“Beautiful forms and compositions are not made by chance,” said Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the eponymous fine china company. Proving the truth of these words more than 200 years after his death, the house has prudently chosen to team up with British designer du jour Lee Broom to create a limited edition collection of jasperware – four monochrome striped vases and bowls (from £7,000, editions of 15) that offer maverick and modern takes on the pottery style developed by Wedgwood in 1774.
“I don’t collaborate very often, but Wedgwood has a heritage and vision that resonates with what I do,” says Broom. “Jasperware hasn’t been touched by many other designers, so I was very excited to be asked to create these new pieces, and I loved the idea of making a collector’s item.”
The range, available exclusively at Harrods, comprises vases and bowls based on classic Wedgwood silhouettes from different periods, each perched on jauntily coloured spheres and rectangles. The Vase on Orange Sphere (£12,000), for example, is a reworking of the Panther Vase from the late 18th century, so named because its handles resemble panther heads. “I took the shape and then stripped back the ornamentation, which is not only a decorative detail but is also there to simplify the construction of the vase,” says Broom. “This made the piece very challenging to produce. Often the simplest-looking pieces are the most difficult.”
The other pieces in the collection are based on the Acorn Vase, the Mythological Beast Vase and the 1202 Vase. Each has been handcrafted at the Wedgwood factory in Stoke-on-Trent using traditional techniques and contrasts vibrantly coloured lacquered wood with the monochrome, matte jasperware. “Postmodernism has influenced my work a lot over the past few seasons and I felt that this aesthetic, although the opposite of Wedgwood classicism, complemented it brilliantly,” adds Broom.
And while it could be tempting to simply admire these collectors’ items rather than use them, Broom is all for his pottery being practical. “I wouldn’t be against someone throwing some fruit in the bowl,” he says.