You Have To See Ceramicist Rachel Saunders' Impossibly Chic 70s-Style Apartment
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the home and studio of artist and ceramicist Rachel Saunders.
Working with clay as her primary medium, ceramicist Rachel Saunders sculpts unique pieces that celebrate simplicity, functionality, and sustainability. These same design principals are reflected in the way she styles her light-filled home on Vancouver Island, an artistic enclave off Canada’s Pacific Coast.
Here, nothing is without purpose. In earthy tones of sand, tan, and crisp white, Rachel’s home espouses 70s style with modern minimal conventions. A spectacular stone-based coffee table serves as functional sculpture, whilst arched wood framed mirrors accentuate the oak hardwood floors throughout her home. Our favourite pieces? Thrifted mid-century lamps with pleated shades, fresh white linens and of course, her namesake ceramics, which punctuate the purposefully spartan space. As in her work, Rachel balances simplicity with thoughtfulness, and the result is a space that is clean and relaxed without feeling stark or impersonal.
Bed Threads: Hi Rachel! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
Rachel Saunders: I make an assortment of sculptural and functional ceramic work in my little studio on Vancouver Island, Canada.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I think it relates primarily to the parts of myself that are curious, playful, and simultaneously impulsive and resourceful. I love working out an idea with my hands right when it comes to me. It’s like they have their own language and the rest of me just sits back and watches.
When did you start creating art, sculptures and ceramics? And what inspired you to go down this route in your career?
I think its been about 5 or 6 years now with clay. From a very young age I loved creating things with my hands- be it baking, embroidering, or going out back to make toys out of tree branches with a whittling knife in the forest behind my childhood home. I never sought out to do what I do, I couldn’t have really imagined it if I tried. It’s all unfolded and taken shape very organically. I feel I was divinely guided to this craft which has not only helped create a very rewarding career but has also turned into one of my biggest teachers.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I start by emptying out my vessel so it has room to be refilled. When I am overstimulated or saturated by daily life overload, and I often am, nothing new has room to come in and grow. So I walk a lot, take care of myself, connect with inspiring people, get myself to a whole place and then am able to allow new thoughts and ideas to enter.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
Hiring help! Life changing. I have a couple amazing assistants who help me in so many important ways and make everything so much more enjoyable.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
Hire help! Before you really need it! Many hands make for light work and I think it’s so important to have a support system in every area of life and learn how delegate tasks to lighten your load to avoid burnout.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to start their own creative business?
Don’t let perfectionism get in the way of sharing your authentic gifts with the world.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since this career move?
All the truly incredible and inspiring people I am constantly connecting with.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
About 6 months.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
I wrote down a list of everything I wanted and it ticked every box.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
I had everything freshly painted white and energetically cleared the space with my parents when I first moved in. I’ve been taking my time to furnish it and am focusing on just having the bare necessities so it stays as tranquil and inspiring as possible for me.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I wanted it to be a peaceful healing space for me to recharge in during a transitional period in my life. I wanted it to be able to ground and support me and my creative pursuits. It’s not a forever home but I’m having fun keeping it airy and minimal while I figure out my next steps in the world.
What are your favourite pieces in your home?
My custom desk and table I designed and had my dad recently build for me. I’m going to tile the top of the dining table with pieces of my own ceramics when they’re out of the kiln!
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I just had an incredible Feng Shui consultation via FaceTime with Meghan Wallace James who is an LA based space consultant and miracle worker. We agreed that my bedroom could use some more masculine pieces to balance it out and I’d love to find a matching pair of matching marble nightstands.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
I truly love every room, I have really made this home my own. But sleep is so deeply important to me and having a heavenly, cloud-like bed means the world to me.
Tell us about your bedroom.
What can I say? It’s where the magic happens.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
I think ideally a bedroom should be a sacred sanctuary of sorts. No work, no electronics. I think it should visually convey this is where you rest and play. When in doubt, leave it out. Keep it peaceful and sexy.
Shop Rachel's look with a White Bedding Set and her signature Woman Vases, now available at Bed Threads.
What does getting a good night’s sleep mean to you?
I don’t mess around when it comes to sleep because I can’t function without a very high quality version of it. I like to sleep in total darkness, with the windows open and a breeze coming through. Fluffy white linens have always been a must for me, and I use incandescent lighting or candles before bed to help the nervous system fully relax. And on days that I can I try to wake up without an alarm clock.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I’ll have a very exciting new offering coming up soon that’s not made of clay! Will also be expanding my workshop offerings to include new locations so I can connect with more people IRL.
For more from Rachel, follow her on Instagram @rachelsaundersceramics and check out her website, rachelsaundersceramics.com. Photography by Berkley Vopnfjord, @berkleyvopnfjord and flowers by @rookandrose.