Taking the company name from their child’s mispronunciation of the word “spaghetti,” creative couple Dominic and Francis Bromley founded “Scabetti,” their sculpting business, back in 1999. The duo’s objective has always been “to produce beautifully considered, sometimes quirky, but always desirable objects, made with pride and quality as locally as possible.” Operating out of a studio in North Staffordshire, the Bromleys design and produce every one of their sculptures by hand, making each ceramic piece unique from the rest. The company is set apart from its competitors thanks to its unbelievably lifelike works and commitment to using high-quality, English-sourced materials. In recent years, their products have become immensely desirable in both domestic and luxury markets.
Scabetti’s award-winning “Shoal” installation was first conceived of as a collection of 1,500 English fine bone china fish, all appearing to “swim” in the same direction around a large lighting fixture. John Bromley—Dominic’s late father and world-renowned sculptor—fashioned the original clay figures that would eventually become the inspiration for the project. Shoal was first revealed to the public in 2007 and has since been commissioned for several public buildings and private residences. Every sculpture bears the artists’ signatures as a mark of authentication.
Thin, steel wires coated in white nylon are used to suspend the ceramics from the ceiling. The pieces are hung from varying heights to create a cloud-like swarm, mirroring the appearance of an actual school of fish. The installation’s upper framework is crafted from steel and covered in a powdered white finish to blend it into the artwork. Of course, not every Shoal has to be the size of a grand foyer. Today, smaller, more manageable options exist for personal use. For instance, the “tabletop” Shoal comes in the form of a bedside lamp. Small chandeliers are also available for dining areas, hallways, offices, and living rooms.
In 2009, Dominic and Francis revealed a glass version of Shoal at the 100% Design show in London. The piece consisted of an astounding 386 kiln-formed clear fish. Scabetti has since discussed a colorful future for their glass Shoals, though we have yet to see how that vision will manifest.
As breathtaking as it might be, Shoal is not Scabetti’s first commercial success. In 2003, the company unveiled their “Drawn to the Light” project: a similar installation consisting of several abstract, “three-leaf” cluster forms suspended around a central light. Much like the “Shoal” fish, these clusters were made from pure white bone china to achieve a captivating, translucent aesthetic. When lit up, a Drawn to the Light installation casts whimsical shadows all across the walls of the room it’s in, literally drawing people’s attention to the light. The team’s “Goldfish” collection, which features 186 golden fish hanging from 24ct gold-plated framework, has also been met with positive reception.
Head over to Scabetti’s website to peruse their extensive portfolio, where you can obtain quotes for each design upon request. You can also request “artistic installation” for some of the pieces, in which the Bromleys will personally piece together and unveil your order.