On every table in our restaurants and Houses, from Berlin to Barcelona, Miami to Mumbai, you will find our House White dinnerware. Tough enough to withstand life in the Houses, yet with a delicacy that you only get from fine bone china, it has a timeless style that suits every kind of interior and dish. Soho Home product developer Emily Rubner explained more about the processes that go into making it.

'What’s interesting about House White is that even though it’s plain white dinnerware, it’s made out of bone china so it’s got amazing qualities which can withstand hospitality use. We produce tens of thousands of pieces which are all hand made in China. We have about 26 shapes in our the collection – it’s our most extensive range because it’s used in all the restaurants. Each will go through the process of having a plaster mould made for it which comes in two parts that are strapped together. The bone ash content in our House White china makes it really strong and durable. It also has this translucency which makes it appear quite light, especially compared to stoneware.

Raw materials

'They mix the clay in the factory and it gets extruded out as long cylinders. In the pressing stage, they’ve got machines which are loaded by hand, so they’ll put chunk of raw clay into the jigger – this is where the mould sits - the machine pushes down, the clay gets formed in the mould and the excess is cut off. When the moulds are drying they get checked before they go through the first firing stage. They’re wiped down with water to see if there are any cracks because there’s no point putting them in the kiln if there are.'

A crisp finish

'The pieces get put on wooden boards for a couple of hours to dry. Next they get a first firing to set the clay. The kilns are the length of the factory, they are so long and move slowly to maintain the temperature through the process. When it’s being fired in its biscuit form, it gets an extra mould placed into it which helps keep the shape really exact and pristine. Stoneware can become a bit wobbly whereas fine bone china is really sharp and crisp and that’s what people like about it - it’s exquisite and you get that fineness.'

Polished to perfection

'When it comes out of its first biscuit firing, the lovely thing about fine bone china is it’s a beautiful matt white – when you see stoneware going through the kiln it’s grey. Next it needs to be polished – when you glaze it you want the transparent glaze to have no bumps on the surface, it’s really smooth and glossy. So if it’s a plate for example it goes into a polishing machine – these are small granite stones which you’d think would smash it, but the machine is made out of a rubbery substance and it jiggles it along! They’re all put in by hand and this very smooth abrasive that takes off the unevenness of the clay. Then they’re rinsed and it’s a lot smoother to touch. All the other items, the mugs and the bowls, anything that isn’t a flat surface, are all polished by hand. Each time they’re picked up by somebody they’re checked – you can see there might be a mark where they’ve drawn on it showing something that will need to be polished out at a later stage.'

The final glaze

'Then it goes off to be glazed and the fun thing about white plates is that the glaze is bright pink. It's because they’re applying a transparent glaze onto a white surface and they need it be able to see where it’s going – a bit like fake tan. As you walk round there’s varying degrees of pink shades as it dries. They pre-mix their own glaze and the spray booths are all by hand which gives them consistency. You’ve got white plates everywhere, then all of a sudden you walk into the glazing room and it’s bright pink! It’s quite fun. When it’s fired and it’s checked, if they notice that there’s something not quite right, they might need to polish out the glaze and redo it. All in all, it’s fired three times. After that our logo is silk screen printed onto the reverse and then it’s packed up to go to us.'

Shoreditch House

See our House White china in action in the restaurant at Shoreditch House where it's used from first thing in the morning 'til last service.