deVOLfolk: Claire’s Story

Posted on July 21st, 2016 by

We are so excited to welcome brand new team member, Claire, to the deVOL clan. I thought it would be really nice for my next deVOLfolk blog to introduce you to our new ceramicist who’ll be working on a gorgeous new collection for deVOL…and it was the perfect excuse for me to get to know her a little better too.

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Claire exploring Barcelona

C L A I R E    F O W L E R

C E R A M I C I S T

A keen eye for design and a real skill for making the most beautiful ceramics has already seen Claire win the prestigious runners up prize at the New Designers exhibition in London, and land a job as deVOL’s latest ceramicist months before she even ordered her graduation gown. Claire’s laid back ambition is admirable, after such an impressive start to the year she doesn’t show an ounce of arrogance, just the will to learn more about something that she is clearly truly passionate about. We’ve been selling Claire’s amazing work at Cotes Mill for some time and absolutely cannot wait to see where her creativity and drive take her when she starts full time at deVOL this summer.

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A display of Claire’s beautiful ceramics at the New Designers Awards 

Firstly, congratulations on winning the New Designers runner up prize! Can you tell us a little bit about your project?

Thank you, I was so over the moon to be awarded a prize at such a huge event! My project focused on creating a range of functional ceramic ware for the home that explored coloured clay and simple forms. Using oxides to stain the clay, I was able to create colour co-ordinated pieces for use in the kitchen and at the table. The project was sort of a prototype collection of objects that I hope to carry on making when I start working at deVOL, who were incredibly kind to buy me a potter’s wheel to go in my room at Uni, so I could work whenever I wanted to on the project!

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Claire celebrating her graduation at Loughborough University 

How did you get into ceramics?

When I started my course, I was actually completely uninterested in ceramics – I was dead set on making it as a furniture or lighting designer… How things change! It wasn’t until the first day of my second year that I asked my tutor, Ben, to show me how to throw on the potter’s wheel and basically the rest is history! I was pretty bad when I started, but it didn’t bother me, I was hooked. After a few more days of trying to throw, I began watching YouTube videos for tips and tricks and just kept practising and practising until I could make the shapes I was drawing in my sketchbooks. It took me the whole of my second year to get confident with throwing various forms but my interest in colour and the need to glaze my work properly didn’t take off until my final year, that’s when I began my research into coloured clay.

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Claire Barbecuing at home

You have done pieces with lots of other materials too. Is ceramics the direction that you want to focus on from now on or do you see yourself continuing in different fields of design too?

I’m pretty sure I’ll be sticking with ceramics for now but I’m working on getting better and better as I go, I’ve still got a lot to learn and I think working in an environment like deVOL can only make me a better designer. I love the combination of ceramics and wood though, so I’m really excited to plan some projects that involve using a mixture of these materials.

What excites you most about starting at deVOL?

The people, the location, the ever growing animal farm… it’s pretty dreamy for a first job straight out of university! What I’m most excited about though, is doing a job that I actually really love with a creative and passionate company that are so inspiring and supportive of young designers.

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Claire overlooking beautiful Barcelona

So when you’re not at the potter’s wheel, how do you like to while away an afternoon?

If it’s sunny, then I love being outdoors – preferably on a beach! I managed to fit in a little holiday to Barcelona using some of the prize money from New Designers, which was just gorgeous! It’s a beautiful city and the tapas is just to die for… I’d definitely recommend it to any fellow foodies!  I’ve also just moved into a new flat and I’m feeling like the biggest grown up ever! It’s pretty scary but it’s been so exciting settling in, I’m really enjoying spending time making it my own little space.

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More of Claire’s lovely ceramics displayed at Cotes Mill 

This summer you’ll find Claire pottering around our ceramics studio at our Cotes Mill showrooms, it’s a really lovely little space with a big old vintage kiln and lots of beautiful inspiration from our resident ceramicists Ed and Hannah. You can sit at the potter’s wheel and watch the comings and goings of Cotes Mill life, designers and makers wandering around amongst Peacocks and Guinea Fowl, it really is a very unique place to work.

– To see more of Claire’s beautiful designs, check out her Instagram here.

 

A day at the Mill, Part 2: Exploring the showrooms & grounds

Posted on July 19th, 2016 by

After all of the excitement of the beautiful new deVOL Ceramic Sinks, I went for a wander up into the wonderful showrooms. It definitely wouldn’t be a visit to Cotes Mill without having a little peek at all of the new gifts and antiques that are dotted so thoughtfully around the old floors of this building.

