Joseph Hartley

The MADE NORTH Gallery presents new and experimental work by established and emerging northern designer/makers. We aim to promote a range of northern designer/makers and provide opportunities to find out a little bit more about how they work and their sources of inspiration.


Studio portrait taken  by Anatomy Projects. Shot on  a Victorian studio camera for which Joseph  made the replacement bellows.

Joseph Hartley is a designer based in Manchester. In his workshop he uses refreshingly low tech processes to work wood, cloth and clay. The playful objects he makes are the result of an overwhelming interest and curiosity in the simplest of day to day tasks. Before working with materials Joseph worked with ingredients, first as a butcher and then in a bakery, and there is strong evidence of these earlier roles in his current work. Joseph often goes by the title of the Butcher, Baker, Designer, Maker.

Joseph was commissioned by MADE NORTH to produce a Northern Tea Service as part of their Northern Industrial Project. Joseph has explored the notion of being industrious, through tea.

He says ‘There is a saying in English tea making circles: “I’ll be mother”. This is stated by the person who pours the tea as one person tends to do the whole lot and this, for sure, is not industrious. In my tea set each person is represented by a cup, quite normal, but each cup comes with a partner tool. This tool enables that person to accomplish their role within the ceremony. Without everybody completing their job, nobody gets any tea; now that’s industrial, and you could say it puts the tea in teamwork.’

The items displayed within the MADE FRESH exhibition show prototypes and the development of the set, with the evolution of the components laid out to give insight into my design process.

Featured Designer/Maker Interview



Images showing the ‘Makery’ collection

Who or what inspired you to become a designer/maker?
I’ve been making things for as far back as I can remember. As a young child my parents took me to pottery classes. They happened to be at Michael Eden’s Pottery in Cumbria. So being exposed to that so early on coupled with the grand land we possess in that area, I guess I had no choice other than to be a material led designer maker.

How would you describe your work?
My work is stripped back and lean. I use simple materials and simple processes that allow the materials to breath and speak for themselves.
I like the word lean to describe my work, as I worked as butcher during my twenties, I think you can see the influence of working with industrial equipment in the objects I now make.


Handmade wooden honey dipper


Ceramic Vessel

Where are you based? Please describe your studio.
I live and work in Manchester. I share my workshop with 3 other designers, two of which I studied with. This seems to work well as we all work in complimenting ways.
We have the studio split into 3 sections, wood, ceramics and textiles. Each of us take care of various bits of kit but we share it all really.

What piece of work are you most pleased or proud of, and why?
I’m quite fond of my ‘Bottle with Peg on Lid’, it seems to please people when they play with it, I can see them smiling and I like that, it means I’ve done my job properly.
I also think it represents me very well, an element of thrown clay with the introduction of a second material that’s playful and useful.



Ceramic cups. Photography by Emily Dennison

What is the most satisfying part of the work you do?
Just being able to make things with my hands, it’s the only thing that keeps me sane.

What would be your dream project?
The Northern Industrial Project!!! I always try to treat current projects as the ultimate, that way, in theory, it keeps you on your toes.


Northern Tea Service prototypes early stage plans


Northern Tea Service prototypes in Joseph’s studio

When you’re not working what do you like to do?
I like to cook (but that aids my work) I like to walk, cycle and sew! although the sewing is becoming work, so I’ll need a new activity.

What does the north of England mean to you?
Home, trains, red clay, big trees, huge hills, deep valleys, great walks and…….quicksand.

See Joseph’s range of prototypes for the Northern Tea Service in the MADE FRESH exhibition, you can also find more information here: