Are you a lover of “Courtly Check?” (Just for the record—the Kardashians are.) Or perhaps “Butterfly Garden” is more your style. If these names ring a bell, you’re probably a fan of MacKenzie-Childs. Rebecca Proctor, the creative director for the brand, will be on hand this weekend at Neiman Marcus NorthPark to talk everything M-C with fans. But before she makes her trip to the Lone Star state, we wanted to find out a little bit more about what makes the brand so special. For the full event details, click here—and while you’re there, might as well treat yourself to that last piece of enamelware to complete your collection.
How long does it take to create a piece of MacKenzie-Childs tableware?
Rebecca Proctor: Developing our ceramic tableware is an immensely long process. The idea for a piece, the silhouette and prototype, the materials, the colors, the patterns, and staying connected to the joy of the work can all take the better part of a year in the design process. Once all of that is done and a piece has been fully developed and is ready for production, the potters need to make the ware and the decorators need to be trained in applying the many layers of color and pattern. Actually seeing the pieces through each phase of production gives you a completely new appreciation for all the hand work involved in its making. The length of time for each piece in production really depends on so many things. For instance some of our tableware needs to be fired up to four times, and those firings are quite time consuming. And all our ceramic dinnerware is still made at our studio in Aurora, New York!
What are the most popular MacKenzie-Childs designs?
RP: People love to send me pictures of our Courtly Check Tea Kettles sitting on the stove in their kitchens. I don’t know how that got started but I’m getting quite a collection and I love getting these photographs. So my guess is that the tea kettle is an item that has really struck a chord with homemakers everywhere. The enamelware in general has proven very popular and we are hearing a lot of excitement about Butterfly Garden, our latest enamelware pattern. At the other end of the spectrum, our Chicken Palace Jewelry Armoire has surprised all of us. Who would have guessed that an elaborate jewelry box and cabinet based on our chicken coop at the studio would create such a buzz!
Where do you find inspiration for new MacKenzie-Childs lines?
RP: I get to travel a great deal and I find inspiration in the many similarities in which people everywhere appreciate the idea of “home”– this impulse is the same all over the world. I’m inspired by the way people can immerse themselves in preparing a special meal for family and friends. Design books fascinate me in the way they provide insight into the way great minds work. And I am very sentimental about the smallest of things that I find in markets and antique stores – these little finds often spark the imagination and turn into things you never would have imagined. So I guess you can say that inspiration is absolutely everywhere. All you need to do is pay attention to what’s around you.
Why do you think the MacKenzie-Childs brand has been so successful in the Dallas market?
RP: So many of the pieces in our collection are all about entertaining, and I do believe that Southerners entertain better than any other people in the world. Over the years we have made so many great friends in Dallas and Neiman Marcus is such an important part of our presence here. We so deeply appreciate the way they and other retailers in the Dallas area have given us a stage to tell our story.
If you could only pick one piece of MacKenzie-Childs to use for the rest of your life, what would it be?
RP: I suppose it might be the vintage Airstream Trailer that we converted years ago. It was decorated from top to bottom and was truly one-of-a-kind. Every square inch was covered in MacKenzie-Childs trims, beads, buttons, textile treatments, upholstery, Courtly Check enamelware, fish sinks, mosaic shards, hand-painted glassware, hand-painted furniture, and everything else you could possibly imagine. Sitting in it was like a 1950’s pre-Interstate, age of prosperity travel fantasy. It was one product that came completely furnished so you could hit the road. I think that counts as one?!