inspired our Fine Bone China Carrara collection for Dibbern. Popular with acclaimed chefs such as Brett Graham and Gary Foulkes, this collection brings a little of the Tuscan Alps to your table. 

Loewe Raum: Michael Wall

Bodo Sperlein
 

Last September we worked closely with a number of leading and emerging artists for the Loewe Raum and IFA exhibition. amongst these was the abstract artist Michael Wall.

"People see completely different things [in my paintings] to what I see, but that’s the beauty of it."

- Michael Wall, Cereal Magazine

Michael is a London-based minimalist artist whose sharp eye for form and distinctive use of colour provided an impeccable addition to the Loewe Raum exhibit. Alongside Loewe Raum, his work has been used across the Loewe Bild 7 campaign.

 

You can read more about Michael and his practice in a recent interview he did with Cereal Magazine.

Made in England: Stoke-on-Trent

Bodo Sperlein
 

Bodo Sperlein has long had an affinity towards Stoke-on-Trent due to its illustrious heritage and prestigious level of artisanal ceramic craftsmanship. 

 

 

For over 250 years, Stoke-on-Trent has remained a bustling centre of ceramic production. Known as The Potteries, this area of Staffordshire has maintained its global status as leading the world in ceramic innovation, from tableware to bricks and advanced ceramic technology.

By 1800 Stoke-on-Trent was the world’s centre of pottery production. Josiah Wedgwood was a pioneering figure in the development of the canal system in Stoke-on-Trent, allowing for the transportation of raw materials and for delicate ceramics to be transported to the UK’s main shipping ports. Later with the introduction of the railway system a far more economical and quicker means of transporting goods across the country was underway. By 1848 Stoke’s own railway station was open for both public and commercial use and consequently the rate of production and delivery of ceramics increased. Stoke-on-Trent’s global reputation as an industrial powerhouse expanded and its contribution to the British economy was on a par with other northern industrial cities like Sheffield and Manchester.


As the industry grew, over a period of time the borough of Stoke-on-Trent was gradually made up of six towns. By 1910 it was declared as a city and united the towns of Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton.

At the height of Stoke-on-Trent’s industry 4,000 brick built bottle kilns were in use, taking three days for a bisque firing to reach between 1000˚C and 1250˚C. They remained to be built until the 1950s. With the introduction of the 1953 Clean Air Act, the number of coal firings reduced gradually with electric powered kilns replacing bottle kilns entirely by 1965. As an iconic symbol of the city’s landscape, today many bottle kilns are registered as listed buildings and are undergoing renovation.

Global manufacturing names Wedgwood, Churchill and Steelite remain to design and produce their ceramic collections in Stoke-on-Trent. With over 350 independent ceramic focused businesses in production in Stoke, the skill and craftsmanship of working with this incredibly dynamic material has been passed onto generations. This has profoundly contributed to paving the way for future ceramic businesses to flourish.

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Fine bone china has long been considered a quintessentially British material and has been used in Stoke-on-Trent’s ceramic production since the late 18th century. Due to the industrial revolution, the rate of the wealthy middle classes throughout the world grew and a dinner set fashionably became the hallmark of social status. Most families will have a bone china figurine or tea cup and saucer in their homes handed down through generations.

 

Porcelain and china tableware remain to be luxury items for the modern home today. Bodo Sperlein’s signature bone china White Sculptural collection is handmade in an independent dedicated ceramics workshop in Stoke-on-Trent.

 

Bodo Sperlein White Sculptural

Each piece is individually indented by hand after initially being slip-cast. Using a small tool, several of the White Sculptural pieces including the pasta plates, rice bowls and serving bowls are uniquely dimpled, allowing for each piece to be singularly marked and bear its own character.

 

Bodo Sperlein White Sculptural

The precision and time spent on creating each White Sculptural piece is testament to the craft techniques and traditional methods of making that Stoke-on-Trent prides itself on.

 

 

Celebrate Red

Bodo Sperlein
 

Last week we headed over the river to Yauatcha to celebrate Chinese New Year and the launch of Yauatcha Life’s first magazine. 

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As we made our way along the bustling streets of Soho, where Broadwick Street meets Berwick Street, the playful blue glow of Yauatcha’s interior draws intrigue without wholly revealing what’s beyond.  

Ambient red lanterns adorned Yautcha's interior, providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere on a chilly January night. We heard from a number of the individuals who have contributed to Yauatcha Life magazine. As they recalled their memories of their first experiences of Chinese food, Dim Sum and aspects of Yauatcha that have inspired their features in the magazine, delicious So (puffed pastry stuffed with bbq pork) and Shui mai were served. 

Annually printed, Yautcha LIfe offers ‘a collection of poetry, short stories, illustrations and photo essays celebrating the unique culture, tradition and heritage associated with Yauatcha.’ With contributors to the first issue including food and travel writer Gizzi Erskine, photographer Joe Woodhouse, actress and writer Vera Chok, and writer and editor of At The Table Miranda York, the publication offers a variety in observations of Chinese food culture and interpretations of Yauatcha's spirit. This edition also features an interview with Bodo Sperlein where he discusses with Miranda York his inspiration when designing tableware and the great honour he feels when working with chefs. 

