Granby Workshop, in a nutshell, is a manufacturer of architectural ceramics. But, they’re much much more than that.
Their products are designed through extensive material investigations. They combine craft techniques with an experimental sensibility to develop new architectural materials and finishes. Granby Workshop believe in the creative potential of manufacturing and using techniques that introduce chance and randomness to the production line so that no two products are ever the same. Their unique ceramics make distinctive and playful additions to buildings & interiors.
The Workshop was set up by Assemble and the Granby 4 Streets CLT as part of the community-led efforts to rebuild Granby, a Liverpool neighbourhood that was nearly made derelict by decades of poorly-planned regeneration initiatives. A resourceful, creative group of residents started to bring the neighbourhood back to life by clearing, planting, painting, and campaigning. And in 2011 they entered into an innovative form of community land ownership to secure 10 empty houses, and renovate them as affordable homes.
The workshop’s first range of products were designed for the houses being renovated, and included bathroom tiles, door handles and fireplaces – new architectural features made in Granby and reflecting the care, value and creativity invested in these homes. With these first designs, the Workshop developed a distinctive model of designer- led manufacturing – operating at a scale that allows for high quality products to be made, whilst retaining variety in their design, so that each product is different.
The Workshop has since grown considerably, a process accelerated by being awarded the Turner Prize in 2015, and now undertakes a range of commissions, supplying its distinctive architectural ceramics worldwide. These have been widely exhibited, and are held in the permanent collections of the V&A and the Crafts Council. The business remains strongly community orientated – operating from its premises on Granby St and from studio space on Aspen Yard just off Lodge Lane, participating in the monthly community market, and continuing to contribute to ongoing local renovations.
We caught up Sumuyya Khader, the very talented local artist who is also the operations manager for Granby Workshop about the journey and how the last year has effected them:
“It’s been a big switch up for us post Covid. Right now we’re focusing more on our tile ranges making them as quality as possible and introducing our recycled clay body we developed into the encaustic tile range, which we think will be really special! We’ve had to slow down on new product releases as they’re incredibly labour intensive and costly to do – we were having a lot of pop ups and focusing on small batch tableware but it’s difficult to keep the momentum going. It’s been a hurdle getting Granbyware into full production as the supply chain we’d developed fell apart a bit due to the pandemic but we’re finally dispatching the Kickstarter orders and are excited to introduce it officially to the range in the near future – we’re looking to do quarterly store releases online.”