The classic British ceramics company Wedgwood is best known for its Jasperware—those ornate blue-and-white pieces more often found behind museum glass these days than on bridal registries. A new collaboration with product designer Lee Broom, however, gives the brand a jolt of modernity with a capsule collection that owes as much to Memphis group vibrancy as it does neo-classic craft.
It’s not often that Broom collaborates with big brands, as Co.Design’s Diana Budds notes in a recent profile of him. Instead, he prefers to have total control over his brand and the pieces he creates. But a partnership with Wedgwood, whose iconic pieces he grew up with in the U.K., still rings true to the designer’s trademark style. As he notes in the same profile, an early apprenticeship with the notorious punk fashion designer Vivienne Westwood led him to a process that looks to “traditional manufacturing techniques, craft techniques, and stylistic things from the past and [reshapes] them for now,” he says.
For the Wedgwood collaboration, that meant taking several traditional silhouettes associated with the brand and stripping them of the classical figures and motifs that typically adorned them. Instead, the bowls and vases that make up the collection feature graphic black and white stripes, asymmetrical design elements, and an electric splash of color. Broom found his inspiration in the Panther Vase, a late-18th-century piece he found in the archives, that has a similarly striped body and two panther heads for handles. The vase was handcrafted in Jasper, a cross between stoneware and porcelain that was developed by Josiah Wedgwood in the 1770s, and still remains today his most famous invention today.
The pieces in the new collection swaps the matte and unglazed Jasper for a glossier, lacquered texture, and the panther heads for minimal, angular handles. But just as the panther was associated with Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and hedonism, Broom’s pieces have a certain punk aestheticism to them as well. Just one more thing he likely picked up from Westwood.