Category Archives: Behind the Design

Behind the Design: Our Cambria Collection

Behind the Design, Behind the Scenes | | | 41 Replies

Each piece of our Cambria Dinnerware, from the tiny Tidbit Plates to the spacious Serve Bowls, starts out as a simple slab of clay in a Portugal factory.  Skilled employees — many who have worked in ceramics for all of their lives — take each piece of clay through a painstaking process to produce our beautiful line of dinner and serveware.

cambria ocean

Although much of the work is done with the aid of machines, each step also requires work to be done by hand. Cleaning the clay, applying patina and finalizing the shape by hand makes each and every piece of Cambria a unique piece of art. Take a look at the amazing process, from start to finish, below.

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First, large pieces of clay are cut to size for the press machine. Each piece of clay is sized to the type of dish it will create.

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The slabs are then placed on a press machine. Specialists carefully monitor the process to make sure the pieces are molded accurately and without defect.

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Once the clay is molded and pressed, extra clay is cut off, and the shape is fine tuned with a roller machine.

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Here, one of the Portugal factory’s many skilled workers finishes a shaped piece with a wet sponge to clean the edges.

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Then, the pieces are left to dry on racks.

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Once dry, patina is applied with a brush by hand to give each piece visual texture and depth.

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The Cambria pieces are then glazed with a machine for cohesive, continuous color and cooked in a kiln.

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Here’s a shot of the colorfully glazed complete product. The meticulous process makes each piece just a little bit different — a true piece of art.


Every piece of Cambria is carefully inspected before its labeled, packed and shipped off to your home.

See more Behind the Design posts. 

Q&A: Photographer Lupen Grainne

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Like many of the visual arts, becoming a successful photographer is no easy feat — particularly in a time where iPhone photos often steal the limelight. So California photographer Lupen Grainne, whose unique work is sold at Pottery Barn, is a true diamond in the rough — particularly since she’s self taught! “It’s all been a journey of inspiration and exploring,” she says. “And of course, some YouTube tutorials have really saved me a few times.”

Grainne’s stunning work brings nature to the home in a compelling way. Take a look at some of her newest work and learn about her process and inspiration, below.  lupen2

Q: How would you describe your approach towards photography?

A: My approach to photography is pretty random. I can be very inspired for a week solid, going on outings, having ideas for still lifes and creating lots of images. Other times, I’m more focused on other projects, like painting or music, so I won’t do any photography for a week.

I feel like all creative mediums and pursuits influence each other. Working in other mediums definitely affects my photography’s composition, color and texture.


Q: How have you honed your style over the years?

A: Over the years, my style has emerged mostly from experimenting with different ways to compose my shots and edit them. It is continually evolving. What looks or feels right to me last year might not be the same this year.

What I love about this kind of creative photography is that I don’t have to make images that I hope someone will like. Instead, I just follow what really inspires me — the possibilities are kind of endless this way.


Q: Where do you like to find inspiration?

A: I find my inspiration in many ways, but mostly finding things out in nature, like a beautiful landscape or a flowering tree or seed pods fallen from a plant for a still life. I’m also inspired by color combinations, like green and aqua, or a kind of muted monochrome palette with gradations of all the same color. So I look for certain color combinations and create images from those ideas.


Q: What is one of your new, favorite pieces?

A: The “Touch of Spring” (above)  is one of my very favorite pieces, I have this one in my house and never tire of its sort of humble cheerfulness, and of course the pink — I have a lot of pink decor in my house.

lupen grainne san francisco

Lupen Grainne (pictured above)  is a professional photographer who lives in Northern California. See more of her work at Pottery Barn.

Wedding Inspiration: Our Design Team’s Registry Window Display

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Did you, or one of your loved ones get engaged this holiday season? If so, you’re probably in full wedding planning mode: finding the dress, setting the date and of course, setting up your registry.

We know that a lot goes in to planning your big day, so we want to make it as easy as possible on our end. Our Wedding + Gift Registry can help you find everything you’ll need for your new home. To show you how, and kick off 2014 wedding season (and our new registry blog!), we’re hosting an event at San Francisco wedding studio Blu Bungalow.

Our design team put together a beautiful display of some of our favorite registered items in the Blu Bungalow window. Take a look at the display and the inspiration, below!


Our talented design team combined our most simple, elegant and must-have tabletop items for any new home in a single display in Blu Bungalow’s front window on Union Street in San Francisco. Everything from our Great White Dinnerware, to Antique Silver Serving Set, to Schott Zwiesel Goblets to our Gabriella Cakestand is carefully stacked in this delicate display.

inspiration for vignetteThe inspiration for the display was this image, shot for one of our Spring catalogs.


