Emma Smith owns and operates The Flock, along with Billy Wilson. It’s a boutique design online store, carefully curated with love. We asked Smith, a photographer with a passion for ceramics and a good teapot (and elephants, because who doesn’t love elephants?!) to tell us more about her work.
What is your first artistic memory?
I have a terrible memory but I can remember when I made my first teapot at about age 7. I hand-built it from clay, it was quite a square teapot with a long spout. I painted it with pink diagonal stripes on the body and yellow polka dots on the lid and fired it. I gave it to my dad. Unfortunately it leaked tea from every single possible seam but my dad still thought it was the best teapot he ever owned. I am still obsessed with ceramics and a good teapot.
How did you wind up in this line of work?
I was previously a photographer and I honed my eye and my attention to detail through this. I gave commercial photography the flick in 2009 and decided to set up a small shop which has grown. I have always loved well designed, handmade objects and clothing.
If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be …
Making jewellery, writing or working with animals, probably elephants.
Talk us through a typical work day…
I start work at a leisurely 10am by checking my emails and drinking a litre of hot water (this is thirsty work). Depending on whether I am in the store alone or with my staff I will be with customers or I am out the back in the office sourcing products, dealing with online enquiries, working (and playing) on Facebook, blogging, updating the website etc. We finish at 5 which is nice but I often work six days a week. I take one day a week away from the shop to do photography and meet suppliers and I make jewellery in the evenings.
How do you source items for The Flock?
I source through online blogs and links and I have a lot of designers and makers approach me. I also go to design fairs. At the moment I am mostly interested in British design because of the renewed appreciation for craftmanship that is going on over there, I attended the London festival of design a few months ago and got myself all fired up and fell in love with the beautiful English woods they use and the timeless, practical nature of their design.
And what do you look for specifically?
I look for sincerity in an object, I like sensible design that is driven by the raw materials used and the intended function of the object. I appreciate raw, natural materials and sustainable practices and I’m always looking for something that is both a design classic and at the same time innovative and renewed. I also like to get a sense of the designer and/or maker in an object.
Any particular design trends you’re expecting to see in 2014?
The current obsession with wood will continue especially here in post-earthquake Christchurch. My customers are looking for minimal design, quality, and the handmade – and the recent trend with bright colours and neons is being replaced by a renewed appreciation of muted tones. The tribal and geometric patterning will probably continue for awhile but I expect to see softer patterns too. Beautiful glassware will appear at The Flock as well as more handmade ceramics that are more rustic in appearance compared with the 50s-inspired single tone or two tone work we have had in the past.
The Flock philosophy in three words is…
Authenticity, beauty, innovation.