I knew that Royal Doulton’s celebration of 200 years in Sydney was going to be special from the moment I received an invitation printed on the back of a plate. With an image of a bowler-hatted gent standing in Sydney harbour painted by street artist Nick Walker, one of Royal Doulton’s most recent collaborations, this elaborate gesture was the first of a series of wonderful moments, especially for a ceramics nerd like me.
The event itself was spectacular, held in a cavernous space at Sydney’s Fox Studios, with a specially-built timber-gridded mini pavilion constructed inside, showing groupings of the work on each shelf. In the next room, a sit down dinner was held along five long tables – one for each designer/collection.
With beautiful styling by Stephen Cordony, the table settings featured the ceramics of that collection grouped with flowers and foliage, while the designer for that range was flown from London as the guest at their own collection’s table. MC’ed by the capable and funny Fenella Kernebone, each designer also spoke to the assembled group in between each course, served on Royal Doulton of course.
Jay Osgerby of British design duo Barber Osgerby (profiled last year on this blog here) was spoke about their new range OLIO featuring jugs, vases and other piece with beautiful, almost classical curves, designed for everyday use, with glazing in greens, browns, grey and white, tying in beautifully with the pair’s focus on British design. He explained that he and partner Ed Barber love making things, and that they made “about a million” jugs to make sure they didn’t dribble.
Street artists Nick Walker and Charley Uzzell Edwards AKA Pure Evil gave the pieces edge, with their gritty aesthetic that features the bowler hat for Nick in cityscapes and the fanged bunny for Pure Evil – he delighted in leaving the bunny figurine at Sydney landmarks like the Manly ferry and Bondi during his visit.
Father and daughter design team Wayne and Tilly Hemingway shared the dangers and delights of a family design dynamic, the result of which is a fresh, thoroughly contemporary range with pale blue-greens, orange and yellow tones alternating in crisp white, bringing the success of the Hemingwaydesign fashion brand to ceramics.
And fashion illustrator Charlene Mullen brought her signature style, almost a pen and ink aesthetic, to ceramics for the first time with her range for Royal Doulton, including a marvellous range of London cityscapes, and some beautiful geometric patterns (see a video previously shared on this blog here).
Each have worked closely with Royal Doulton Designer Dik Delaney to create something unique and innovative, and the pride of Michael Doulton (the great, great, great grandson of John Doulton, the founder of Royal Doulton) in the brand was evident when he spoke to the crowd.
Interestingly, a larger percentage of Australians own Royal Doulton than in any other market, including the UK, and it is true that most of us grew up eating breakfast on Bunnykin plates and bowls. So it was very special, not only for the assembled design community, but also for Royal Doulton to celebrate their continued innovation here. And, as Fenella Kernebone pointed out, how many companies in the stratosphere can claim to have been so successful over 200 years?
More on Royal Doulton.