The Making of Coves of Cornwall – a unique collaboration

Entered 7 November 2017

Dieneke Ferguson

2017 has definitely been the year of design collaborations. Great collaborations linking designers with those that have access to materials, markets or specific skills. By joining forces and combining all the skills these collaborations often have led to amazing results. Hidden Art is very interested in collaborations and in the past Hidden Art have run Hidden Art Select, a product development programme, which selects the best ideas from designer-makers and helps with transforming them into products.

One of such successful and exciting collaborations has been between Blisshome, Rick Stein and Falmouth University. This is not only because of the wide range of skills on which it draws but also because Hidden Art in the past has worked with Falmouth University and design consultants (Robin Farquhar and Hannah Dipper) that were part of the Blisshome team.

Rick Stein Coves of Cornwall Tableware

Rick Stein Coves of Cornwall Tableware

Rick Stein is the famous seafood chef and restaurateur who owns restaurants in Cornwall and has written cookery books and presented television programmes.

Blisshome was set up in 1978 and was founded and run by Mike and Gabrielle Bliss. They design, manufacture and distribute a wide range of products for the contemporary home, both their own products as well as complementary ranges. They are also well known for their licensing collaborations that include Rick Stein, Donna Wilson, Emily Bond, Orla Kiely, Nigella Lawson, London Underground, Joules, Hairy Bikers, Vintage by Hemingway, Takahashi Hiroko and others.

Rick Stein invited Blisshome to design a tabletop collection that Rick felt came from the heart and was relevant to him and his surroundings, the Cornish land and seascape.

Coves of Cornwall. Jug Daymer Bay, Rick Stein

Coves of Cornwall. Jug Daymer Bay, Rick Stein

This collaboration resulted in a competition of final year design students at Falmouth University, Cornwall. Students came from across different disciplines and were asked to design a range for Rick with a clear brief. Students entered from different courses including illustration, print, product design, textiles etc. The 35 entries were narrowed down to a final 5 for closer consideration and the top 3 were awarded cash prizes.

At the time of judging Rick said

“It was a great experience working with students from Falmouth University who took on the project with enormous enthusiasm and professionalism. I was very impressed with the quality of everything submitted, so much so that actually it was very hard to choose a winner”.

The Falmouth University designers are Heidi May Summerbell, Francesca Rowe, Daria Martyn, Sophie Rawe and Becky Thorbes. The winning entry was developed over 9 months into a commercial range and the whole process in total took 18 months.

The last stage involved the skills of artist Amy Brockesly and design consultants Robin Farguhar and Hannah Dipper through Blisshome. Amy repainted all the coves in watercolour so that they were all accurate and all had the same feeling and colour palette and showed the depth and colour variations in the sea. Robin then reworked and applied the cove artwork to the ceramic forms and developed the packaging.

The end result was a beautiful range of ceramics, coves of Cornwall which is inspired by the Cornish land and seascape. The Coves from north Cornwall, included Daymer Bay, Porthilly, Trevone Bay, Harlyn, Constantine Bay, Hawker’s Cove, Treyarnon and St George’s Cove.

Coves of Cornwall - Dinner Plates - Constantine Bay, Rick Stein

Coves of Cornwall – Dinner Plates – Constantine Bay, Rick Stein

The clean design and form of bone china complement the subtly changing shades of each cove resulting in a unique and highly collectible range of coastal tableware.

Robin Farquhar and Hannah Dipper are no strangers to Hidden Art. They participated in Hidden Art Select 2010 and created Your Placemat or Mine a set of 4 placemats and coasters.

Falmouth University (Then called University College Falmouth) ran Hidden Art Cornwall which was launched in 2005 and aimed to create a stronger profile for designer-makers in the region and further afield.

The Coves of Cornwall collaboration is so special as it meets all the criteria for a collaboration to be successful.

Coves of Cornwall - Harlyn Bay Mugs, Rick Stein

Coves of Cornwall – Harlyn Bay Mugs, Rick Stein

Mike Bliss, founder of Blisshome, summarises the criteria for a collaboration to be successful as follows:

“First we need to get on with the principal and trust each other. Secondly, we have to drill down the principal’s DNA to find out what is important to them and their sense of aesthetics and practical values so we can interpret this into products that are consistent with the principal. This gives the final product an honesty and integrity that makes consumers want to buy into the brand and person. It’s a little bit of Rick Stein they are buying. “

Coves of Cornwall

Coves of Cornwall - Dinner Plates - Constantine Bay, Rick Stein

Coves of Cornwall – Dinner Plates – Constantine Bay, Rick Stein

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