The Architectural Simplicity of Arran Street East

The beautiful part about simplicity in functional ceramics is that they have a duty to bring out the very best in what they contain. That is where Irish ceramics brand, Arran Street East, comes in. The pieces are incredibly simple, in happy colors that go with everything. They seem to make food more appetizing and coffee more flavorful. A true celebration of food.

Started in Dublin by Laura Magahy in 2014, Arran Street East has since become an iconic Irish ceramics brand. They sell their wares beyond the borders of Ireland to a range of international clients including the quintessential homewares store, Heals, in the UK. Still…each and every piece is thrown, trimmed and glazed by hand. Even with a growing team, they are able to maintain the idiosyncrasies that make handmade special.

Here we talk with Arran Street East about the philosophy of their simplicity and what a day in the studio looks like.

GLAZE: Arran Street East makes handmade ceramics, but there is a team behind the brand. Can you tell us a bit about the team, who does what and how you all met?

ARRAN STREET EAST: There is a growing team behind Arran Street East. Started by Laura Magahy, our creative director, in 2014, we now have seven full-time and part-time makers, a studio manager, shop manager, and communications manager. Several of us met Laura through our involvement in the Irish Design 2015, a year celebrating design in Ireland, of which she was executive chair, and others have emailed us out of the blue, or come highly recommended from the Thomastown ceramics course in Kilkenny.

G: Your work is beautifully simple, what is your creative process like?

ASE: Arran Street East was born from the search for a simple, hand-thrown pot in great colours. Laura was frustrated by not being able to find the kind of stoneware she wanted to own, so, after learning to throw, she began to design and make her own, and soon realised there was a demand for work like this, and so the Arran Street East brand was born.

We think of ourselves as architects in clay, and the tessellating shapes of our pots and mugs are a cornerstone of our identity. Our inspiration is drawn from the city around us, and we do a lot of rapid prototyping to find what will feel right in the hand. We often sell things in our studio shop first to see how people react to them, and what the demand for them is.

G: Speaking of simplicity, what is your philosophy as to why it works so well for Arran Street East?

ASE: In an increasingly complex world, the simplicity and honesty of something like a piece of hand-thrown pottery in a world where so much is intangible becomes increasingly valuable. Something that the people who buy Arran Street East really value is the individuality of each piece, but also the precision of the making, and the elegance in the way it can fit into a home as a useful, beautiful, everyday object. 

G: What does a typical day in your studio look like?

ASE: We start by discussing ideas on how to improve our processes or add to our collection. We plan out throwing schedule for our potters and make a list for the glazer. We prepare bisque kilns by sponging down and checking each piece before it goes in for the first firing. We wax, fettle, line, and spray. We set out kilns to over 1,200 degrees and wait impatiently and with anticipation for 2 days before we open them again. At the same time, we’re keeping stock updated in the shop and on the online shop, shipping online orders, and order to retailers around the world, planning marketing campaigns and keeping our Instagram and Facebook pages updated with beautiful images.

G: Can you tell us who are unfamiliar with Dublin, about the location of your studio and how it affects the aesthetic of your work?

ASE: The Victorian Fruit and Vegetable Market of Dublin, where our studio and shop are based, is a big inspiration for us when it comes to colour and pattern, while architectural forms influence our shapes. Our identity is deeply connected to our sense of place. The A of our logo comes from the old Irish A on the Arran Street East street sign, and the pattern and colour of our market area home is a big influence on how we design and make, with our first colour collection, Markets, inspired by the colour of the fruits and vegetables for sale in the market. It’s an area of Dublin that, we believe, is worthy of more attention, and we hope that by being here, we can help to attract more people to this part of town.

G: What are you working on now?

ASE: We have just launched new our new colour collection, Cityscape, inspired by the skyline and materials that make Dublin. We have a new workshop series that has just started: Simple Food for Fast Times, with Aoife McElwain, in addition to our ongoing throwing workshops. We also just added a smallest water jug to our family of pitchers – at only 0.75 litre this cute addition proves to be very popular amongst our customers. We are revising our packaging and expanding list of international clients to ensure our pots reach everyone who loves them. We’re planning an exciting new addition: ceramic jewelry. Lots to do!


Images courtesy of Arran Street East on Instagram