The V&A’s Ceramics Archive Inspires a Stunning, Contemporary Tableware Collection
British tableware designer Richard Brendon reinterprets four of the museum's antique illustrations into a striking new array of plates, cups, and mugs
Renowned for his exquisite bone china tableware, Richard Brendon collaborated with London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on his new collection. Building on the success of Reflect, mirrored teacups he created in 2013 to be paired with antique saucers missing their matching vessel, the designer teamed up with illustrator Chris Martin to reinterpret four patterns from the V&A’s ceramics archive which are rendered on an exquisite array of mugs, cups, and saucers.
For this debut collaboration, Brendon introduced Tree of Life, which reimagines an antique design’s peach background in a more exuberant cobalt blue; Mythical Beasts, an expressive array of Japanese dragons which draws inspiration from multiple archival patterns; Dragon Flower, that reimagines the blooms in a traditional Spode print as dragons; and Georgian Lilies, which builds on a customary blue-and-white design by introducing caterpillars and butterflies.
“The designs are exceptionally beautiful, a little bit eccentric, and I thought they represented the Regency era very well,” says Brendon of the pieces, which elegantly pair with Reflect’s gold and platinum teaware. “The patterns we have taken inspiration from are all highly decorative, skillfully hand painted, and have an Asian influence, from the subject matter to the color palette.”
Epic in size and scope, the V&A’s ceramics holdings includes pieces dating back to 2500 B.C. and features works from China, Japan, and the Middle East; porcelain figures from Meissen, Germany; and Dutch Delft pottery, among others. “The V&A’s ceramics archive is truly world leading and they have a spectacular collection of early British porcelain, which I’m particularly interested in,” Brendon tells Galerie. “For a long time, I’ve started design projects with research at the museum so I was already quite familiar with the Georgian pieces which are on display. However, getting to dive deeper into the museum’s archives has been a real treat.”
“We had to recreate the finesse, detail, and perfect imperfections that you can only achieve when drawing or painting by hand”Richard Brendon
This also marks the first time Brendon has teamed up with illustrator, Martin, a long-time acquaintance. “We knew we had to work with a really good illustrator to bring the collection to life, because the original Georgian pieces were hand painted by some of the most talented artists of the time,” says Brendon. “We had to recreate the finesse, detail, and perfect imperfections that you can only achieve when drawing or painting by hand.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2021 Fall Issue under the headline “Fashion Plates.” Subscribe to the magazine.