design, Interviews

The South African Potter Making Tableware For London's Trendiest Restaurants

Stephen Makin

Hailing from Hout Bay, Skye Corewijn is a London-based South African potter and ceramicist who left the music industry to throw clay, and she’s never looked back. Under the name Lazy Eye Ceramics, she first began selling her pieces at markets around London. At the time she was working as a waitress at a restaurant whose chef convinced her to make plates for his dishes.

lazy eye ceramicsAll images: Stephen Makin

The South African Potter Making Tableware For London's Trendiest Restaurants

Her next opportunity was to makes small plates and other pieces for a London Design Week dinner at Michelin-starred restaurant Lyle’s in 2015. Like dishes in a tasting menu, the commissions kept coming. Morning coffees, after work tapas and late-night desserts are all served from her handmade tableware in various restaurants across the capital city, including The Clove Club, Typing Room, Bao Fitzrovia and Ombra. The textures, shapes, glazes or colours that Skye uses will differ according to the brief at hand but at the core of her style is simplicity. 'I want every piece I make to invite touch and to be used and enjoyed on a daily basis in the little rituals that make up a day,' she says. 'So I guess I try to keep it practical, simple and beautiful.'

We asked Skye about her work and what she has to consider when creating crockery for restaurants.

How did you get into potting?

I was working in music, which was great, but also very desk-based. I had an appetite to do something more hands-on and, as I've always been a pretty tactile person, I wanted to give clay a go. I looked up pottery classes online and did a weekend course. Then an evening course to follow. That was it, I fell completely in love with throwing.

What keeps you at it?

The fact that I can keep challenging myself. There are endless possibilities and there is so much to learn; it keeps me really motivated. That and just the bliss that comes from making.

Where does the name Lazy Eye come from? 

It was a nickname I got saddled with at a restaurant I used to work at. Somehow Skye lazy eye stuck. It was also the first restaurant that bought some of my first plates. It was thrilling serving beautiful food on something I had made myself. In the end, I thought 'lazy eye ceramics' had a nice ring to it, plus it's much easier to spell than Corewijn.

Do you work together with the chefs at restaurants to develop their tableware?

Yeah, sometimes there is a process between myself and the chef. It varies but there can be a lot of back and forth; exploring different textures, glazes and shapes until we find the right one. Each chef is coming from a particular space and menu that really influences what they want from their tableware. It's a good challenge to take on as it nudges me out of comfort zones and stops me from getting too comfortable. 

What do you have to consider about the eating experience when designing and making your plates?

When you're making something that is used every day, whether it’s in the home or a busy restaurant you have to consider how important practicality and durability are. At the same time, we're talking about eating. It’s fun and a super valuable time shared with friends and family, so that should be considered, too. I think, for me, it’s about keeping the general vibe of the design relaxed, warm and inviting.

Photographs by Stephen Makin.