“Nature is our muse. It is a source of constant inspiration.”
(Image by Helen Cathcart)
It was a delight to be able to sit down with Milly and Bell, two very talented and eco-conscious women. Milly Hibbert is head of brand and retail development at Thyme* and Bertioli, while Bell Hutley is a London-based artist and designer. Known for her darkly romantic aesthetic and use of colour inspired by nature and folklore, Bell was the perfect partner for mother and daughter team, Milly and Caryn Hibbert, when designing their new tableware range. This talented team are driven by their love for the environment around them. And with that, their hope to preserve nature's fragile eco-systems for generations to come.
Bertioli is a brand inspired by nature. Caryn and Milly design simple yet beautiful products for everyday living that inspire connection with the land and nourish both people and planet. The Bertioli & Bell Hutley collaboration was born from a shared desire to tell the story of nature’s pollinators and to celebrate their magic. This collection of limited edition tableware, illustrated by Bell and Caryn, and designed by Milly, celebrates these vital partnerships between flora and fauna.
A trip down memory lane
The species that their designs have focused on are indigenous to Great Britain, as familiar to us as a farmyard scene or rolling green hills. The Tiger Moth with stingy nettles, Dragonflies and Water Lilies and Sea Buckthorn for the Brimstone Butterfly surround us here in the British countryside. We know them well; spending many youthful hours skipping after moths and butterflies whilst (mostly) avoiding the nettle patches.
Their beautiful and natural designs will create an element of nostalgia for many of you, whilst reminding us too of the here and now. Our responsibility is to protect these delicate species and the nature that surrounds us, whilst being lucky enough to enjoy the beauty in these locally designed homewares.
So Milly and Bell, tell us a little about how the Bertioli & Bell Hutley collaboration came about.
Milly – “We had admired each other’s brands for a while. I knew of her designs and Bell, likewise, knew of Thyme and Bertioli. We messaged each other and we were looking at stocking a few of Bell’s products in the shop as we felt her illustrations would go really well with our lines. But it became clear that we could do more. The creative sparks flew and we aligned quite quickly.
Bell then came down to see us here at Thyme* (in Southrop, Gloucestershire) and our processes aligned really well – from a brand and personal perspective, there is a real passion for nature so the collaboration felt really natural. The design process became one team and we flowed really well.”
The tableware designs are beautiful, can you talk me through the inspiration for the designs?
Milly – “We used what we had in the gardens and farm here to be inspired. Seeing the butterflies flutter past the window here at Thyme felt like we were on to something. We came up with a number of ideas and then settled on our final three pairs.”
Bell – “It was really nice to be able to design tableware around botanicals and species that have had a bit of a bad press. Nettles and moths - they don’t really have the best reputations! So hopefully we are giving them a new lease of life through our designs.”
Image by Helen Cathcart
The botanical habitat designs beautifully complement the species you focus on- Tiger Moth, Brimstone Butterfly and the Dragonfly. How did you come up with the idea to design these as eco systems?
Milly – “With all our products, they are about inspiring a collection with, and a love of nature. There is also a bit of creative license. They are not scientific drawings but a meeting in the middle of creativity and nature. We hope to engage people in the stories of the botanicals and species. We came up with the three pairs and started with what we could see here at Thyme. Bell did some sketches first, and then we added our sketches and it grew from there.”
Image by Helen Cathcart
Milly, Bertioli have a commitment to “1% for the planet”, please tell us a little about that?
Milly – “We wanted to give back to what has inspired us. ‘1% for the planet’ is a big global movement, there are a number of brands who have signed up to it. It is a community of likeminded businesses who give 1% of revenue to environmental causes. This figure allows us to donate significantly, whilst also allowing our business to grow, and ultimately therefore, to donate more. We can choose which organisations and charities to work with and we have worked with a number of them.
This year, our focus is on working with a project close to us - the West Oxfordshire Bird Project. We also work with Plantlife, who work across the country to educate and enable people to preserve meadows as the UK’s most bio-diverse habitat.”
Your mission - to consolidate the idea that in nurturing nature, we nurture ourselves – is one that we all feel a connection to. It’s a mission that works for both Bertioli and Bell too, which is why this collaboration works so well. So, what’s next for Bertioli, and Bell Hutley?
Milly – “We have got many things in the pipeline. I’d love to build on what Bell and I have created here together. In the meantime, we have a few launches in the pipeline – stepping into the interiors world is next. Our ambition for Bertioli is to create a whole collection of connections to nature in the home. We want to take that into all parts of the home – wallpapers and upholstery fabrics, in addition to homeware and beauty. It’s important for us to build on the relationships we’ve created with like-minded brands.”
Bell – “My aim is to continue telling stories through art. Anything beyond the canvas, whether it’s a tablecloth or lampshade, I’m always trying to create new ideas. I love interiors but I’m also writing a children’s book and creating collections around that. I want to push myself and my creativity through the storytelling. I’d love to continue working with like-minded and inspiring brands, I learn so much from it and feel incredibly lucky to be working in what I love!”
To browse or find out more about the Bertioli & Bell Hutley tableware collection, please click here.
*Bertioli is the sister brand of Thyme. Nestled in a Cotswold village, Thyme is a quintessential English country destination. A collection of restored 17th Century farm buildings, houses and cottages, Thyme is a boutique hotel, with on-site restaurant and spa.
More about the Bertioli & Bell Hutley collaboration
In recent years, the fragility of nature has been put at the forefront of conversation, with species decline and habitat loss at the heart. One of the key concerns has been around the health of pollinators and the crucial role that they play in every ecosystem.
With this collaborative collection, we bring together the distinctive illustrations by Bell and Caryn to celebrate pollinators and highlight their relationships with both common and unique plantlife. This will hopefully inspire conversation around the table and a deeper connection to nature.
“Bertioli’s mission is to consolidate the idea that in nurturing nature, we nurture ourselves.” Caryn Hibbert.