Born in Japan and raised in the UK, Kaoru Parry graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2008 with a First in ceramic design. Life.Style.etc is not at all in the least bit surprised, though, her work is wonderful. With a passion for independent potteries in Stoke-On-Trent and a talent for creating the unexpected, she established both her own brand, welovekaoru, and a boutique in London’s Shoreditch with two friends – Rheanna Lingham and Polly George – called Luna & Curious (another Livingetc favourite). She will launch a brilliant new collection inspired by ink blot tests, hand-painted in 22 carat gold, at this year’s Pulse show. Until then, she talks passionate crusades, aiming high and lindy hop.
Tell us about your studio. The studio is based behind Luna & Curious, which is part of a beautiful Victorian building. We’re also very lucky to have a gallery space within the shop that is constantly changing and being re-appropriated, so it’s a wonderful creative environment.
And, is there such a thing as your average working day? I love the diversity of my work. I could be designing a new piece late into the night, while during the day I’m sourcing new products for the store or curating the next exhibition in our gallery, whilst managing orders from buyers and customers.
Who or what inspired you to become a designer? I was deeply moved by the huge decline in ceramic manufacture in Stoke-On-Trent, and how this had affected the local businesses, but more importantly the people. So I began a passionate crusade to promote and preserve the rich heritage of the British ceramic industry by designing products that specifically feature traditional manufacturing processes. An example of this is Floret – A fine bone china tea cup embellished with handmade flowers. The industry once employed and taught hundreds of flower makers but due to the decline in manufacture, this beautiful craft is in danger of becoming lost forever. I want to create a new demand and revive this wonderful artistry.
How do you get from idea in your head to finished piece? That’s really tricky and very much depends on the design and concept. It usually requires a lot of research and development, maquettes and samples before committing to production. I have some products that have been in development for over a year!
What are you most proud of? Being able to contribute to UK manufacture and being part of the rich heritage of British ceramic industry.
How far ahead does your masterplan stretch? I was once told by a very wise tutor to ‘…be ambitious’. I’ve taken his advice quite seriously, and as they say – ‘always aim high’.
What do you hope to get out of Pulse this year? I’d like to continue to develop relationships with existing clients, press and designers but also meet new people as I’m always interested in exciting collaborations and opportunities.
Other than designing, what makes you happy? I love to lindy hop. It’s a type of swing dance from the Forties. We dress up in the best vintage outfits, style our hair and dance all night. It’s a beautiful traditional form of socialising and I love the music from that era. Although my vintage dress collection is getting rather out of hand…
How would you spend your perfect weekend? I’d sleep in until the sun wakes me, then pack a picnic and go for a walk with my husband; see an amazing exhibition then relax by the river or go to an open-air cinema.
Tell us a secret. I’ve read all the Twilight books – shhh!