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deVOL has been known for its kitchens for such a long time, but we are now getting quite a reputation for all of the other things we sell too. We have visitors from all over the country who will travel up here on the train, or drive down for a family day out, to check out our latest vintage products and gifts and homewares, it’s pretty cool.

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And it’s really really important to us that we offer something special and something different, we don’t just want to sell anything you might find on the high street. We love to offer products that have been handmade locally by lovely people. Those cute little ‘Herons‘ wooden spoons in the picture below are handcrafted in Leicestershire by a lady called Sophie, each piece is made using traditional woodworking tools, sanded smooth and finished with homemade beeswax and mineral oil balm. They make the coolest gifts.

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We also like to offer items that are produced in other countries by really talented people who specialise in a particular craft. For instance, our Izola candles are made in America by a New York design company. They are not the cheapest candles but the styling and smell is unbeatable. We had one of these candles burning on our Clerkenwell Design Week stand, so many people came in and said how they’d fallen in love with our Sebastian Cox Kitchen … but more importantly they just had to know what the smell was!! Well, it was a lovely Izola candle.

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And we love books and journals so much! I was very excited to have a flick through all of the new additions… we have a couple of big old refectory tables covered in a beautiful and eclectic mix of books. There is something for nearly everyone too; interior and style books filled with the most dreamy photography, children’s books with a theme of beautiful illustrations and some of the best cookery books.

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We also source antiques from all over the world, and the fact that our customers can buy these beautiful antique pieces alongside their deVOL Kitchen is something so special and so unusual. I absolutely love that big old cupboard in the photo below, imagine it in your kitchen filled with all of your pantry essentials… or even in a boot room to store shoes and boots and bags.

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And probably one of the best things; fresh eggs from our very own deVOL chickens. These eggs are the brightest yellow, tastiest eggs you can buy and trust me, your scrambled eggs will never be the same… I didn’t even know scrambled eggs could taste that good!

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Ok this blog is getting really really long now, but I thought I’d quickly show you a couple of photos of our Sebastian Cox and Air Kitchen showrooms at Cotes Mill, as they’ve changed a little since the last time I saw them, and maybe since the last time you saw them too…

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This beautiful Pantry Cupboard sits just next to the steps which lead up to the kitchen design office on the top floor of the Mill. And the beautiful new island sits right in the centre, how awesome are those woven back panels!?

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A very proud display of the awards The Sebastian Cox Kitchen has achieved so far…

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And then into the stunning Air Kitchen showroom where a beautiful wall of windows span the whole of one side and flood this big space with the most beautiful light, even on a cloudy day…

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It’s my dream to go to LA and I’m kind of obsessed with the thought of it at the moment… so I particularly love the newly renovated Air Kitchen showroom with its bold pink walls and completely Californian cool vibe.

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It’s a bohemian paradise, with big patterned cushions and pretty vintage throws sitting on old metal day beds, plants and greenery and palms everywhere, collections of random books and mismatched bits and bobs and things for your home. It’s perfect and I love it.

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This is a place for our customers to come and chill out. Sophie is often pottering around making fresh coffee for everybody, and if you’re lucky she might even be baking one of her delicious cakes.

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And finally down our incredible limestone staircase and into the Mill grounds.

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Getting to see all of the animals and especially all of the baby animals was probably the bit I was most excited about.

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The cygnets have grown up so much, they’re funny little things… not quite as cute as they used to be!

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It was soooo hard to get a picture of the deer!! They took me on a run around of the grounds, I walked over to them and just as I was about to get a photo they would run and skip and bounce over to the other side of their enclosure. This happened a good few times before I managed to snatch a quick shot of them. The little fawns are too pretty for words and are getting a little bit more adventurous by the day.

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I loved my day at Cotes Mill, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look into Mill life too. Even if you’re not in the market for a new kitchen, Cotes Mill is so worth a visit.

– For opening times & how to find us, please click here.

A day at the Mill, Part 1: The first deVOL Ceramic Sinks

Posted on July 18th, 2016 by

It’s always such a treat going back to work at Cotes Mill for the day, and every time I go I kind of forget just how special it is there. And maybe if you’ve never visited the Mill you might not realise how special it is either. So, last Friday I made sure to pack my camera and take lots of photos of all of the gorgeousness and all of the newness happening at the Mill to share with you in this blog.