 
Chefs are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about what they do and that gives you a lot of inspiration
— Bodo Sperlein

Downstairs we discovered the hubbub of Yauatcha’s kitchen. With flurries of steam and heavenly aromas filling the air, it’s hard not to become fixated with the mastered precision the chefs demonstrate in creating Yauatcha's dishes. 

In honour of Chinese calligraphy, Dutch illustrator Manolya Isik has used a brush pen to demonstrate the intricate skill of Dim Sum chefs, documenting the various stages in creating these delicious pockets of eminent flavours and various textures. Shared with friends and loved ones, Dim Sum is a symbolic part of Chinese culture: the coming together and rejoicing in one another’s company, the sharing of old and new stories, all relished over a cuisine swathed in history. This is the essence of Chinese New Year: celebrating the past and embracing new beginnings with those we hold dear.


 

In Chinese culture the colour red symbolises joy and good fortune. With this in mind, Yauatcha’s entire array of petits gateaux have been made red to celebrate Chinese New Year. From their signature Raspberry delice and Chocolate pebble desserts, to the more recent additions of Blackberry tart and Coconut lime.

Red Moutai cocktail using the traditional Chinese spirit baijiu mixed with vodka, pineapple and elderflower, delicately decorated with a dried rose bud.   

Red Moutai cocktail using the traditional Chinese spirit baijiu mixed with vodka, pineapple and elderflower, delicately decorated with a dried rose bud. 

 

Gizzi Erskine spoke of her love for the quintessentially British ritual of afternoon tea that holds Chinese roots.

Gizzi Erskine spoke of her love for the quintessentially British ritual of afternoon tea that holds Chinese roots.

2017 is the year of the fire Rooster. Those born in 1957 and 2017 are considered trustworthy and possess impeccable timekeeping skills. With their lucky numbers being five, seven and eight, and and lucky colours gold, brown and yellow.

Saturday 28th marks the beginning of Chinese New Year celebrations with the main parade taking place in central London on Sunday 29th. Events will take place until 2nd February with a number of celebrations taking place in cities up and down the country.

You can discover more of Yauatcha's New Year celebrations by following #celebratered

Bridging the gap between gallery and retail store

Bodo Sperlein
 

Concept stores have become something of a normality on our high streets today with global brands using them to launch specific new products and collections.


Despite the growing popularity of retail purchases being made at the push of a smartphone button whilst on the train or relaxing in bed, well known e-commerce stores such as Amazon recognise the importance of the physical retail experience. 


Based on a specific theme, concept stores are a unique opportunity for a retailer to attune their content to their audience, providing more of a personal shopping experience. Like a museum will carefully consider the content of exhibitions, concept stores curate their content ensuring that each object, from food to electronics, specifically conveys the character of the store and its audience. Often enough concept stores will showcase products that are exclusive to that city, sometimes even for the entire country.

A number of our tableware collections as well as the Hadron and Contour table are featured in Andreas Murkudis. Based in Berlin, Andreas Murkudis 'guides you through carefully selected collections for men and women’. Advocating for objects that are timeless in aesthetic and preferring quality over quantity, Andreas Murkudis presents traditional products that promote craftsmanship together with collections from emerging designers. By carefully hand picking every piece, since 2003 Andreas has curated a bespoke selection of honest and diverse products. 

With every object possessing its own unique narrative, concept stores allow for a product’s history and its maker’s story to be heard, a notion that becomes somewhat lost in large high street and department stores. With a considered and minimal interior there’s less room for distraction, allowing people to become more engaged in the items they are viewing, much like art pieces displayed in a gallery. 

Here’s some stores to check out

The Stores, Berlin
The Broken Arm, Paris
LN-CC, London
 

 

Craft Story: Wood

Bodo Sperlein
 

Invariably designing with carefully selected materials is at the forefront of our design ethos. Our Contour furniture and TANE silver and wood collection beautifully illustrates the individual grain qualities of Oak and Black Walnut woods.

Inspired by the 18th century Art Nouveau movement whereby Japanese art was prized as a major influence for its simplicity and clean lines, the Contour furniture advocates age-old materials using British fumed oak and American black walnut wood. 

Acclaimed for its exceedingly strong and durable qualities, Oak is a traditional hard wood generally associated with geometric forms. The Contour collection challenges this perception by demonstrating a unique combination of traditional methods of making and modern day technology. By constructing individual wood components, the Contour collection presents an unexpected fluidity to a time-honoured material. 


Prized for its natural resistance to insects and decay, Black Walnut’s unique colour and grain patterns are an exceptional material to design with. It’s unique qualities are strikingly contrasted by the highly reflective properties of silver in our TANE collection.  

 


Did you know An Oak tree can only produce acorns once it has reached 40 years old.

The Oak wood is fumed with ammonia which reacts with the tannin in the Oak, darkening the appearance and revealing the unique pattern of the wood. 

The Contour collection is also available in Black Walnut and Douglas Fir with a Shou-Sugi-Ban finish. 

