Covent Garden Backstage: Lulu Loves

In March 2020 Lulu Guinness opened the doors to their flagship store on King Street in Covent Garden. With a ceiling inspired by pearls and a mix of bespoke and vintage furniture, the space provided the perfect home for our collection of handbags and accessories. But founder Lulu had bigger dreams.

“As well as having all our beautiful new bags we wanted to use the space to promote female makers and artists that I loved or already owned some pieces by,” she says. And so our newest passion project, titled ‘Lulu Loves’, was born. For much of this year Lulu has been working with potter Katrin Moye, paper artist and sculptor Liz Valenti and restorer Amy Douglas on a collection of bespoke pieces that are now available to purchase exclusively in store. We chatted to all three ladies about the process!

Katrin Lulu Guinness (3)

Meet Katrin

“I fell in love with the work of Katrin and ordered a couple of one-offs from her last year,” says Lulu, who originally discovered Lulu’s work in Ledbury store Tinsmiths. “The level of craftsmanship blew me away and that was why I am so thrilled Katrin has made a small collection of jugs especially for our shop.  They are complete one-offs! She is a true artist.” Here Katrin tells us about working with Lulu on the design process, tips for looking after her pieces and what it is that she loves about pottery.

What was the idea behind the design?

Lulu’s vision for the King Street store was to use the jugs as vases filled with flowers. So I knew that flower motifs would be perfect for the jugs.  I also saw some vintage Lulu pieces online with little bows on them and was charmed by this idea so some of the jugs feature bows. Lulu sent me a copy of her ‘LG’ handwritten initials to work from, and these can be found as repeating motifs on the jugs.

What is it about the process that you love and how long have you been doing this for?

I’ve been working as a studio potter since 2004. One thing I particularly love is the versatility of the medium.  And that exquisitely detailed and delicate shapes can be produced from such a humble basic material – it all starts with a bag of clay that has literally come out of the ground.

Where do you hope these pieces end up?

I hope they are going to become part of the everyday surroundings in peoples’ homes, either in use or on display, but that they become part of the family of used and loved objects everybody has that they associate with their home.

Any tips for looking after them?

They are all completely waterproof so can definitely be used as opposed to just admired!  The tall narrow necks make them ideal for holding flowers.  I would recommend hand washing them in warm soapy water rather than putting them in the dishwasher. The clay and techniques I use mean that they are on the delicate side as they are fired at quite a low temperature – they can chip relatively easily, so watch out for the spouts, lips and edges when handling them.

Any advice for people wanting to get into pottery themselves?

Even if you don’t have a natural affinity for throwing on the wheel, you can still make fantastic things very easily, such as different shapes for Christmas tree decorations cut out from a flat piece of clay, for example.  And it’s masses of fun even at the beginner level so don’t take it too seriously to start with, just enjoy it and go from there!

“As well as having all our beautiful new bags we wanted to use the space to promote female makers and artists that I loved or already owned some pieces by”

Liz Lulu Guinness (1) (1)

Meet Liz

“I have become obsessed with all types of paper art this year,” says Lulu, of discovering Sticky Paper Studios, owned and operated by Liz Valenti. “When I saw the Tunnock’s tea cake shoes and gloves I wanted to put them in our shop to give Liz the recognition she deserves with these exquisitely made pieces. I hope everyone enjoys these as much as me!” Here Liz tells us about the design process, the importance of sustainability in her work and how many Tunnock’s tea cakes she imagines might have been eaten in her house!

Could you tell us about the design and production process?

I had come across Tunnock’s tea cakes foil wrappers some time ago when I was using them to make crowns to wear at home for Christmas. I just love the shine of the foil & the strong graphic design. I really cannot remember quite how the shoes came about - I was just playing around.

What is it about the process that you love and how long have you been doing this for?

I have been working in paper for over 10 years. I love paper - all the varieties & weights - softness & crispness. Previously I made clothes in paper based on travels & visits to museums.

Where do you hope these pieces end up?

As a maker all you can do is hope that what you love is enjoyed by someone who appreciates your work.

How important is sustainability to you? 

Both the pairs of shoes & the gloves are made from papers which would otherwise be binned. The base paper is industrial waste which I get from a big recycling warehouse & we all throw away our teacake wrappers, don’t we? Well, I don’t! Part of the enjoyment is the idea that I’m making something glamourous out of rubbish.

How many Tunnock’s tea cakes do you think you’ve eaten in your time?

I & my long suffering family will forever associate lockdown with the consumption of Tunnock’s tea cakes. It hasn’t all been bad, you know!

Lulu Loves (2)
Lulu Loves (4)
Amy Lulu Guinness (1)

Meet Amy

“I wanted to also include this wonderful piece from Amy. I hope to have more from her in the future,” says Lulu of restorer Amy Douglas, the artist behind ‘Poodle Love’. “Her titles make me laugh out loud and I adore the surrealness of her work. With, of course, the same extremely high level of craftsmanship.” Here Amy tells us about her unique work and the challenges of being a female artist.

Could you talk us through the design of the artwork? What was the inspiration?

I work as a restorer and making small sculptures from broken ceramics was a natural progression. Where a figurine is broken dictates what I can do, I do not break anything on purpose. It is a project of serendipity and gives the figure a new and often surreal narrative. For example, Poodle Love was given to me and their tails had broken off.

How long have you been doing this kind of work for and what do you love about it?

I have been working on this project for 8 years, it takes time to find the right broken object. I love the fact each piece is utterly unique as no figurine breaks in the same place. So, each work has a new story which can lead to all sorts of research.  I love folklore, myths, politics and soundbites I hear on the bus. The randomness of things for inspiration really.

Lulu Loves is about championing female creatives, what does that mean to you?

I think us female makers and artists spin an awful lot of plates. If you have children and other work commitments your time for developing your visual language is precious and often has to be put on hold. I think what is not understood in the world of Pinterest and Instagram, is that often people’s pieces have been years in the making with thought and a honed skill. It’s not just bashed out. The fragmentation of practice is the norm for female creatives, which can be frustrating as it seems to take an age to get somewhere with it. Therefore, to have an established bastion of design like Lulu shout out and recognise the skill and talent of other female makers is so encouraging and appreciated. It encourages others to share the love.