Welcome to Wedgwood, Sheila Bridges

Wedgwood is delighted to announce a design collaboration with interior designer, Sheila Bridges.

Discover how Sheila’s much-admired design, Harlem Toile de Jouy, meets the craftsmanship of Wedgwood’s fine bone china to create a collection rich in art, expression and storytelling.

Here we speak with Sheila to discover more about the wonderful collection, the inspiration behind her well-known Harlem Toile design, and where her love of Wedgwood began.

Sheila Bridges holding her Harlem Toile collection plate

Watch Sheila Bridges telling about her inspiration to Harlem Toile de Jouy

Where did your love of Wedgwood begin?

A shelf in Sheila Bridges home with photo frames
I can't remember exactly when my love of Wedgwood began, but I'm sure that it started early. I remember my mother collecting different coloured Jasperware pieces, which were displayed in a glass cabinet in the sun porch of our family home in Philadelphia.  

As I got older, I began collecting the Jasperware myself and my mother and I often traded pieces if we were looking for a particular colour. I was always attracted to the beautiful range of colours and shapes as well as the classic motifs way before I became a designer.
Sheila Bridges colourful home

I became more intrigued by Wedgwood when I learned that in addition to being a successful entrepreneur, Potter, designer and Craftsman, Josiah Wedgwood was also active in the British Anti-slavery movement of the 18th century. Working alongside abolitionists by helping bring public attention to the movement with his slave medallion, which was created in 1787 and distributed to help spread the word.

I loved that he was willing to use his expertise position and his privilege to create something beautiful and meaningful that also expressed his conscience about something he deeply believed was wrong. One of my favourite pieces is a yellow and black Jasperware dish with the words ‘Am I Not A Man And A Brother’.

My mother gave me a small black and white Wedgwood slave medallion which I eventually turned into a necklace, so I guess you can say that not only do I eat off of Wedgwood China and collect colourful Jasperware, I also wear Wedgwood.

What inspired Harlem Toile?

Sheila Bridges Harlem Toile collection for Wedgwood
I designed Harlem Toile back in 2005 and it's hard to believe that it has been 17 years. I've always loved French toiles but when I was searching for a toile for my own home, I simply couldn't find one that spoke to me directly, so I did what most designers do, I created my own and quite frankly I designed this for myself initially as a wallpaper and then a fabric. I wanted to see a toile that expressed a different point of view than the typical toiles I'd seen in the past. As a black woman in Harlem, I wanted to address stereotypes that are commonly associated with black people, but approach the images in a way that also felt celebratory.

Talk to us about using art as a tool for storytelling – how do your personal values feed into your work?

I'm a designer by profession, but I really think of myself as a visual storyteller in most instances, I'm helping clients to tell their own stories through the design work that I do in their homes.

What is your favourite piece from the Wedgwood x Sheila Bridges collection and why?

Sheila Bridges colourful collection for Wedgwood

I'm not really sure that I have a favourite piece of Wedgwood from my collection because every time I try to choose one, I decide that I like another! Perhaps it's the cup and saucer. 

I love that we incorporated the traditional Wedgwood blue and white on the saucer and that the cup is actually a completely different colour. I think the pieces are really elegant and well-made in the tradition of Wedgwood, but I also think that they're whimsical and fun. 

Usually when you think of Wedgwood, you think of Jasperware and very classical motifs and a lot of symmetry. I think we sort of played with that a bit, which is why the pieces are off-centre and have pattern inside and also on the back, perhaps allowing the story to continue.

The new Wedgwood X Sheila Bridges collection is now available at Wedgwood.com.