The Journal | #Fortnums

The Piccadilly Teapot

'It’s very rare that a ceramic object has to perform such a specific and intricate task'

An Interview with Matthew Warner

We recently joined London-based designer Matthew Warner in the heart of the potteries, Stoke-on-Trent, to see our newest pot in production and to discover the design details and process into creating the Piccadilly Teapot.

We set Matthew the challenge of creating a teapot which was striking and guaranteed to pour the perfect cup of tea. Quite the task, we wanted something unlike anything else on the Great Wall of Teapots... See this spectacular on First Floor, Piccadilly.

Graduating in 2012, Matthew studied ceramics at Camberwell College of Art and has become one of the UKs most exciting potters. Known for his hand thrown tableware, Matthew’s pieces are always beautifully refined. The Piccadilly Teapot's modern lines make it innovative yet timeless. You could say this is ‘the’ Fortnum’s teapot.

What is the essence of a good teapot?

'The foremost important aspect of any teapot is its functionality; it’s very rare that a ceramic object has to perform such a specific and intricate task as brewing and pouring tea. The architectonic design of a teapot is unbelievably complex. Achieving a well-balanced teapot that pours well, is comfortable to use, and holds the temperature of the tea is not an easy thing to do, yet all of these things are all crucial parts of the design. The body of the pot must hold sufficient liquid without spilling from the spout or losing temperature due to excessive surface area; the handle must be comfortable to use, not pressing your hand against the hot body of the teapot and not be too large or cumbersome; and the spout must project an elegant stream of tea and most crucially- not dribble. All of this has to be considered before the aesthetic design can be addressed.'

'A teapot is unbelievably complex'

What was your starting point and inspiration for the Piccadilly Teapot?

'My starting point for the Piccadilly Teapot was exploring the antique Georgian silver teapots that are for sale in Fortnum’s. Looking through the various examples on offer I noticed that not one of them was circular when viewed from above, they were all elongated octagons or oblong.

When discussing the design with Fortnum & Mason we found ourselves repeatedly drawn back to one of my own teapot shapes, the one with the angular handle. My teapots are all circular because they are thrown on the wheel. All of my work is inspired by the work of Wedgwood, specifically from within Josiah Wedgwood’s lifetime (1730-1795). As a studio potter who works on the pottery wheel, it provided a very interesting opportunity for me to explore the possibilities of industrial production, much in the way Josiah Wedgwood moved from the wheel to moulded ceramics.

The Piccadilly Teapot infuses my work and love of historical ceramics with Fortnum's Georgian beginnings, in what I see as a modern take on a classical design the has the elegance and presence of a neoclassical form reinterpreted with modern lines and simplicity of form.'

The Piccadilly Teapot
The Piccadilly Teapot
The Piccadilly Teapot

The Piccadilly Teapot feels very modern – do you think it will appeal to a new tea-drinking audience?

'I hope that the Piccadilly teapot will in some small way help extend the understanding of the UK’s incredible ceramic history, and perhaps inspire people to learn more about one of the most interesting industrial and artistic parts of our manufacturing heritage. The Piccadilly teapot offers everything a teapot needs to have while maintaining a distinct character with a quietly playful form that utilises modern lines and simplicity of form.'

'The teapot has a real character, and refuses to go unnoticed'

What makes the Piccadilly Teapot the Fortnum's teapot?

'It may be presumptuous to say, but I think the Piccadilly Teapot is in keeping with Fortnum’s luxurious brand, however it offers something entirely different from the other tea wares in store.

The teapot has a real character, and refuses to go unnoticed. I’m very pleased to say that this comes with no loss of function. Having worked very closely with the mould-makers and the factory team in Stoke-on-Trent we have managed to produce a superbly functional teapot, which many would not have attempted to produce in bone chine due to the deceptive complexity of the form.

... [It] is a clear demonstration of Fortnum’s determination to pioneer new styles and technology in order to offer something both affordable and unmistakably special.'

The Piccadilly Teapot
The Piccadilly Teapot
The Piccadilly Teapot

The Piccadilly Teapot