Laurence King publishers recently sent me a pre-launch copy of a new book about Robert Welch by Charlotte and Peter Fiell.
Inviting me to review it is hardly a big ask as Graham and I have long been fans of both the designer and the company and have often given each other selected designs (both historical and current) as gifts at Christmas. As a result we've accumulated a modest sized collection of Robert Welch tableware, candleholders and other pieces.
Robert Welch - Design: Craft and Industry documents the incredible and prolific outputs of Robert Welch, one of the most talented and respected British designers of the twentieth century. It charts his life, from early beginnings at Malvern School of Art and Birmingham School of Art and then onto the Royal College of Art before setting up a successful design practice, workshop and store in Chipping Campden.
Working on a broad range of designs, over several decades, many of which are still in production today, Robert Welch was recognised for his great contributions to design, craft and industry with an RSA award for Industry. He was also made an Honorary Fellow by the RCA.
The book seamlessly flows through historical overviews, design philosophies and the company's evolution, featuring both archival classics and more contemporary designs, all beautifully illustrated with sketches and technical drawings of both craft made and industrially manufactured pieces. There's also a foreword from Alice and Rupert Welch, Robert's son and daughter, now his successors at the head of the family business.
Our favourite pieces, which include the classic designs produced by Old Hall in Walsall, were made, with incredible craftsmanship, utilising the post-war vogue material stainless steel. The early 1960s Alveston tea set is justly described in the book as "arguably one of the finest stainless steel designs ever produced". We use ours every weekend for lazy Sunday morning breakfasts and always marvel at its 'seamless' construction.
So yes, I am biased I know, but this really is a lovely book, perfect for the coffee table, (or in our case the tea tray). Be warned though, you might get hooked and start collecting!
Robert Welch - Design: Craft and Industry by Charlotte & Peter Fiell will be published by Laurence King in September.
Images by Design Hunter.