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« Vintage Ceramics Part 2 | Main | Vintage Enamel »

Vintage Ceramics Part 1

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 by Irene Hoofs

Bloesem on Ceramics


I have always been attracted to vintage ceramics. It combines all things I like about design: prints, colors, illustrations and functionality. Not that I know much about the technique of producing tableware, porcelain or ceramics in general. My only criterion is whether I think a particular piece is beautiful. The variety in vintage ceramics is overwhelming, and the jargon can be confusing: I just use the generic name ‘ceramics’ for all items made out of clay…(or similar material if that is even possible…). My own modest collection of vintage ceramics I found on flea markets and garage sales. Now and again you get lucky and find a really great designer piece… so far I managed to only find Scandinavian and Dutch pieces, so naturally my focus has been on designs from these regions. This read has the same focus. I realize that this is just uncovering a tiny bit of the vintage ceramics that are out there. Great names such as Bitossi or Rosenthal that have designed (and are still doing so) beautiful ceramics deserve attention and their work would easily take up one or more weekend reads… I am hoping to show you some of their beautiful items on Bloesem soon or perhaps in a next weekend read. Just a quick note of caution: the items I show here you cannot find on the companies’ official websites, I found these by looking in books, browsing the web, searching on-line stores and collectors’ websites, where possible I have of course included a link for your reference, but if you really want to find that special piece I encourage you to search for yourself, I am sure it is there waiting to be found!



What amazes me about a company such as Arabia that they have been in business for over a hundred years and have consistently produced high quality and unique pieces of porcelain, ceramics and other pottery. An incredible achievement for – at least initially - a small company established in 1874 in the outskirts of Helsinki. I wonder whether there are still some pieces left (without cracks…) from their first collections…Something that I didn’t know about Arabia is that it was part of Rörstrand for a long time until it became independent. The first Arabia tableware that I saw was at my stepmothers’ place maybe twenty years ago or so, she collects Arabia’s Ruska collection by Ulla Procopé, dark chocolate brown with black lining, a very simple design but absolutely gorgeous on a white table cloth…I had to get used to the dark colors which I didn’t particularly liked at first but  came to appreciate only years later when I noticed the timelessness of the design, it never gets boring. Some of the most famous and talented designers have collaborated with Arabia; to name just a few: Kaj FranckUlla ProcopéToini MuonaBirger Kaipianen, Stefan Lindfors, Kati Tuominen-Niittyla andHarri Koskinen




Johan Jeremiassen established Porsgrunds Porselænsfabrik AS in 1885 in Porsgrund, Norway and started operations two years later. Since then not much has changed at Porsgrund, they use the same original production processes and even the factory looks the same. One thing has changed though: Porsgrund’s reputation has spread around the world fast… and has a loyal following of customers, including the Norwegian Royal Family, so I guess we’re in good company…Porsgrunds celebrates its 120th birthday this year with special birthday collections and offers available in all of their outlets, so keep an eye open to snatch up one of these collector’s items before the Royals beat you to it…




Figgjo was founded in 1941, and is located in Figgjo, near Stavanger, on the west coast of Norway. Figgjo’s delicately illustrated ceramics are characterized by the stories they tell. Collections have names as Saga, Viking, Lotte, Daisy and Corsica. When you put Figgjo on the dinner table your guests will never be out of conversation… the illustrations really fire up the imagination and you will never get bored looking at the amazing Norwegian craftsmanship. These are just some of my favorite designs, they are so colorful and just bring you in a good mood, thinking of a spring picnic or summer garden party…




Gustavsberg history dates back to 1826, but the company has experienced good and bad times during its long existence… The company was broken up in the 1990’s and sold off in bits and pieces much to the dismay of many “Gustavsbergers”. But there was a passionate core of craftsmen and women that have continued producing ceramics and household porcelain in the true Gustavsbergtradition and let’s hope they keep doing this for many years to come. Probably one of Gustavsberg's most famous collections is the “Nobel Porcelain” produced in 1994.




Without a doubt one of the most impressive and oldest ceramics producers in the world is Rörstrand. The Swedish company has been in business for over 250 years and is still going strong. TheRörstrand name is synonymous with high quality and special collections of ceramics. Its history is interwoven with that of Sweden and its designs reflect the cultural developments of the country and the city of Rörstrand itself. It founded Arabia to focus on ceramics trade with Russia. Those lucky Russians… there must be an Arabia piece on every table from St. Petersburg to Moscow…


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