Wedgwood celebrates over 250 years in business
If you’ve never been to the World of Wedgwood I highly recommend you go! Plan your trip this Summer and enjoy the treats in store. Wedgwood UK is a well known brand – admired for its ‘British-ness’ and its longevity (it was founded on 1 May 1759). It’s also much loved worldwide and I picked up some interesting snippets of information during my tour. I was there at the invitation of Amara Living who each year run the Interiors Blogger Awards. They’ve recently collaborated with Wedgewood UK and said,
“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.
I was privileged to be included as one of the five top interiors bloggers in my category in the 2014 Blogger Awards and this helped me make connections in the industry and boosted my interior design business into the limelight.
Here is a group shot; 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.)
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 fab!
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, born in 1955 and only just a bit older than me, is the most popular design internationally and particularly in the Japanese market. You can understand why with its trailing leaves and pretty pink flowers reminiscent of cherry blossom. It is a timeless design and would look great in older properties. (I can imagine it gracing a vintage plate rack in my cottage.)
The tea room serves over 50 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 set up tables like this and to 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 4 or 5 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 40 years!
The museum is light and spacious. It’s very well laid out and the information provided is just enough. If you are 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, as seen in the top image. 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!
(Sorry about the quality of the photo, it was difficult in the museum because of the glass reflections.)
You’ll find Wedgwood is part of the Ceramics Trail and the address is Wedgwood Dr, Barlaston, Stoke on Trent, ST12 9ER. It’s south of Stoke on Trent and well placed if you want to include it in your tour of the area! The site 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!
(All photos taken by me unless otherwise stated.)