Black display cubes were stacked just-so and filled to the brim with piles of dishes, serveware and silverware. Each cube is carefully designed to look beautiful from every angle.


The elegant etchings on our Antique Silver serveware add just the right details to the classic vignette.
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If you’re in the Bay Area, don’t miss out on seeing this vignette, several others and the opportunity to win some great prizes at our February 6th event. RSVP today at Hope to see you there!


Behind the Design: Our Rhodes Ceramics

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Here at Pottery Barn, we take great pride in the artisan heritage behind many of our pieces. Our beautiful Rhodes ceramics are just one of many Pottery Barn collections that has a rich story behind it.

rhodes1Many of the items in our Rhodes ceramics collection, including our Ceramic Bottle Coaster and our Party Bucket and Wine Cooler, are made in Montelupo-Florence, Tuscany in Italy. Each handmade item in the collection is produced at Ceramiche I.M.A., a small company founded in 1978 by three close friends.

sku # 8798126 (11)Here, you can see our Rhodes Bottle Coaster carefully shaped on an expert artisan’s potter’s wheel. Ceramiche I.M.A. only uses hand made processes — no factory machines here! Each item is made with care until completion, even if it takes 10 hours of painting to finish (which some items do!).

rhodes4And here’s the final result: the beautifully finished and handmade Rhodes Bottle Coaster.

sku # 1758531 (13)All of the clay for the Rhodes collection is extracted from the shores of the nearby River Arno and then purified. In this shot, one of Ceramiche I.M.A.’s potters carefully shapes the details on our Rhodes Wine Cooler. Most of these artisan workers have at least 35 years of experience creating perfect pieces of pottery.

rhodes2This shot shows the completed wine cooler — beautiful! It takes about 20 days from start to finish to create a single piece — with a week in the drying kiln and two days of firing after dipping the pieces in glaze.

sku # 1758580 (9)In this shot, a potter puts the finishing touches on the Rhodes Party Bucket, making sure that each tiny detail looks perfect.

rhodes3Voila! The handwork on this piece makes it truly unique.

The process behind our Rhodes ceramics, and many other Pottery Barn pieces, takes a lot of time and hard work to complete, but the results are well worth it. Our Rhodes ceramics are each one-of-a-kind and made to last for generations.

Say Hello to Our Performance Fabric Collection

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Thatcher Performance

Life is messy — we get it! Real life isn’t picture perfect — real life has kids jumping on the couch, the dog sleeping on the ottoman and your Great Aunt Emma spilling wine on your favorite white chair. The mess is inevitable, and to be honest, your home wouldn’t be the same without it.

However, that doesn’t mean your style has to suffer. That’s why we’ve created our exclusive Performance Fabrics Collection. These fabrics are tough, and designed to stand up to every scuff, stain and spill your family will bring to the table. But don’t worry — we wouldn’t dare compromise on comfort or style.

For spring, we’re offering something brand new: Performance Fabric from Perennials. “This fabric’s practically bulletproof,” says Pottery Barn textile designer Sandra. This high-end fabric now tops our grades of Performance Fabric in durability, style and cost.

Not sure which Performance Fabric is right for you? We’ve summarized the properties of each below, along with Sandra’s tips about using each in your home.

Note: All of our Performance Fabrics easily spot clean and are machine washable.

-Bleach cleanable
-Linen look, soft feel
-Indoor/outdoor friendly
-Mold and fade resistant
-Water repellent, stain resistant

Sandra’s tip: “Perennial fabric is a great choice for a large upholstered item that you plan on investing in. Since it’s so durable, it’ll last a lifetime.”

chair perfLeather:
-Wipes clean easily
-Smooth, soft feel
-Becomes softer with time
-Withstands scuffs and dings

Sandra’s tip: “We consider leather a performance fabric because it looks better and better with time. The scuffs can be rubbed out, so it’s great with children and pets.”

-Ultraplush, soft microfiber
-Stain and oil resistance
-Suitable for heavy duty use
-Water repellent
-Exclusive to Pottery Barn

Sandra’s Tip: “This suede is one of my favorite fabrics. It stands out in a crowd. The fabric is hand-finished in Italy with a special brushing and bonding technique that makes it look beautiful.”

