embi designs is the company of South London based Designer-Maker, Michele Berry, whose driving force is a desire to bring the worlds of art, craft and design closer together, whilst broadening social perceptions of ceramics. Michele completed her Foundation studies at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, gained an Honours Degree at West Surrey College of Art and Design (BA hons 3D Design: Ceramics) and attained her Masters Degree from The London Guildhall in 2003 (MA: Art, Design & Visual Culture). Prior to founding the company, her technical and business skills have been developed through a variety of positions held in the Arts Education and Commercial sectors, including; Ceramic Tutor, Arts Technician, Assistant Co-ordinator (of a multi-craft workshop) and Retail Manager.
embi designs’ products are borne of a garden studio in South East London. Clay is used as a principal material with typical additions including, glass, metal, textiles or wood – either integrated with ceramic processes or used in post-firing, structural procedures. Traditional craft processes are modified and re-applied whilst something of an incidental nature is harnessed. Notions of truth, perception, worth and beauty can all be found in this rich mix, creating an irresistible aura and evoking an almost involuntary emotional, tactile response. The viewer is drawn in, ever closer to the finer details of form, surface and colour.
Over 25 yrs of making experience enables Michele to remain true to the traditions of clay, whilst also stretching the boundaries of ceramic design. She deliberately employs the traditional language of ‘pottery’ together with a bold sense of contemporary design in a bid to encourage enquiry and reassessment, resulting in products often displaying an ambiguous nature. Through her handling of materials, she elevates the status of the ordinary; exposing essential qualities by allowing materials to display their aesthetic appeal with a natural honesty. As far as possible, materials remain as close to their raw state as designs will allow, therefore elements such as glazes and applied decoration are limited.
A range of ceramic techniques are employed including, hand-building, throwing, turning, press-moulding and slip-casting, with complimentary disciplines introduced where appropriate, such as, upholstery and paper-craft. Her love of materials and processes is evident in her all-encompassing, holistic approach to making. Materials and processes interweave and overlap, dictated only by a desire to best realize the project in mind.
Michele’s inspiration is largely drawn from the natural. Whether that be the physical environment we all share (the plants, creatures and atmosphere surrounding us) or her preoccupation with how it all works. In particular, Michele holds a fascination for how we come to be who we are - as individuals and communities. An awareness of inter-connections in social life, as well as the human body, being able to somehow transcend their composite parts, is also reflected in the work.