17 Sep Wedgwood celebrates over 250 years in business
If you’ve never been to the World of Wedgwood I highly recommend you go! Wedgwood UK, admired for its ‘British-ness’ and its longevity, is a well known and much-loved brand founded on 1 May 1759. I was there in 2016 at the invitation of Amara Living who each year run the Interiors Blogger Awards and they’d collaborated with Wedgewood UK:
‘It is with great pleasure we can now announce that iconic British tableware brand Wedgwood have joined the 2016 Amara Interior Blog Awards as the sponsor of the Best Interior Magazine Blog category. A world renowned institution of elegance and sophistication for the dining table, Wedgwood’s designs have graced the tables of royalty and celebrities for over 250 years and the Gilded Muse collection is the latest print to be added to the brand’s every growing heritage…’ Amara Interior Blog Awards.
As one of the five top interiors bloggers in my category in the 2014 Blogger Awards I found the award helped me make new connections in the industry and it boosted my interior design business.
Nine of us joined Amara to enjoy this very special day, take a look at their fantastic blogs:
Lucy Gleeson – Lucy Loves Ya
Natalia Alexandrou – British Style UK
Anna Lysik – Don’t Cramp My Style
Alina Ghost – The Fairytale Pretty Picture
Jess Warner – The Only Girl in the House
Gabriella Palumbo – Flat 15
Grant Pierrus – Interior Style Hunter
Bianca Hall – French for Pineapple
And here we are standing together with Josiah Wedgwood himself outside the World of Wedgwood main building. I’m third from left wearing my natty mauve velvet trews! (Photo taken by Rachelle Waterfall.)
So what did I learn? Well here are ten facts I bet you didn’t know about Wedgwood:
- Wedgwood, Waterford, Royal Doulton and Royal Albert all trade under their own names but are in fact one company. Although they usually present themselves quite separately in public a Waterford crystal chandelier is included in this Wedgwood tableware display just because it looks so gorgeous.
- On 2 July 2015, Fiskars Corporation acquired the company. This has been a major step forward in Wedgwood’s ability to develop innovative ideas and progress business on several fronts including getting savvy with social media. I remember Fiskars from my time in the hardware trade. The first pair of Fiskars scissors was created more than 130 years ago. It’s one of their most recognisable products and a design icon – you know, the scissors with the orange handles.
- Andy in the retail area told me that the Strawberry pattern design (see top image) was born in 1955 and it is the most popular design internationally, particularly in the Japanese market. Trailing leaves and pretty pink flowers reminiscent of cherry blossom decorate this timeless set of china. I can imagine cups saucers and tea-plates gracing a vintage plate rack in my cottage.
- The tea room serves over fifty different types of tea and Liam is an expert. I’m being treated to some samples here. For tea aficionados they were Sencha Fukujyu, Rose Congou and Oriental Beauty; they were all delicious. I also brought home some Gunpowder! (Photo taken by Rachelle Waterfall.)
- The current favourite design in the UK is the Arris range which combines ceramic and metal with great style. I’m told you can put this in the dishwasher if you use a detergent recommend by Wedgwood. Metallics have been trending in interiors for a few years now and there’s no let up in their popularity.
- I was impressed with the stylish surroundings at Wedgwood and the wonderful displays. Much of this work is the responsibility of James Bentley who leads the merchandising team. It must be great fun to dress tables and design for exhibitions and shows. The team works across all four brands.
- Bone china is made from china clay and cattle bone in equal proportions. I hadn’t really thought about why china was called bone china…. so now I know, and so do you… maybe you knew that already?
- Every cup handle is attached to a cup by hand. John makes 13,000 of them every week and a small team of four or five people attach them. You’d think the repetitive nature of this work would send people crazy but we met quite a few staff, because they were all working while we were there, and I can honestly say there was a really positive vibe in the factory. One of the gilders, Bruce, has been there for some forty years.
- The museum is light and spacious. It’s very well laid out and the information provided is just enough. If you’re studying social history, art history or are interested in pottery and ceramics you will find it very informative. The Wedgwood family was painted in 1780 by the renowned English artist Stubbs. Apparently Josiah never really liked the painting and was critical in particular of the depictions of his wife Sarah, and their daughters Susannah and Mary Anne.
- Josiah Wedgwood was a clever man – he aimed to please everyone and offered customisation of his popular patterns. You could choose a pattern and have your china made in any colour but I’m sure this was a service offered only to the wealthiest of clients.
Wedgwood, Wedgwood Dr, Barlaston, Stoke on Trent, ST12 9ER.
The site is south of Stoke on Trent and comprises factory, museum, showroom, dining hall, tearoom and discount shop. There are opportunities to get creative. You can design a plate or make a pot. But whatever you do, make sure you stop for tea!