Whistles Women: Thidaa Roberts
Thidaa Roberts is proof that passion projects do pay off. An architect by trade, she founded ceramics brand Blue Guy in 2014, a mere 12-months after a beginners course in pottery left her hooked. Drawing on an architect's rare ability to blend creativity and practicality, her contemporary, colour-rich pots are now a breakthrough success on London’s creative scene. To mark the launch of our exclusive Whistles x Blue Guy ceramics collection, we spent the day with Thidaa at her studio in East London’s Broadway Market to talk next-gen pottery, personal style and why ‘slow living’ is on the up.
How did you get into pottery?
A great friend of mine invited me to join a class in 2014. He said I would love it, and I did. I fell in love with ceramics from that day, especially work on the wheel.
What’s it been like turning a hobby into a brand?
Having my full time job in architecture meant I could grow the brand organically at a pace that was manageable and fulfilling. It has been extremely rewarding; from meeting people who share the same ambition, to creating pieces with new stories, and most of all, teaching and sharing the craft.
Why the name ‘Blue Guy’?
When I first moved to the UK I used to do a lot of paintings for children’s rooms, made up of various characters that I developed. For some reason, my ‘Sad Guy’ character was one of the most popular, so his face is now the logo of my company. I didn’t want to call it ‘Sad Guy’, so that’s how ‘Blue Guy’ was born.
How would you describe your pottery?
I would call it contemporary homewares. I try to keep my design simple yet colourful, using different glazes on everyday shapes. I’m also currently researching new glazes and looking to make my own.
And your personal style?
It’s casual yet edgy. I love design, so crafted clothing is important to me. For work things are different - it’s a messy job so I always wear my pottery style apron which sort of looks like giant cowboy chaps - clay literally gets everywhere!
How has your background influenced your work?
My dad is from England, my mum is from Thailand, and I have lived in Amsterdam, Texas, New York, Oxford and now East London. With my multicultural background and my parents taking me travelling I got to see quite a bit of the world, so I’m grateful for that; it means I am very open to ideas and diversity within my work.
Why do you think there is a resurgence in craft in the 21st century?
I think our obsession with technology has definitely cooled down now, so there’s a new interest in ‘slow living’. Craft is very rewarding; touching materials and creating something made with your hands (rather than a computer) is very cool.
How can people get involved?
I currently offer two courses at Blue Guy: one is a taster course to see if you like pottery (and you will!) and the other is a more full on beginners course. Each lesson has a maximum of two people and takes place at my studio in Broadway Market. I’m currently looking to expand, so watch this space.