-Long wearing
-Extra-soft with a plush pile
-Water repellent
-Suitable for families with children and pets

Sandra’s Tip: “I love everdayvelvet’s neutrals. When used on a big piece of furniture, you can layer in rugs, drapes and pillows to complete a room with ease.”

pottery barn living roomPerformance Canvas:
-Performance fabric with superior feel and look
-Water repellent

Sandra’s Tip: “Performance Canvas means that anyone can have a white sofa! Whether you use a slipcover or upholster a new piece, it’s incredibly easy to clean.”

Performance Tweed:
-Water repellent
-Woven with chenille bouclé yarns for extra softness
-Child and pet friendly

Sandra’s Tip: “This Performance Fabric looks just like linen. We added 3 colors to this fabric for Spring — they’re perfect for a fresh, new look in your home.”

Read more about our Performance Fabric collection here. 

Behind the Design: Our Library Glass Barware

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Decorating a bar requires a similar different approach to the rest of the home. There are the necessities (one’s liquor of choice, of course), and the playful elements of whimsy (Bulldog bottle openers and St. Bernard shotglasses, for example). But when it comes to the heavy duty, hardworking items, they need to be classic, sturdy and beautiful.


Our Library Barware (seen above) set certainly falls into the last category. These handsome glasses and decanters have a timeless element that works with any home’s décor.

photo 1[2]Handmade in Turkey, these glasses are made in a factory in Denzli and then shipped to another location that specializes in hand-etching glassware.

photo 3Each glass is measured and marked by hand. Then, using a grinding wheel, a skilled craftsperson looks through the glass and etches the opposite side to a specific depth

photo 6Etches are made horizontally, then vertically.

photo 5Each etch from the grinding wheel is hand polished using a polishing wheel.

photo 7[2]The entire finishing, etching and polishing process takes about 30 minutes from start to finish per glass.

libraryIt’s a lot of work, but the attention to detail and precision results in a striking line of handmade barware.  And that’s what we’re all about — putting in the extra work so that your home can look as beautiful as possible.

Read more Behind the Design posts.

Meet San Francisco Artist Maria Burtis

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Artist Maria Burtis has worked every single day for the past 3,042 days (and counting). Over 8 years ago, she promised herself that she’d make one small piece of art every single day. It certainly wasn’t easy, she’s stuck to her resolution since 2005 — and with great success, to say the least. Burtis is one of our best selling original artists.

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Although the experiment initially began as a way to start making art again after having children, it quickly grew into a new career. “I started by working in a sketchbook and committed to filling one page a day,” Burtis says. “The sketchbook went with me everywhere, so if I only had a minute to draw, that’s what I did.” After a few years, she switched from pencil and pen in a sketchbook to flat paper and acrylic paint. “My work began to get more abstract at that point,” she says. “The everyday things got depicted less literally.”

mariaBurtis finds inspiration in the simple beauty of the world around her. Living in the Bay Area provides her with a varied landscape to draw inspiration from. “The fog, the sun, the water, the hills, the architecture, but mostly the light — all change constantly throughout the day and captivate my attention,” she says. The painting below, “Marina Green 8,” is a stunning expression of a place she loves.

marinagreenHer life as a mother and homemaker inspires her, too. “I recently found myself painting stacks of laundry —  the shapes and the colors were so interesting, and even though the subject matter seems mundane, it reflects the attention and joy I take in tending to these things.”

The painting below, “Laundry,” is the result of this study. “The domestic tasks around the house never really end,” says Burtis. “It can feel frustrating and boring, or you can look for the poetry and presence in it, too.”

laundryEach of Burtis’s paintings is a frozen moment in time, reflecting how she feels, what she sees and thinks at that particular time. “If you look closely at the surfaces of the paintings, there is information that’s right on the surface, then slightly below, and then below that, and below that,” she says. “Each painting is a recording of many many hours of presence. You can sense the artist in the painting, but they are works that are about the universal joy in the everyday.”

jubliationCreating something every single day is nothing short of challenging — but Burtis’s eye for finding the beautiful in the ordinary has made her art truly special, including the painting above, titled “Jubliation.” “There’s an amazing thing that’s happening as a result of all these days,” she says. “Not every painting is a winner. There are clunky ones and uninteresting ones. But every once in a while, there’s a breakthrough — a jewel that emerges or a new idea that bubbles to the surface.”

See more of Maria Burtis’s work on, and visit Burtis’s site here.

A Globally Inspired California Home, As Seen in House Beautiful

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Executive Vice President of Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma Monica Bhargava has a stunning California home that exhibits her impeccable taste, and some of the best of the best of Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn designs. House Beautiful recently featured her beautiful home, and we’ve included some of our favorite parts of the story for you to look at today, on the Pottery Barn blog.


