The Quaint and The Quirky | An Interview with Melody Rose

We all know that afternoon tea has become a little bit of a London lifestyle and you’d be mad not to have taken your mum, your best friend or your boy for a spot of the good stuff. We’ve overindulged in the finger sandwich, gorged ourselves on macaroons and instagrammed the hell outta the pink parlour at Sketch. We’re a nation of tea drinkers (the herbal stuff for me) and we’re rather partial to a glass of fizz to go with it.

A couple of weeks ago I had the absolute pleasure of joining Melanie of Melody Rose at The Harcourt to try out their new afternoon Fika offering. Tea with Scandinavian references you say? Yes bloody please. A mix match of skull and wolf adorned chinaware with plenty of gold trimming – how could I say no?  

Founded in 2011 by designer Melanie Roseveare, Melody Rose started with the teaming of quirky images on elegant Victorian era chinaware, an upcycle of traditional homeware pieces by adding an animal or Melody Rose’s now signature skull. After roaring success with these pieces Melanie has now moved on to create her own range of fine bone china with a third-generation pottery in Stoke-on-Trent – a typically British production for a quaint and not so typical cup of tea.

The Harcourt range in particular is a little different with a mixture of antique and vintage pieces added and all hand finished in 22kt burnished gold. Mini teapots, teeny espresso cups and the sweetest milk jugs – the range is elegant, fresh and just the tiniest bit cheeky in it’s own way – just the way I like my tea served. I had a little chat with Melanie to find out more about the brand and the collaboration so keep reading for dream dinner party guests and more food photos to make you drool.

EJP : I love how your work marries traditional chinaware with edgier imagery. How were you inspired to pair the two together?

MR : I love the juxtaposition of the unexpected imagery mixed with traditional patterns. I started out making upcycled pieces 7 or 8 years ago. Reimagining the pieces with contemporary designs and motifs that are unexpected completely transforms the feel and look of each piece, making them relevant to a new generation that were not necessarily interested in fine bone china. The upcycled pieces were a way of reintroducing bone china to a new generation. It’s also quite exciting to see how small (and sometimes not so small) changes can completely update a plate or teacup.

EJP : Why do you think the Skull collection has become so iconic for you? It’s certainly my favourite set!

MR : I think the Skull motif is such an iconic design as it represents a number of things. It’s both interesting and beautiful but also surprising or even shocking on fine bone china. For me it suggests the idea of memento mori and an edge of rock and roll juxtaposed on fine china so it can be both fun and serious.

EJP : How do you collate inspiration for designs? Is there a process of collaging imagery you like or perhaps collecting imagery online?

MR : I usually start with researching using hardcopy print, so using books, photographs and magazines along with taking my own photos. I tend to stick images straight onto my studio walls! 

EJP : The Harcourt approached you to work with them on a commission for their new afternoon Fika menu. Can you tell me how that relationship came about?

MR : The Harcourt (Andrew Endean and Samantha Palmer) got in touch with me to say they were in the midst of planning their new venture in the old Harcourt Arms pub in Marylebone. I was very interested as just by chance the Harcourt was the first pub I hung out in when I moved to London from Canada. I happened to have a job working nearby then and we used to go for afterwork drinks at the Harcourt so it held special memories for me. We set up a meeting and I instantly knew I wanted to work with Andrew and Samantha. I loved the idea of Fika and their plans for the venue were so exciting, it was impossible not to be swept up in the excitement. I’m very pleased and proud to have Melody Rose at The Harcourt!

EJP : Who would your dream guests be for afternoon tea on your own tea sets?

MR : I think it would have to be a surrealist tea party and include some of the people who were my earliest inspirations Rene Magritte, Man Ray and Salvadore Dali. I’d love to add in Grayson Perry and my mom to make it the perfect afternoon tea.

EJP : And of course most importantly, what’s your favourite tea to fill your teapots with?

MR : I change my favourites a lot especially seasonally so fruit based teas are my favourite at the moment, particularly strawberry. I also love drinking coffee and often use the teapots and teacups for my morning fix.

EJP : Finally, what’s next for you?

MR : I’m just getting ready for launching my new mini 2 Cup teapots at Tent London this September. I’ll also be showing my new cake stands for the first time, as well as my first venture into textiles with a tea towel in a number of Melody Rose design classics.

So many thanks to Melanie for having me over for grub and some lovely chit chat. Having utterly filled my stomach with salmon, herring, cheese from Androuet and definitely three too many cinnamon buns, I can certainly recommend The Harcourt as a special London destination and I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking the boy back to try it out soon. 

Check out the full Fika menu here and book yourself in for a Scandi treat. Let me know what you think of both the food and the extra special Melody Rose chinaware.

INFO: The Harcourt, 32 Harcourt Street, London, W1H 4HX
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