London Design Festival Highlights: 1882 Ltd at Bamford

shop window display South Kensington

Tucked away in a small white space on the upper floor of a South Kensington boutique, 1882 Ltd at Bamford was one of my London Design Festival highlights, offering a welcome respite from the visual overload of the larger venues such as 100% Design and Design Junction.  Here the objects on display seemed to find a breathing space that allowed the stories behind them to be quietly revealed and brought to life.

Formed in 2011 by Emily Johnson and her father, Christopher, whose career in the ceramics industry spans more than five decades, 1882 Ltd. draws upon the heritage of their ancestors, the Johnson Brothers who began producing ceramics in Stoke-on-Trent in 1882. The company's stated mission is to champion inventively designed ceramic products from lighting to domestic ware whilst employing the manufacturing heritage of North Staffordshire and promoting the British ceramic industry. In doing so they also hope to continue the Johnson legacy with the company name evoking the deep roots of the family heritage. For London Design Festival they presented the work of three designers: Max Lamb, Suzanne Trocmé and Emily herself.

ceramics by Max Lamb

Crockery by Max Lamb (above) is a collection of fine bone china tableware cast from plaster moulds hand-carved by Lamb. There's a lovely series of images of this process here on his website. The collection seeks to demonstrate his commitment to using materials honestly and processes transparently to give both their own voice rather than imposing an aesthetic.

window display of lighting by Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson's Bone lighting collection (above) - translucent fine bone china vessels offer a diffused illumination.


Aspirals, (above) in black and white counterparts, by curator and furniture designer Suzanne Trocmé uses 3D printing technology and powdered ceramic.

By collaborating with talented designers to realise their interpretation of a very traditional material and craft 1882 Ltd hope to bring innovative ceramics to a wider audience while supporting a valuable UK resource. Current work by other British ceramicists appears to point towards a similar aspiration. Perhaps the evolution of the ceramics industry in the UK has turned full circle? After decades in which the industry was allowed to decline through lack of investment in design and a short sightedness that focused on cheap overseas production, there are signs that it is now being reinvented for the twenty first century, and good design is increasingly being seen as key to this reinvention.

Images: Design Hunter