As Lyngard prepares to celebrate its ten-year anniversary next year, Co-Founder Carmen Lyngard talks to Rosalind Sack about the meticulous process of handcrafting their incredible fine bone china lights and her lifelong passion for ceramics
(LEFT) LYNGARD’S BEAUTIFUL HAND-DECORATED CAMPBELL PENDANT; (RIGHT) CARMEN HAND-SCULPTING THE GROOVES IN THEIR GRANDE PINNOX PENDANT
Any interior designer will tell you that lighting can make or break a scheme; indeed, there are few things as striking and mood-enhancing as beautifully made lights. And you don’t get much more beautiful than Lyngard’s collection of meticulously handcrafted ceramic lights, produced in the heart of the Potteries.
Drawing on decades of knowledge and expertise in the craft, Carmen Lyngard and her husband and Co-Founder Iain Pattinson produce a timeless collection; from small and dainty, to large scale and sculptural. All of their pendants, wall lights, bathroom lights, lamps, flush mounts, even a contemporary chandelier, are crafted from a highly durable superior fine bone china, which creates an incredible luminosity.
Known by only a handful of experts world-wide, their signature pieces feature incredible reduction-fired lustres which produce a shimmering iridescent glaze. Others feature hand-painted marble effects, intricate leaf and flower designs, hand-etched patterns and 24 carat gold, platinum and copper interiors. No two pieces are the same.
Carmen tells us more…
You come from a long line of ceramicists and potters, when did you first discover your own passion for the craft?
I’ve always been surrounded by unique decorative ceramics for as long as I can remember. My dad worked as a prestige ceramic painter in the Potteries and later, when I was about five years old, he set up his own business in ceramic restoration. I worked for him from a young age as I was interested in the whole process of mending and cleaning pieces. Bit by bit, Dad taught me how to sculpt in miniature; replacing animal and human body parts, flowers and all sorts of missing objects. I would spend an abnormal amount of time dissecting how artists such as Gordon Forsythe for Pilkingtons, Martin Brothers, William De Morgan and Christopher Dresser constructed and decorated pieces.
Together, Dad and I used to travel to antique fairs across the country to drop off restored pieces to the dealers and every other month we would drop off to the London dealers. I was in awe of their homes; not only did they house the most jaw-dropping ceramic collections of art pottery, their homes were so stylish; town houses in North London decorated in a glory of Arts and Crafts and mid-century chic. Bearing in mind we didn’t have social media back then, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before and so inspiring. I was just used to staring at my ‘80s ditsy pink flower wallpaper and purple threadbare carpet!
This led me to study a BA degree in Fashion and Textiles and a career based in London but travelling the world as a fashion buyer. I would build and develop clothing ranges with plenty of pattern and texture. Through work I met my husband and business partner, who was a fashion branded merchandiser.
(LEFT) LYNGARD’S SPECIALIST REDUCTION FIRED PLEX PENDANT; (RIGHT) RIALTO PENDANT SHADES WITH METALLIC INTERIORS IN THE WORKSHOP
What prompted you to launch Lyngard in 2014?
After taking a career break to raise our two sons, my interest in ceramics was reignited. I started to buy broken ceramic pieces from auction houses, restore them and sell them, specialising in Victorian Majolica and turn of the century pottery. Before I knew it, we were selling at the high-end antique fairs in London, Chicago, Baltimore, Texas and eventually the prestigious New York Ceramics Fair. It was there that we were nestled between antique dealers and contemporary ceramic artists and this is where we realised that we should be making our own ceramics, as we had the knowledge to do so. Lighting was the obvious choice as it was a mixture of all my passions; ceramics, decoration and homes. We launched in 2014 at a trade show in London and this is where The Conran Shop discovered us and launched Lyngard’s Lustres in their windows for the Autumn/Winter season.
One of the specialist techniques you use is reduction fired lustres. What is this and what makes it so special?
The reduction fired lustres really were a starting point for us. We wanted to launch with something that was truly unique. However, what comes with this is a lot of trial and error… and despair! This technique produces a shimmering iridescent glaze that changes colour depending on the light emitted in the room. Metallic elements such as silver and copper are added to the firing process to give the light its individual charm. The process started in 2012 and took two years to take to market. I lost count of the amount of times my husband would say, “Why did you change that?” But, bit by bit, I kept perfecting the technique. No two pieces are exactly the same, which adds to the design’s unique beauty and appeal. When the light is switched on a vibrant copper interior adds a warm glow to the room.
Why do you choose to work exclusively with fine bone china?
We started out casting from buckets in the back room of Dad’s workshop using earthenware, but later upgraded to fine bone china. We swapped the medium as we wanted luminosity for our lights and we wanted the lustres to shine more, which was only achievable using this material. It’s fired at a much higher temperature so the body becomes stronger and will last for many years.
(ABOVE) IAIN AT WORK IN THEIR STOKE-ON-TRENT WORKSHOP
How long does it take to make one piece, for example your beautiful Campbell pendant?
Our lights are all handmade in our factory in Stoke-on-Trent. The whole process – from the original design, through to modelling and final production, wiring and packing – is all done in-house. Each individual light takes around a week to make, and it can go through several kiln firings before it is ready to be shipped out to customers across the world.
What are the elements that make up the perfect light, in your opinion?
Something that is crafted and unique and that gives you a sense of nostalgia and beauty. Something that makes you keep looking at it and cherish it.
Where do you find inspiration for your beautiful lights?
I naturally take inspiration from the past. I like to dissect techniques and I am fortunate to be able to pick my dad’s brain on the traditional methods that he used in the larger factories back in his day.
You make bespoke commissions as well – what have been some of your most memorable?
One memorable project was for a high-end hotel on the French Riviera. We worked with a well-regarded Parisian architectural designer and had to collaborate with an array of crafts people from across Europe, including metal and glass manufactures from Ireland and Switzerland, to produce the lighting pieces. The pieces were large and extremely difficult to make; it was a challenge but hugely rewarding when we produced the final piece.
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