Shou-Sugi-Ban is the Japanese art of burning timber, literally translating to “burnt cedar board”. Also known as Yakisugi, this particular method of charring has been popular with Japanese carpenters for centuries and has recently gained a resurge in popularity particularly in the west with designers, carpenters and architects.

Originally Japanese cedar wood was used for Shou-Sugi-Ban finishes, today it’s more common for Western Red Cedar and Southern Cypress to be used.  

By burning the surface, a carbon layer is produced that is protective from fire, rot and pests. With an expected life span of 80 years it’s little surprise that Shou-Sugi-Ban is an acclaimed method of cladding for buildings all over the world.

There’s a number of videos on the internet demonstrating the method and results of Shou-Sugi-Ban, here’s a favourite of ours.


Contour Andreas Murkudis

For more information about our contour range and for any bespoke enquiries please contact sales@bodosperlein.com
 

12 Plates of Christmas

Bodo Sperlein

To celebrate the 12 days of Christmas this year, we are taking a look at our favourite restaurants that use our tableware. Follow us on Instagram to see our daily serving!


1. The Square, Phil Howard 

Goldline Plate

www.squarerestaurant.com

 

2. Pied A Terre

White Sculptural Plate

www.pied-a-terre.co.uk

3. The Ledbury

Carrara Plate

www.theledbury.com

4. HKK, Chef Tong

Blossom Bowls

www.hkklondon.com

 5. Manchester House, Aiden Byrne

Black Forrest Plate

www.manchesterhouse.uk.com

6. Yauatcha

Macaroon Plate

www.yauatcha.com

7. Dabbous

White Sculptural Oval Lip Tray

www.dabbous.co.uk

8. Trinity

Blossom Plate

www.trinityrestaurant.co.uk

9. Angler

Black Forrest Plate

www.anglerrestaurant.com

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10. The Five Fields 

Golden Forrest Plate

www.fivefieldsrestaurant.com

11. Le Champignon Sauvage

White Sculptural Plate

www.lechampignonsauvage.co.uk

12. Sake No Hana

Macaroon Lidded Box

www.sakenohana.com

Craft Story: Silver

Bodo Sperlein

Perhaps it is the primal affinity we have with silver due to it being amongst the first five metals to be discovered, or maybe it’s the highly reflective qualities that have long made silver an opulent material for jewellery and to decorate our homes.

 
 

If a family moved or were displaced during social upheaval, they knew that if they took their silver with them, they could survive.

- Bodo Sperlein, Founder & Creative Director


First mined in Anatolia around 3000 B.C., throughout antiquity silver was a vital resource for the communities in Near East, Crete and Greece.  Between 1500 and 1800, Mexico, Bolivia and Peru accounted for over 85% of the world’s silver production and trade. Known for its antibacterial qualities, it is little surprise that historically silver has been a choice material for drinking and dining vessels. This incredibly versatile material remains to play a significant role in our daily lives, from electronic switches to water filtration and currencies, and even as bearing coatings for joint implants.

With soldering temperatures of 593° to 871°C, great skill and precision is required when working with silver. Turn any piece of silver over and the story of the object in your hand can be told. The hallmark will tell you its geographical origin, the manufacturer and in some cases the individual maker’s mark. 

For more than half a century the Mexican heritage silver brand TANE have designed and produced the highest quality of silver items. Founded in the 1940’s by Russian husband and wife, José and Rosa Vilner fled Paris during WWII and settled in Mexico City. It is here that they opened a leather goods and antiques store. Under the direction of their son, Pedro Leites Vilner, TANE began to acquire a cult destination status from the 1960s onwards. A luxury stop-off for the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Catherine Deneuve, Oscar de la Renta and international royalty, the TANE brand quickly expanded to silver production and established its own dedicated workshops. 


Traditionally an indicator of a household’s wealth and social status, today silver is notably more subtle in our homes. Despite silver experiencing somewhat of a lull in popularity in the last forty years, a growing interest in handcrafted pieces that tell an authentic story has resulted in an upsurge in sales and interest in historical brands like Tiffany and Faberge. Much like our ancestors, we require the silverware that we purchase to hold its value over time. With younger buyers being the most environmentally conscious of generations, the longevity of the materials utilised in the objects we buy are of great significance. 

TANE’s silversmiths train for five years before becoming qualified, a testament to the skill and precision required to work with silver. It is the extensive history and recognition of skill that appealed the most to Bodo when he was approached by TANE to design a silverware collection. Combining the highly reflective qualities of silver with recinto volcanic stone and Mexican dark walnut wood make for a vivid statement piece for any contemporary interior. 

 

 

With Bodo Sperlein’s passion for so-called old fashioned materials, an early project with Swarovski introduced Bodo to working with this historical medium. Our silverware collections for TANE have been designed to challenge the preconceived ideas of silver, bringing an injection of modernity and a ceremonial value to our daily dining.

Shop our TANE silverware 

 
These pieces are contemporary heirlooms, and I would hope that they will be treasured by a new generation interested in longevity and authenticity.
— Bodo Sperlein