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The first thing I have to show you are our brand new deVOL Ceramic Sinks, made by Ed in our very own ceramics studio. You may remember Paul’s ‘wall of shame’ blog a little while ago… well after rather a lot of failed attempts and a lot of learning, Ed finally did it!

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Ed has made four totally beautiful and totally unique sinks, some are slip cast, where the sink is set in a mould, and others are slab built, where the clay slabs are joined together before the sink is fired in the kiln. Each sink is different and so full of character and charm, their little quirks and imperfections are what make them so special.

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What a lovely thing to do… pop into Cotes Mill and handpick your very own and completely unique sink. Whether you’re having one of our kitchens or not, a deVOL sink will make a seriously cool addition to any home.

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I think my favourite bit is their beautiful crackled finish. These cracks actually appear naturally in the clay, it’s just what happens in the firing process, but typically they would be invisible. We loved the little cracks and lines and shapes though, and didn’t want them to be hidden away behind a perfect shiny white glaze. So Ed washed the sinks with a dark stain and then quickly wiped it off, revealing the most beautiful, organic finish.

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We have totally fallen in love with our new sinks, and really hope you love the look of them too. If you’re interested in purchasing one of our sinks or would like some more information please do pop into the showroom, call us on 01509 261000 or email enquiries@devolkitchens.co.uk. Each sink varies slightly in size and are all priced between £350 and £450.

Next I went up to explore the showrooms and check out all of the lovely new antiques and gifts and homewares, but I don’t want this blog to be superrr long, so tomorrow I’ll post part 2, see you then!

 

deVOLfolk: Helen’s Story

Posted on July 14th, 2016 by

You may have seen my very first deVOLfolk blog about our lovely London Showroom Manager, Emily. Well, next up we have our super talented and incredibly cool Creative Director, Helen…

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Helen on the first day our London showroom opened

H E L E N    P A R K E R

C R E A T I V E   D I R E C T O R

An incredible knack for predicting trends and the ability to move a few pieces and change the whole look and feel of a room are skills that saw Helen work her way up to be appointed Creative Director of deVOL in 2011. I’m actually lucky enough to have known Helen since I was a kid. My childhood is speckled with memories of her amazing cooking, camping holidays on the beach and the occasional wine fuelled evening dancing with her and her sisters. It’d be hard to come across someone more laid back than Helen, she completely embodies deVOL’s effortlessly cool style that she continues to help create. From styling the showrooms and photoshoots, to creating brand new pieces, to training new designers, Helen has had a huge part to play in deVOL’s success and is an integral part of its future.

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Helen styling the cabin at Cotes Mill for its first shoot

What’s the latest trend that you’re most excited about?

Well, I recently went to a Smeg launch and there was a Dolce and Gabbana designed fridge. The D&G theme for this autumn/winter is Sicilian folk art and by pure chance I had just been watching a programme on the very subject, crazy colours, horses, tradition, fashion, all the things I love in a beautiful Mediterranean country full of passionate people who love life and food. I need to go to Palermo I think, definitely not a place for the faint-hearted though.

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Helen with her three sisters

Whose Instagram account do you love at the moment?

I find some of the Instagram accounts that are too styled and colour coordinated, a bit samey and there is only so much gorgeousness you can handle without feeling dissatisfied about your own photographic skills or your wardrobe!! So I prefer to follow people I like such as Anthony Bourdain the food writer, he doesn’t post much but it’s kind of fun to see the random things he puts up. I also like to follow people who live or work in a city I may be visiting, so I can get tips for places to go. I followed Skye McAlpine before going to Venice, she is a cook who has lived there all her life so knows the best places off the beaten track.

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Helen exploring the Greek islands

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Pink inspiration from Helen’s trip to Venice

I loved exploring Venice through your Instagram account and on your blog. What has been your favourite holiday escape?

I like beaches and sun and shops and markets and great food, so by default the places I visit tend to be a bit touristy, but somewhere like Palma in Mallorca is perfect for me. It’s a fabulous town full of real people, tradition, amazing architecture, great food, style and sunshine. It is so close to all the beaches of Magaluf and all those proper package holiday areas, yet it is so very different. It’s wonderful, and when you get fed up of culture you can pop on a bikini, drink a beer and lie on the beach.

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Helen holidaying in Skopelos, Greece

I know you love films, do you have any recommendations?

