Remember Waterford, the great Irish company that used to be known as Waterford Crystal and, more recently, after it merged with the famous china company in 1986, as Waterford Wedgwood? Well, after a rollercoaster commercial ride, during which Irish billionaire Sir Tony O’Reilly poured oceans of time, love and money into it to try to keep it afloat, it nevertheless floundered and fell into receivership. But now it is back, rejoicing in the simple moniker of Waterford.
These days it is owned by Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton (WWRD), part of KPS Capital Partners, a private equity company based in New York that appears to have a great love for these heritage brands. Under its stewardship, Waterford has embarked on a new enterprise – Waterford Interiors.
Those who’ve followed the brand’s fortunes will be aware that all sorts of illustrious designers – notably John Rocha and Jasper Conran – have been closely associated with it. Now Waterford is expanding out from its “table-top” products and moving into furniture, the eventual aim being to create what CEO Pierre de Villemejane calls “a luxury lifestyle brand”.
First off the production line are some extraordinarily glamorous items, including consoles, coffee tables, chandeliers and enormous floor mirrors. Three designers have each devised a new collection, all of which feature pieces that play on the company’s intimate connection with light glinting off crystal.
Jo Sampson’s London Collection uses state-of-the-art LEDs to illuminate and magnify the cut-crystal facets in her lamps, mirrors and tables (floor mirror, £17,000, and vanity table, £11,500, both in first picture). A mere touch of the hand turns the lights on and off. Sampson’s background at Blacksheep, a leading interior-design agency, has mostly involved creating glamorous spaces for shops, hotels and restaurants (Hermès, The Kismet nightclub at The Park hotel in Hyderabad) – and it shows. All her creations have a geometric, architectural quality, reminding us, says Sampson, “of the midnight skyline”.
John Rocha has created some extraordinary mirrors with immensely ornate frames, made from a multitude of prismatic crystals that send off waves of reflected light. When a single huge floor mirror was displayed in a Harrods window earlier this year, it was bought within hours, despite a hefty price tag of £28,000. A small wall mirror will set you back around £8,000.
Billy Canning, meanwhile, designs Waterford’s famous chandeliers and his new collection, being launched in April exclusively at Harrods, ranges from the classic Ardmore design (from £2,750; version in second picture, £32,750) to the modern, freestanding Etoile II (first picture, £4,100).
You wouldn’t dream of furnishing a home entirely from these collections, but one or two pieces could add drama and transform a humdrum interior into something theatrical and stunning.