Artists and creatives from Australia and around the world.


The Mod Collective

Eeeeh! I've been so excited about writing this post for so long and it's finally come together... Why, I hear you ask? No, i'm not a freak and I don't normally get googly-eyed and giddy excited about stuff... but I really am in love with The Mod Collective and when owner Valissa Butterworth said she'd be happy to be interviewed for the blog I was more than a bit ecstatic! The Mod Collective is the epitome of cool design. Valissa, a hard working Australian mum creates the most beautiful ceramic tableware and lighting. 

The Mod Collective porcelain tableware is first conceptually developed using design software and then printed on 3D printers in various mediums. Pieces are then moulded and cast by hand by Valissa herself, using coloured porcelain. The insides of each piece are hand finished and glazed with a clear gloss glaze to make them food safe. The exterior of each piece is left unglazed, revealing the tactile and beautiful patterned surfaces.

Here's my short chat with Valissa!

Q. What is your background and have you always been interested in ceramics?
A.  I was never really moved by ceramics.  I studied Interior design initially before moving into horticulture and landscape design.  I worked at that for a while and completed a diploma in ceramics at night.  I was initially producing tiles but soon became immersed  in coloured porcelain. The decision to undertake an arts degree was the point of no return, I had found an area that held so much potential for creativity. 

Q. How did The Mod Collective begin?
A. I began the business while designing landscapes.  I was producing modular 3 dimensional wall panels and tiles for use in the landscape sector. The highlight of this early phase was having my wall panels featured in last years gold medal Chelsea garden by Jim Fogarty for the Royal botanic gardens. It was a slow transition to table ware and lighting but that has now become the focus of the business.   

Q. What made you want to start your own business?
A. Starting the business was a by product of my desire to design. When I started designing and producing I needed an identity and so the business emerged.   It really kicked off though when I had number one child... I had to make it work or go back to work... There's no greater motivation than building a successful business based on your creative ability.   

Q. Why the name 'The Mod Collective'?
A. Mod refers to "modular", this is a direct reference to my design collection.  My computer generated designs are repetitions of a single pattern, the computer package interprets the pattern across a surface and the object is realised.  The "collective" is a simple reflection of the collection of products  I design and manufacture. 

Q. What has been the hardest part to running your business?
A. Being a one person operation is difficult, I am the designer, maker, admin person, PR lady and on and on.  Finding enough hours in the day is hard, especially with 2 little people in the house.  It's a steep learning curve, often the hardest part is getting people to understand that I have limited resources, I cannot mass produce work, nor do I have any desire to.  Each piece that leaves my studio is completely hand made by me. 

Q. What has been your greatest career achievement so far?
A. Developing the tableware was a massive endeavour so the overwhelming response has been a huge highlight.  I have really enjoyed the development of the new products i'm about to release though. I have been fortunate in that I'm collaborating with some very talented and experienced designers and makers.  The results are stunning and I'm releasing these at Design Made Trade this year.  
Seeing each new design come to fruition is something special, when it involves 3 other craftsmen though it's really quite something.  I love that. 
Having my work chosen in craft Victoria's Fresh awards is also very high on my list of achievements, this is a wonderful platform for emerging artists and I am very honoured to have been given that opportunity. 

Q. Where do you hope to see yourself and The Mod Collective in 5 years?
A. I'm not a great forward planner so I'm not really sure about this.  I'm looking at hiring a person to help me at present and I'm getting alot of overseas attention so I would say its all pointing to growing in the next 12 months so I can confidently expand into international stockists and continue to develop new works.  I'm about to release 3 new lighting collections and a new tableware range so in order to be able to distribute the work I have no choice but to expand.  Might need to seek out a good small business advisor too I suspect! 

Q. Who/What inspires you?
A. Architecture and 3d design/modelling inspire me creatively.  I also love the contemporary paintings of Francoise Nielly, among others. 

Q. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
A. I have to wrangle 2 small people before anything gets done.  I drive to the studio, have a coffee with my parents and hand over control of the 6 month old for a couple of hours.  Day time hours are for production so I can be pouring, glazing, despatching, firing or all of the above.  I have very limited time through the day so all of my emailing and paperwork gets done at night when the little peeps are sleeping. 

Q. How do you find juggling kids and a business all at once?
A. Really really difficult! If I didn't have great support from family I wouldn't be able to continue.  

Thanks so much for sharing Valissa!

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