Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection
Cake stands (tall and short), $109.95; cake plate with rim, $60; oval platter, $60; side plate, $35.95; ramekin, $35.95 (tall), $30 (short); creamer, $35.95.
Hitting the shelves exclusively at Domayne this month is the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia. The high tea-themed collection - which is handmade here in Australia - comprises eight pieces, including creamers, cake stands, platters and plates in Vanilla, Shortbread, Charcoal and Sage.
Fittingly, perhaps, for a line of fine tableware, the collection started as a conversation at the table. In this case the principals were the editor of Gourmet Traveller, Anthea Loucas, and Robert Gordon Australia's sales and marketing manager, Sam Gordon, having lunch at The Apollo in Sydney. The third-generation Melbourne pottery company's pieces have been no stranger to our pages over the years, so the fit seemed entirely natural.
That was more than 12 months ago, but in a sense the story goes back many more years. It was in 1945 that Sam Gordon's grandparents started their pottery business, Dyson Studios. Sam's father, Robert Gordon, began making pots in the late 1970s and, with his entire family along for the ride, he has grown the business from a modest backyard production to one of the leading (and one of the last remaining) production potteries in the country. Sam and his elder siblings, Kate, Hannah and Bobby, now run the business; it employs 35 people in the Pakenham warehouse on the fringes of Melbourne, a number of whom have been there for 20 years. While the Gordons like to keep it in the family, it's a business with a collaborative heart.
The collection is as much Gourmet as it is team Gordon. For the past year, references have been flying between Sydney and Melbourne. Shapes have been rethought, moulds rebuilt and glazes worked time and again until the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection was born.
GT's food and style director, Emma Knowles, joined Sam, Kate and the design team at the Melbourne factory to oversee the production process. "We wanted our range to have all the little details that we'd noticed were missing from others when we were styling things," says Knowles. "It was important that we were all 100 per cent in love with it. The entire range, sat together, could have come straight out of the pages of Gourmet."
Where the very mention of afternoon tea might have some collectors fearing an outbreak of the tizzy and the twee, the collection takes a different tack.
The starting point for its aesthetic was a box of vintage Italian wallpapers that one of Robert Gordon Australia's mould-makers - a young Italian named Glauco Urbanucci - had brought from Italy. "High-tea stories are usually very floral, but this collection looks at more subtle textures and patterns," says Kate, head of design and development for the company.
Detailed yet practical design is the stamp of the collaboration. Both the cake stands and cake plates, for instance, have a slight lip on the edge, so if you have a sauce or syrup to drizzle over your cake, say, it's got somewhere to go. "There's no point having something beautiful if it doesn't work," says Knowles.
Lace-patterned embossing with a matte finish features across the range, bleeding out in parts to make way for contrasting, high-gloss finishes. The cake stands come in two heights, and break down to be sold separately as ramekins and cake plates, which perform double duty. Platters, creamers and side plates round out the collection. "It was very much about creating something that wasn't already on the market," says Knowles. "No one needs another plain white platter."
While the brief may have been a contemporary high tea, the goal was to create colours and shapes that are unique but also fashion-forward. "I like to think of them as table accessories, a bit like a fashion capsule collection - pieces that can slot easily into and around the tableware you might already have, and that you would update season to season," says Loucas. "Plus it's really giftable and perfect for special occasions such as bridal showers or birthday parties."
Sue Kropp, product development and visual merchandising manager at Domayne, says it's a range for people who love to create a beautiful table as much as they do to cook and entertain. "It's an extension of what the magazine is all about," she says. "Entertaining, experience and escape."
Prices start from $30.