A Playful Ode to Decorative Ceramics

Hem enlists ceramists John Booth and Ian McIntyre, who recently formed a partnership called Supergroup, to dream up a limited-edition line of decorative home accessories.

John Booth and Ian McIntyre

At first glance, the work of ceramists John Booth and Ian McIntyre share little in common. Booth’s signature painterly figures lend verve and personality to clay, while Mcintyre’s reverence for tradition, form, and technique yields a sleek array of sophisticated tabletop goods. But there’s more than meets the eye between the two East London artists, who “both enjoy debunking formal ceramic traditions and dislike overly refined aesthetics,” says McIntyre. When approached by Swedish furniture brand Hem, who teamed up with Modern Design Review to launch a line of decorative accessories, the two opposites formed Supergroup—and leveraged their disparate skills to create a series of limited-edition ceramic sculptures unlike anything the two have ever done. 

The duo’s debut collection, called Superscene, forges a fantastical landscape of ceramic rainbows, flowers, and clouds, sporting playful, exaggerated forms. Each object speaks to Supergroup’s complementary strengths, which span the vast spectrum of stoneware production techniques. The cloud gleans its pristine, puffy contours from a textural pitted glaze, contrasting the rainbow’s meticulously hand-painted strokes by Booth. The flower’s brown Rockingham glaze, meanwhile, references McIntyre’s lauded Brown Betty teapot project. The sculptures, which took two months of trial-and-error to fabricate, can confidently stand alone or unite to form a whimsical, picturesque gestalt. Both arrangements, Booth notes, “impart a sense of immediacy, naivety, and perhaps the joy we experienced while making them.”

Photography by Erik Lefvander

Superscene intentionally eschews ulterior uses in favor of pure ornament, which Booth insists still commands a place within contemporary design. “Decorative work can evoke immediate emotional responses that are universal and relatable to many.” Hem seems to agree—further collections, each reflecting the creative ingenuity of their makers, are forthcoming.

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