The Designs That Defined Us

18 May 2021

The Designs That Defined Us

Ten years. How wonderful it is to reach Rowen & Wren’s very first decade; it feels like it was only yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once that it all began. Back in 2011, we could never have imagined the lovely community that would spring up around us, nor the loyalty shown by our wonderful customers. For that, and so much more, we’ll be forever grateful.

The story all started, of course, with our products. As our small but mighty team raise a glass to the future, our founders Graeme and Lucy reminisce with our very-own writer Nancy about the designs that shaped all that Rowen & Wren stands for today. Here’s to many decades more!

The first…product

Lucy: “Even though they were part of a larger collection, we’ve always deemed our white and grey-glazed ceramic apples and pears as our first product. As I recall, Graeme was pretty reluctant to kick off our venture with, as he called them, ‘fluffy’ accessories, but there was something so aesthetically pleasing about them and their drippy glaze. The launch was all very homespun – we photographed them, stored them and dispatched them all from our little flat – and they really took off. It’s hard to articulate that feeling but it was almost child-like excitement. Spending the early hours hand-wrapping their delicate stalks was a labour of love, but goodness was it worth it. They seemed to have a timeless appeal, those humble apples and pears. Even now, so many friends and family still have them, and we just love that.”

The first…collection

Graeme: “We don’t like to do things by halves, so we actually launched with three collections rather than one! The apples and pears were of course in the mix, but there were thirty or so products in total. We presented them under three distinct looks: the globally influenced ‘Distant Home’; the rustic ‘Refined Rural’; and the classic clean vintage lines of ‘Timeless Living’. The idea was to create whole looks that people could buy into, so that anything bought from the trio of collections would work beautifully together. We came across some of the old marketing material only a few months ago during an office clear-out, and enjoyed reminiscing with everyone. We’ve kept hold of them so we can do the same in another ten years!”


Lucy: “For me, the Flori Pendant signalled our shift from giftable pieces to more substantial designs for the home. We launched it in the Tarnished Silver and then expanded to the numerous finishes we still do to this day. The Flori pendants made us braver. They encouraged us to step into furniture, into more lighting, into upholstery. And they were the product that helped us realise that our flat could no longer double as a stockroom!”

The…surprise pieces

Graeme: “With every collection we’ve ever done, there are pieces that occasionally do even better than we’d ever hoped or thought they might. Products like that keep us on our toes and help us get to know our customers and what they love even better. A most recent example would be our pizza oven. It’s done so well. We then listen to that and expand, which is why we’ve just released another rusted steel piece or two for the garden – one for cooking with and one for planting.

The…most recent favourites

Lucy: “I always gravitate towards things for the garden. I love the Thrapsano pots so much, both for their craftsmanship and the fact you know they’ll only improve with age and weathering. They always set my heart aflutter – is that tragic?!”

Graeme:  “I think it’s anything that makes the everyday more special, like the simple Aubrey shelf, our garden trug and tools, or the good old Rebecca Williams’ berry colander, which is in constant use in our house.”

The…all-time favourites

Lucy: “Looking back further, I’ve never tired of our Bromley Chair. I’m still as fond of it now as when we launched it. Perhaps it’s because it symbolises the timelessness we always strive for. And it’s versatile – it looks brilliant in so many fabrics, but our Clover velvet is the one I lean to most.”

Graeme: “I can’t choose a single item, but our hardware and bathroom collections are definitely my favourites. Handcrafted, simple designs that suit most settings: in short, everything we want from the products we make.”

The…design that epitomes Rowen & Wren  

Lucy: “I’d say something like the Clara flared glass. I think it’s because it takes an influence from the past and redefines it in a clean and usable way, while keeping all the things we love about the original. It’s timeless and elegant and as much a joy to use as it is to look at. And it’s so understated. They’re all characteristics that I hope define who we are as a brand.” 

The…design that represents our future 

Graeme: “It has to be the Niels sofa, armchair and footstool. It’s handmade in Britain, the quality of the Belgian linen is beautiful, and its design is unique to Rowen & Wren. Walking that tightrope between function and beauty is what makes everyday items special. It makes life better, it’s why we love doing what we do, and it’s why Niels best sums up everything we’ll be channelling effort into over the many more years to come…

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