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William Yeoward: King William

William Yeoward’s meteoric rise to success as the celebrity glassmaker, and interior designer, has made him a household name to across the world. And, to celebrities and royalty alike. It’s like having couture crystal when there’s one of his pieces set on a table. He’s recently jetted in from his London place, after being in Morocco, when I caught up with him at over breakfast. Both he and his pieces dazzled us all, to say the least.

Lance Avery Morgan: William, before you came along, crystal was considered to be something sort of quaint and grandmotherly. You’ve really revitalized how people view glass, haven’t you?

William Yeoward: I did it because I didn’t like what was on the market. One of the most important things about old fashioned products is that they are perceived in an old fashioned way. I wanted to make it young and sexy again. So, I looked at all these old pieces, and thought, “Right, if we twitched here and moved that a little, we can turn a match striker into a martini glass.’ Things like that. I think the way people perceive it as very modern, and I think its very much more interesting for young people so be shown old-fashioned products in a way they they’d now want.


LAM: So you did it for yourself? I recall that you’ve said, ‘If you can't find what you want in the world, you have two options: One is to forget, the other is to make it yourself.’

WY: Yes, I do everything for me personally.

LAM: Your pieces have that old world antique feel, but they’re not stuffy. Tell me about your vision of that.

WY: As I like to say often, ‘Clean it up.’ I take the shape, and make it speak for itself. And I think that, old world…I think being too much like grandma is a ghastly thought. I think a bride wants to be like her parents, but she wants to map her own identity, and I think she can do that through this product.

LAM: I was in London recently and saw your flagship store…

WY: Yes, yes. Our little crystal shop.

LAM: Was crystal a part of your own family background?

WY: Granny was a serial shopper. She was also a complete and utter divine person. So I thought, well, when I had all this stuff given to me, I thought I would share it, and make it possible for other people to use these gorgeous things. So, in a curious way, by having this idea, we revived the fact that crystal would have died. I mean, all the old companies had become very, very stern and boring. Now they’ve become interesting and balanced.

LAM: Because of you. You’ve raised the design bar. Is there some sort of deeper meaning, to people who collect glass? Are they seeking some sort of inner clarity?

WY: Perhaps. I think what they do is that they think that they are buying glamour. And they are buying glamour. And, I think our things aren’t expensive.

LAM: I’ve found what’s great about your pieces, as opposed to legacy pieces, is that if something did happen to them and they get broken, they can be replaced. Is that that a selling factor to give people comfort in buying your designs?

WY: I think it’s very important that they have the confidence to know that they can get more.

LAM: You’ve designed with all those great ridges… the beading, the details. What inspires you most with that?

WY: The Regency Period was very important. In the Regency time, people were not very ‘decorated’ because we all know that to make a simple piece of crystal is actually more complicated. You can’t have any bubbles, slats, or buckles. Lots of companies were not good at that, so they made things that were pretty salty so they could then over decorate them to cover it up.

LAM: And, you have a whole line of products in your home ware line that helped you branch out into that the glassware? What’s your favorite?

WY: The crystal probably. But, crystal wasn’t the first.

LAM: What was the first then?

WY: Furniture. And actually the furniture business is just the same size as the crystal business. It’s just that it doesn’t happen in America. So, within America, I’m known for my crystal. In Europe, I’m known for everything.

LAM: I have to tell you that your martini glasses are my favorites. Do you have a male following? I know you have a strong female following…

WY: Yes, I think that people with huge amounts of style are interested in my work. I am quite humbled by the fact that people that I consider to be majorly important and that design buy our product. I think it’s fabulous.

LAM: Fabulous because of the way you make glass is so unique. I understand it’s created with natural molds that are made from wood.

WY: You do your homework. Pear trees are used in the factories. When you blow crystal into a mold, it burns the mold. The pear wood is slightly harder, so it lasts a bit longer.

LAM: I’ll bet it takes a long time to design a new piece. I understand it takes you a year.

WY: That’s mainly because I take a long time to get my thoughts together. And I believe very strongly that there are plenty of things available in the market. So when we produce something new we have to make it special, functional, and it’s also got to be beautiful. Crystal is an art, not a science.

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LAM: Do you get your inspiration from living in the country, from traveling? You’ve just returned from Morocco…

WY: Yes. I get it from everywhere, including here in the States. I listen to what people say. And I have a photographic memory. So when I’m traveling around, it can be the weirdest thing that I can notice, and suddenly think ‘I could do that.’ And yes I think, certainly from the point of classical inspiration, Italy, France, Spain and England are great inspiration. For color, for texture, for elegance I think India and Asia are very inspirational.

LAM: Do you personally have a favorite piece?

WY: It’s probably the footed goblet. I used it the day I made it, and I’m using it today.

LAM: If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you have one piece to take with you, which one would it be?

WY: My dog.

LAM: You can take your dog with you, but if you had one piece of your collection to take?

WY: My footed goblet. You can use it for orange juice in the morning, and you can use it for wine at night. And I do say to people, if you can only buy one glass, buy that one because it can make your day start, and end better.

LAM: William Yeoward from dusk to dawn. Any entertaining advice for our readers?

WY: My grandmother gave two pieces of advice that still hold true: ‘if the people at your dinner party don’t know each other, make the table smaller and the drinks stronger.’ And, ‘always invite some handsome men.’