Scene-stealing ceramics

Tradition and avant-garde design fire a V&A collection

A newcollection of eye-catching ceramic designs, resulting from a collaborationbetween Emily Johnson and five other highly creative artists and designers, is a reason to stampede the V&Abefore May.  

Johnson is a fifth-generation descendant of the family that founded Johnson Brothers, the historic Stoke-on-Trent pottery. WhileJohnson Brothers is now part of the Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doultongroup, Emily and her father Christopher set up the company 1882 Ltd just under two yearsago to develop and produce innovative ceramic designs – from vases to lighting– using local Staffordshire manufacturers.

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The fine bone china in this newseries is emblematic of their skill in fusing traditional British craftsmanshipwith a contemporary aesthetic. Take designer Alan Hughes’ Gashubowl, an elegant demi-sphere held in position by ablackened wood stay (first picture, £240; without stay, £160). Or the majestic Doodletron, amagnificent vase by Nicholas Hughes (second picture, £600; limited edition of 50) on whichquill-and-ink drawings telling whimsical stories are etched into themould and cast on the vessel.

Timelessmaterials are united with modern processes in a series of china cups(from £50 for a pair) designed by Fort Standard, a Brooklyn-based designstudio founded in 2011 by Gregory Buntain and Ian Collings. Meanwhile, streetartist Mr Brainwash has applied his signature style of eye-catching socialcommentary to Creation, a monochrome 10in plate (£39), and colourful fine bone china FragileHearts plates (third picture, from £37), mugs (£36) and bowls (£38) – where decorative artworkfuses with practical functionalism.

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Scenestealing are the prototypes of Philippe Malouin’s Dunes tableware. Thesehand-crafted plates and bowls are slip-cast from plaster models and produced using the analogue 3D printing machine on display in the V&A Shop. Some will beavailable for purchase from 1882 Ltd later in the year, but for now their avant-garde production is something simply to marvel at.

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