Maham Anjum is an award winning ceramicist based in London. We were introduced to her stunning work, while developing the designs for the first Hoppers Restaurant on Frith Street.
Our mutual client Karam Sethi discovered Maham and collaborated with her to produce the authentic Sri Lankan style crockery set for the restaurant. These finer details and tactile elements are what make Hoppers such an experiential dining experience.
When we wanted to design some bespoke ceramics as Christmas gifts, Maham was first and foremost in our minds.
Photography by Alice Whitby
You have produced some beautiful pieces for an array of successful chefs and restaurants. How did you get introduced to that industry and what was your first project working alongside a chef?
One of my first project was working with Jamie Oliver’s JME brand alongside his food team. I designed tableware and serve ware working closely with the food team. Around the same time I met Chef Vivek Singh who was interested in introducing the high fired terracotta tableware (in his restaurants The Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen) I had developed in Sri Lanka. This was a unique project where potters made the items on the potters wheel using a clay body that we had developed to fire high making it suitable for restaurant use. The ware was glazed and fired in a modern factory and shipped to the UK.
It must be such a creative process to think about how the plate, as a frame for the food, how it can compliment and enhance a restaurants’ dish. Are you provided with a preview or ‘taster’ of a chef’s menu to assist you with developing the designs and materials for a new range?
I work closely with the Chef and their team. For example with Hoppers, Karam and Karan gave me a clear idea of their concept and how they wanted the food to be presented. I work on many samples to get a particular item in the range so that it fits the brief, enhancing the food served on it. This is a process where the Chefs use the plate or bowl and give feedback. That feedback is imperative in fine tuning the proportion, colour and functional qualities of the particular piece.
Is there a cuisine that you have not yet designed for that you would keen to collaborate on? Ie. Japanese dining, with all of it’s intricacies and ceremony?
Food of Central and South America, in particular Mexico. The small plates, the different and diverse ways of preparation, the colours of the food, ingredients used, the presentation of the food all enthuse me.
I have designed for Narumi, a bone china manufacture in Japan, our range focused on the Japanese customer as well as the and Far eastern hospitality market. Here I got a chance to investigate and look into the relationship between food and the contemporary Japanese customer
I’ve just finished a project on a West African food concept. The raw hand-built qualities of everyday ware being translated into a fine dining concept were very exciting.
Your knowledge of different clays and stoneware is extensive. Is there a favourite material that you enjoy working with most?
I love working various kinds of clays, they are all different like people. My favourite is the humble terracotta. It is a clay that has a wide firing range, the colour varies (depending on were the items are placed in the kiln) Its various functional qualities eg for cooking, serving and eating out of. The contrasts of coloured and reactive glazes that compliment it.
Are there other ceramicist and artists that have inspired your work over the years?
My guru’s David Queensberry and Martin Hunt. Lucie Rie, Eva Zeisel, the artisan potters in Sri Lanka, South Asia and Africa I have worked with. Painters such as Lucio Fontana, Howard Hodgkin and Shakir Ali. More recently the interior designers I have worked with – Katy Manolescue of Article Design Studio.
Haha, thank you Maham.