Bhargava’s global, collected design sense reigns in every room. We particularly loved this quote from Bhargava: “Someone once said that a home is like an autobiography, and my California living room is filled with things I love — a Beni Ourain rug, Indian sculpture, a wood mirror found at a local flea market.”
housebeautiful4The kitchen opens to the dining room and a family room. Neutral textiles and white walls give the home a refreshing, comfortable feel.

The kitchen’s open concept makes it a central hub for Bhargava’s family. The large island is where everyone ends up spending their time. “Everything is centered here,” Bhargava said in the interview. “I can put out the best hors d’oeuvres on another table somewhere else, and it doesn’t matter. Everyone goes right back to that island.”


Layered textiles in the family room give it a cozy, lived-in look. Natural materials mix textures and patterns in a way that feels subtle but purposeful.

housebeautiful1The master bedroom is a recent addition to the home. “We wanted a sanctuary,” said Bhargava in the interview.  A clean color palette and cozy textiles give the room a serene look.

Want to hear more about Bhargava’s design aesthetic? See the full story from House Beautiful.

Sneak Peek: Pottery Barn’s 2014 Indigo Spring Collection

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Today, we’re giving you an exclusive sneak peek of our Spring Collection for 2014. Follow Pottery Barn on Pinterest, and take a look at our Spring Preview Pinterest board. Click on each photo on the board, and you’ll be able to shop the collection before anyone else.

Here on the blog, we wanted to tell you a little bit about our new color story: Indigo. We spoke to one of our expert textile designers, who filled us in on what it was like working with such a refined hue.

indigo cover shot

Blue (and indigo in particular) is a refreshing color. In psychological studies, blue has a calming, tranquil affect — the same feeling we get when we look at a clear lake or the ocean. It’s a natural color to gravitate to after months of cold weather and dark skies.

pottery barn living roomBut for whatever reason, some of us still get nervous about using it in our homes. “Blue shouldn’t be scary to introduce into your house,”  says Pottery Barn textile designer Sandra. “It’s just like wearing a pair of jeans. It’s very pretty, classic and easy to work with.”

candle votivesIndigo’s rich, deep hue allowed Pottery Barn designers to treat it like a neutral when creating this collection. “Indigo evolved into a neutral for us. Gray and blue is gorgeous,” says Sandra. “You can also introduce red into indigo for more of an Americana feel. There’s really not a lot you can’t pair with it.”

spring previewThe collection mixes textures, colors and patterns with its signature indigo hue. “Flax linens and ivories look fresh with indigo, like a white t-shirt and jeans,” says Sandra. Many of the textiles also combine patterns with influences from Japan, India and traditional America.

cambriafootedJust like it does on a good pair of jeans, indigo offers a gradation of colors as it’s washed and worn down.  “We played a lot with tonalities of blues,” says Sandra. “Indigo blooms when it’s washed.”

paisleyDuring the photo shoots, the designers found that adding a touch of black — through wood, iron or finishes — provided a complementary focal point to the indigo. It’s a simple but impactful decision that’s easy to implement in anyone’s home.

lights“You don’t have to change very much when using blue in your home,” says Sandra. “It’s not that hard to infuse with existing wood, leathers and fabrics.”

cambria pileDon’t forget to check out our new indigo collection and much more of our Spring 2014 Collection Preview exclusively on Pinterest!

An Awe-Inspiring Pottery Barn Thanksgiving

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Here at Pottery Barn, we love a beautifully set table, but also know that the most special tables are the ones surrounded by friends and family. That’s why we love Thanksgiving. It’s the perfect time to reunite with all of our loved ones over a special meal.



To celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, we wanted to revisit these gorgeous photos shot on site at a special bridge in Maine. What makes this bridge even more fitting for a Thanksgiving photo shoot is its status as a favorite wedding location. Whether for weddings or holidays, the bridge naturally lends itself to important gatherings.

These catalog photos was staged on Sunday River Bridge, also known as Artist’s Covered Bridge. The most painted and photographed covered bridge in Maine, it’s located on Sunday River Road in Newry, Maine. Sunday River Bridge, an 87-feet-long Paddleford truss bridge, was built in 1872. The bridge was closed to traffic over 50 years ago, with a new bridge located downstream.


Picturesque from any angle, wouldn’t you agree?



Whether you’re holding your Thanksgiving celebration in a singular location such as this, or on the same dining table that has hosted decades of holiday meals, we hope that this holiday is filled with happiness for you and yours.

And of course, good food and libations.

Please do share details about your planned Thanksgiving feast with us by leaving a comment below.

Happy Thanksgiving!