Olivia Thorpe, Founder of Vanderohe Curio, London
Olivia Thorpe is the wonderful founder of Vanderohe a best-selling British skincare brand. A skincare brand on Maison Flâneur you may ask? Well, not really. Olivia, like many creatives during the pandemic, focused her attention on her home. After working on a set of glass ornaments that she launched as a pop-up at Christmas, Curio was born. Going against the mainstream of fast and cheap products; Olivia wants to create beautiful glass objects that will be treasured for a lifetime, artisanally and sustainably made. We love her colourful stem vase and we can’t wait for you to discover them. We meet the founder of Curio to discuss our new favourite vase.
Could you tell us three things about you?
I have a husband and three kids who I adore completely.
I’m constantly curious and that’s led me to create two businesses in two completely different fields, with another in the works…
My family used to own a bungee jumping hotel in Le Bény Bocage in France, so my siblings and I would spend the holidays acting out Fawlty Towers in real life and watching people jumping off a bridge all day!
What is the story behind your beauty brand Vanderohe?
I created Vanderohe as a necessity for my own skin, which at the time was extremely allergic and sensitive. However, as I realised how universally effective my formula was and set about creating it on a retail scale, my aim was to change the way that people view skincare; to explain each and every ingredient and show where they’ve been grown instead of hiding or dressing them up.
When I launched Vanderohe I had just one product, No.1 Nourishing Face Serum, which became a natural skincare phenomenon almost overnight. Since then, I have developed a range of what I consider to be the number one product in any skincare category. I still create everything myself in small batches in our London studio and I believe this leads to the very freshest and most effective skincare products – not dissimilar to a nutritional approach.
How did that evolve into the brand Curio?
During the pandemic, there was a huge focus on the home and I found it very disheartening that a “fast lifestyle” trend was evolving – touting cheap, factory-made products simply to discard and replace the next season. I started with just a few beautiful glass ornaments that I launched on Vanderohe as a pop-up at Christmas to brighten people’s spirits after such a challenging year, but they were such a huge success that it quickly blossomed into demand for much more. With Curio, much like with Vanderohe, I naturally go against the mainstream of fast and cheap products; we want to create beautiful heirlooms that will be treasured for a lifetime, artisanally and sustainably made.
How did you find the name?
A curio is something unique, to be treasured.
How did you discover the glass blowers you work with?
It was pretty easy research to find them, as I only wanted the very best glassmakers making my designs. Persuading them to take on the work, however, was a much bigger challenge! British glassblowers are mainly artists in their own right, so it’s not so normal for them to create for a brand.
Is there something about the art of glass blowing that people might not know about?
Glassblowing is really one of the most beautiful and intricate production processes I’ve ever seen. From start to finish of any single design, it takes meticulous artistry – something that takes years to master. There are so many components to creating a single piece, from colour application to the finish, and we uniquely do not use moulds, therefore, it’s almost impossible to get two pieces that are identical. It makes our glass very special, but it also requires extreme skill to be able to adhere so closely to a design on scale.
Can you tell us more about the creative process?
I’ve mood-boarded since I was a kid and I constantly do it – even at night to unwind after I’ve put the kids to bed. I’m an extremely visual person and I literally absorb every detail of ordinary things I encounter day to day. So it comes very quickly and naturally to create – whether that is a scent, a particular formula, or a glass design.
What are your tips for the perfect table setting?
Always have flowers – even if it’s something simple. Layer colours – it’s far more interesting than anything monochrome. Speckled glass provides the perfect means to do it (it also allows the table to change with sunlight as it throws coloured shadows). Handwrite a menu and add a little gift on place settings. My mother does this and it adds a really lovely, personal touch.
Any wishes for 2022?
Good health for me and my family.
On a professional level, to bring British glassblowing firmly onto the international lifestyle stage, as it’s such a beautiful and unique art form.