Tell us about Bert & Buoy…

No Comments | November 22,2017 | by Site Administrator

So, hopefully you’ve heard by now? We’re launching a brand-new designer in just two weeks’ time! Bert & Buoy will be joining the MAKE International portfolio with its contemporary, nautical designs. Like all our ranges, the ceramics are designed by Head of Design Keith Brymer Jones whilst the quirky designs are created by the designer. Here’s a little bit about Bert & Buoy as a brand answered by the designer himself, Bert Fowler…


When did Bert & Buoy start? What inspired you? When did it really take off as a brand?

Bert & Buoy was established in summer 2015. I pondered creating a fresh, modern take on nautical for a long time and then decided if I was going to do it, there’d be no procrastination. I set myself the challenge of creating the brand and producing the first collection within six weeks! Bert & Buoy launched with a pop up store at Dartmouth Royal Regatta. The reaction was incredible. The store was buzzing and we immediately attracted interest from art lovers, interior designers and homeware buyers wanting to take home a cool, creative slice of the British coast. I immediately knew this was something special. What followed was a flurry of activity to create a wider collection, build an online store and develop relationships with gallery owners and independent retailers across the UK. Earlier this year, I started to think about developing a partnership with someone who could offer both a national and international platform for Bert & Buoy. This is when I came across the work of MAKE. When we met, their passion for nurturing British design and focus on truly special products, immediately resonated with me. I knew that together we could make a classic collection for modern everyday life.


Why the seaside theme?

I live and work on the truly stunning South Devon coast and wanted to create a modern nautical brand that captured the landscape that inspire my life. The light here is incredible, it‘s a feast for the eyes even on a nippy winters day. Everything you see has the volume amplified. Colours more vivid, objects more weathered, nature more prevalent – as the tide sweeps in and out.


How are the designs produced? Screen print, hand drawing, computer etc?

All of the pieces in the collection start off as original sketches and artworks by me – Bert. I have a studio in South Devon overlooking the shoreline and hand sketch at my 1950s drawing board (I’m a sucker for mid century furniture!). I then consider how they might work with materials and on products; working-up the final illustrations and surface patterns in the Mac.


What was the first design you ever did for Bert & Buoy? Which product came first?

The brand came first – the type, the cheeky face icon and stripy packaging. The first product design was the tessellating surface pattern of the Great Gulls. Based on the coastal Kittiwake bird; the illustration aims to capture their iconic gentle looks. Using black line work and just two other colours; the grey feathers give a geometric look and the yellow beaks provide that pop of colour on the repeated pattern.



What is special about Bert & Buoy?

Every part of the collection starts off as an original work of art inspired by life on the British Coast. This shifts nautical homeware from twee clichés, anchors and buckets and spades to a new, fresh, contemporary direction; just call it Nautical Niceness.


What message do you want to pass to customers through your brand?

To reconnect with the British coast – the rare light, vivid colours, prevalent wildlife and iconic places – it’s the stuff of dreams and for me, offers an unrivalled way of life. The Bert & Buoy collection is an authentic slice of the British coast, and one you can take home to treasure.


What does your working day usually consist of? Is there such thing as a typical day?

When I’m home, I awake to utter, joyful chaos each day; singing, laughing, skipping and playing. I’ve two kids under 4 you see. I walk to my studio along the stunning South Devon coast – the best commute in the world. With a nice cuppa in hand and music filling the room – I’ll catch up with my studio team, pick and wrap customer deliveries, respond to partner, media and customer requests and then spend the bulk of my day doing something creative, whether it be working on a new design at my drawing board or executing creative promotions – we’re just working on a beautifully playful film that combines RED cam footage with dancing illustrations. My working day usually finishes early, so I can see the kids before bed, but then you’ll then often find me back at my desk until the wee hours. It’s fair to say I’m a workaholic – Bert & Buoy is the culmination of my commitment to great design.

If you’ve got any questions for Bert about Bert & Buoy, himself or the new ceramics range then let us know 🙂