If the timeless elegance of English design has ever tugged at your heart, influenced your taste or helped shape your world view of interior design, then “Wedgwood: A Story of Creation and Innovation” will resonate. One of the most distinguished china brands in the world, Wedgwood is the essence of English design and craftsmanship. With rarely-seen photographs, drawings and watercolors from Wedgwood’s extensive archive dating back to its founding in 1759, the book is a gorgeous visual celebration of English design. Unlike previous volumes that were geared to serious collectors only, this one will appeal to interior designers, collectors and everyday lovers of English country homes, art and fashion.
The pioneering, innovative spirit of Wedgwood that emanated from its founder Josiah Wedgwood leaps up from every page. Visionary entrepreneur Wedgwood was a transformational figure whose understanding of taste and fashion enabled him to elevate pottery from a cottage craft into a luxury good, an art form and a global enterprise. Recognized as “Potter to Her Majesty,” Josiah built one of the most modern factories of his time, “the opening of which coincided with the arrival of the dominant Neo-Classical architectural style and the development of great new country houses, inside which ornamental vases became one of the most important aspects of the interior décor,” author Gaye Blake-Roberts told Hadley Court.
“Vase No. 1,” pictured above, was the first hand-drawn shape in the factory record of ornamental wares manufactured.
Josiah Wedgwood was the creative mastermind behind Wedgwood’s most enduring collections, including Queen’s Ware, Black Basalt and Jasperware. Wedgwood was also an early champion of design collaboration. That tradition of collaboration continues at Wedgwood today, with celebrated designers such as Vera Wang and Jasper Conran.
Pictured just above is one selection from the prolific Vera Wang Wedgwood line, the Simplicity Indigo Chevron Dinner Plate.
Dating several centuries earlier, the bowl pictured above the dinner plate is the Centrepiece Bowl, circa 1790. The bowl is crafted of solid blue jasper with applied white and yellow strapwork in a basket weave pattern. Four applied flowers inside the bowl are there, possibly to support a pierced cover.
The chic Rayne Shoe Heel above, circa 1960-1970, is another example of Wedgwood’s history of design and manufacturing collaboration. Beginning in 1958, Wedgwood manufactured a range of different styles and colors of jasper shoe heels for the British manufacturer Rayne Shoes. Available until the early 1970s, matching handbags with jasper ornamentation were also offered. Rayne produced shoes for Queen Elizabeth II, as well as many other members of the royal family.
With strawberries and cream being an English institution, the succulence of wild strawberries inspired the Wild Strawberry Collection, above. The collection features crisp and clean white bone china decorated with finely drawn leaves, flowers and succulent red strawberries. A lustrous rim of 22-carat gold completes the decoration of this elegant and whimsical dinnerware collection.
Above, the Parapet-Shaped Teapot, circa 1812-1828, is crafted of bone china, hand-painted with pattern number 619: “Green leaves, shaded in black and red flowers, red brown leaves to them, lines gold.”
It is believed that the inspiration for the “Water Lily’ pattern came from John Wedgwood, Josiah’s eldest son, who was particularly interested in horticulture and was one of the founding members of the Horticultural Society, later the Royal Horticultural Society.
A fascinating point of trivia about this earthy and organic pattern: it was erroneously called “Darwin Water Lily” because a set was given to Susannah Wedgwood Darwin, Josiah’s oldest child, by her brothers as part of her wedding present. She went on to become the mother of Charles Darwin.
“Wedgwood’s principal legacy,” believes Blake-Roberts, “was marrying art to industry and applying the principals of formal beauty to things of everyday use”…”Josiah rightly earned the tribute paid to him by William Ewart Gladstone, when in 1863 he commented that Wedgwood was, ‘The greatest man who ever, in any age or country, applied himself to the important work of uniting art with industry.”
Photos courtesy of Rizzoli New York
Photo 4: wedgwood.com
Kim Darden Shaver
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Editor In Chief
Leslie Hendrix Wood Interiors
Gracious Living. Timeless Design. Family Traditions.
Photos Courtesy of Lexington Home Brands. Photos 6, 9, 10 & 11 by Author.