I love anything foreign where nothing much happens, I like if there is a bit of a link to food or culture or something a bit edgy. I love ‘For water like chocolate’ a Mexican film about Love and Food and I also love ‘The Grocers Son’ a film set in Provence that gently wafts through the life of a young man who takes over his father’s grocery van and spends his days selling fresh produce to the locals, the scenery and the feel for Southern French life is delightful.

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Helen driving around St Tropez in the South of France

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

I have two… One, helping raise two amazing kids and seeing them both being successful and happy, beautiful, brave and humble. And two, landing the job of my dreams by fate and being lucky enough to be involved in the incredible adventure that is deVOL.

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Helen with her two children, Max and Zoë

Helen is based in our Cotes Mill showrooms, but she also comes down to the London office every couple of weeks and travels all over the UK to take pictures of our customers’ amazing kitchens. In the office you’ll often find her writing beautifully whimsical text for our brochures and the blog, although she has been known to be found pottering around the kitchen cooking up fresh pizzas or bacon and egg cobs for the whole team!!

– Take a read through some of Helen’s blogs here.

– Or browse her Pinterest board or Instagram for lots of beautiful inspiration.

 

 

#We’re Following deVOL

Posted on July 12th, 2016 by

It’s one of life’s simple pleasures, flicking through a glossy magazine with a hot cup of tea, and I’m lucky enough to get to do this as part of my job!! What makes it even better is when you stumble across an amazing feature in one of your absolute favourite magazines. Yesterday I was browsing the new August issue of Living etc., dreaming of cool apartments and Tuscan retreats, when my eyes caught a glimpse of our Sebastian Cox Kitchen, they quickly scrolled up to see a column in the news pages called “We’re Following deVOL”. It was a few months ago that a lovely member of the Living etc. team emailed me asking if I had any exciting updates about what deVOL will be up to this year. As magazines work so far in advance, sometimes it slips your mind what’s coming up…which only makes it more exciting when you come across it a few months later.

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It’s already been a pretty busy year for deVOL; we’ve won two amazing design awards for our brand new Sebastian Cox Kitchen, were chosen to represent British design at an international event in Taipei and took part in our favourite festival in Clerkenwell, a place we now call home and where we have become an integral part of the design community. It’s hard to believe we have even more exciting things coming up in 2016, but we do! Yes this is an exclusive, you may be seeing another utterly beautiful deVOL showroom in London very soon!!

– You can check out this really cool piece on our press pages here.

– Or you can pick up your copy of the latest Living etc. at most newsagents.

– If you’d like to follow deVOL too, we’re on TwitterInstagramFacebookPinterest & Tumblr

 

Our beautiful new Sebastian Cox Kitchen showroom…

Posted on July 11th, 2016 by

I’m so excited to share a sneaky peek of our brand new Sebastian Cox Kitchen showroom in London. We have been working on this awesome little space for a couple of months now and it’s just about finished and all ready for you to come and explore. I can’t quite believe how completely beautiful it looks and feels, it’s cosy and moody and so cool, and it really does make you realise just how easy and how lovely it would be to live with a Sebastian Cox Kitchen.

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I took a few quick photos which I hope will give you a feel of the room and the incredibly beautiful, soft light that shines down through those little glass pavement slabs above. We have installed this kitchen in the basement of our Clerkenwell showroom, just next to where our lovely kitchen designers and myself and Letty work. The space down here isn’t super big, but the kitchen fits in its own little room so perfectly, separate from our desks and the busyness of office life, it’s like a little haven, a hideaway.

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All of the walls have been painted in a deep grey colour, and although we don’t get all that much natural light down here, it totally works; the space doesn’t feel squashed or gloomy, it feels just right, like the kind of place you could chill and while away a few hours chitter-chattering with friends, cooking and drinking and being happy. We chose a beautiful Rustic Oak Parquet for the floor, it’s from our sister company Floors of Stone (check it out here) and has already been a big hit with customers and on social media too.

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Lots of quirky plants and cacti, handmade deVOL ceramics, some simple industrial lighting and a few select vintage bits and bobs compliment the textures and colours of the Sebastian Cox furniture so perfectly. How cool to see this corner of the basement go from a plain office space to a totally dreamy and unique kitchen… I knew this kitchen was going to look great, but I never thought it would look quite this great. I guess this range is just going to keep on surprising us with its beauty and how effortlessly it transforms even the simplest of spaces. We can’t wait to show you more.

 

– For opening hours and how to find our London showroom, just click here.

– To see more of our award-winning Sebastian Cox Kitchen range, please click here.