WAYS OF SEEING: Maria Speake

Launched for London Design Festival and London Craft Week 2020 by The New Craftsmen, WAYS OF SEEING is a collaborative project that brought together maker and interior designer to celebrate new collections from The New Craftsmen and their makers.

We invited three prestigious interior design studios to explore their interpretation of these new collections within an interior. They included:

Maria Speake, Founder of Retrouvius
Emma Burns, Senior Design Director at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler; and
Sasha von Meister and Tom Bartlett, Directors of Waldo Works

Each interior designer developed their own unique scheme and room concept that showcased their individual personality and exquisite taste, whilst highlighting new pieces from The New Craftsmen makers’ collections.

Over a 6-week period we explored these three imagined interiors, the collections they celebrate and the distinct viewpoints on craft they represent.

Waldo Works

Maria Speake is the founder and director of London-based design studio, Retrouvius, who are best known for championing the respectful re-use of salvaged material, alongside a broad approach to sustainability and turning re-used materials to distinctive, contemporary ends.

For Maria’s scheme, she chose to focus on a kitchen in the heart of a Hebridean Highland house which confidently looks out over the southernmost peninsular on the Isle of Harris. A rare Georgian building, welcoming and sheltering visitors from the ever-changing weather.

The straw-woven Brogdar range by Gareth Neal and Kevin Gauld, and Annemarie O’Sullivan’s Taet Light felt immediately fitting - although inspired by the Orkney Isles, their pieces hark to a traditional feature of island living - to draw on what is readily and practically available.

Taking further inspiration from the woven straw backs of the Brodgar range, Maria decided to apply this technique and commission straw fronted kitchen cupboard doors which add warmth and texture.

Maria was also drawn towards pieces in that have an innate sense of weave and pattern, and abstractly reflect Harris’ association with tweed. As such, the new Studio Pottery Tile Range by Froyle Tiles used in the kitchen were laid in different directions to create different rhythms and patterns reminiscent of tweed markings. Ceramics by Dylan Bowen and Silvia K line the free-standing kitchen shelves; the slipware pieces adding a raw and earthy feel to the scheme.

The Meza Table made from sustainably harvested oak wood by SASA Works felt like an obvious choice for the dining area. Designed to be both graceful and robust, the piece acts as the heart of the home and the site of familial togetherness.

For the living room, Maria has selected the Stitched Sideboard designed by Gareth Neal and meticulously hand-braided by Aimee Betts, using a combination of leather, hemp and waxed cotton cords applied to a distinctive ash panel frame. The piece feels contemporary, whilst also echoing the daily repair of lobster pots and fishing nets on the Isle of Harris.

"This collaboration with The New Craftsmen has allowed us to immerse ourselves in the power of materiality and what makes something appropriate to a place; enabling us to bring to life the remote, romantic and raw location of this house situated in the incredible Outer Hebrides with real depth and authenticity."

Maria Speake – Director of Retrouvius

Maria Speake