Emma Johnson designs Brutalist-inspired ceramics

Kate Brewer | November 24, 2016

Brighton-based ceramic design graduate Emma Johnson looks at Brutalist architecture with a fresh pair of eyes and modern approach to create her latest collection.


Emma Johnson’s latest collection, entitled Atro City, takes inspiration from the often heavy and asymmetric forms of Brutalist architecture. She has re-imagined the aesthetic with a fresh and modern approach, creating a series of simple ceramic forms.


The collection comprises a tea pot, cup and saucer, sugar bowl and milk jug in a range of muted tones in off-white, steel blue and two shades of grey. She has combined the angular and ribbed porcelain forms with beech wood detailing for the cup handle, and tea pot and sugar bowl lids, with exposed fixing rivets.


“I love precise and angular forms, so I am often drawn to architectural shapes and details as starting points for my projects,” Emma tells Design Geek. “The collection aims to show the recent shift in opinion surrounding Brutalism, portraying it in a fresh and modern light, away from past negative associations. The simplicity of porcelain conveys this clean and modern aesthetic and allows the forms, which are designed around the functional needs of a tea set, to speak for themselves.”


Emma has extended the domestic tea set with a range of small dishes and bowls in the same range of colourways, offering a mix-and-match approach to the pieces in the collection. The individual pieces are also stackable, creating mini-monolithic towers in a further nod to the Brutalist era.


She also has plans to expand the collection further to include vases, serving bowls and storage containers. “I like the pieces I create to be functional,” she explains, “And have really enjoyed how this project has made me consider the purpose of a piece and how to fulfil this purpose with the simplest possible design.”


Taking on Brutalism is not a new line of inspiration, but the way that Emma has created a fresh, modern perspective with a domestic collection, adds an interesting twist. The use of the Modernist principles of ‘form follows function’ and ‘truth in materials’ is evident in her approach, highlighting honest detailing with a practical kit of parts. The collection’s ability to be extended, added to and mixed is also a clever addition, and with Brutalist references at its heart, the possibilities for design are seemingly endless.


Emma Johnson studied MDes 3D Design and Craft at the University of Brighton, specialising in mould-made ceramics. She is currently creating and developing work from her shared studio in Brighton.

Emma Johnson is one of Look Like Love’s ‘One-to Watch’ designers, find out more about her work here

Further Reading for the Especially Geeky ::

Contributing Writer – Kate Brewer

Interior designer Kate Brewer, established Look Like Love in 2011 as a platform for new designers. She writes a weekly column for confessions of a design geek showcasing the new talent she discovers. She has worked in the industry for 11 years as a retail interior and furniture designer for brands including Mulberry, All Saints and Selfridges. Over the past four years, Look Like Love has established an e-commerce site, and showcased new talent as part of London Design Festival in 2013 and 2014, and opened a week-long pop shop as part of Clerkenwell Design Week in 2015.

Follow Kate on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

See more of 's Posts


Follow us
on Instagram