Breaking the mould: Stoke-on-Trent's latest pottery mission

The latest sign of Stoke-on-Trent’s revival is the launch of a brand on a mission to show the modern face of fine art pottery

A new pottery brand has arrived in Stoke-on-Trent. Named Design Consort, it specialises in angular shapes and abstract patterns boasting flashes of gold, copper and silver lustre on predominantly white clay ground. There are hexagonal platters covered in upside-down triangles, lamp bases sporting rings of interconnecting circles and elongated vases painted with a network of geometric shapes that, on closer inspection, turn out in fact to be
majestic geraniums.  

The range is strikingly contemporary but the brand is no young upstart. Design Consort is an off-shoot of Moorcroft, the fine art pottery first established by William Moorcroft in 1897 in the very same Staffordshire city. Moorcroft’s highly decorative, handmade pieces still delight collectors today; cosmetics brand Estée Lauder’s president Leonard A Lauder is a fan and The Queen regularly adds a new piece to the Royal Collection.

The new launch is an exciting development, and yet another sign that Stoke’s artisan pottery industry is thriving. ‘The days of 2,000 bottle kilns smoking away have gone,’ says Moorcroft’s managing director and director of art, Elise Adams. ‘But people still want quality and are really proud to support local British industry and traditional skills.’ 

It is this enduring thirst for quality and British craftsmanship that underpins the core values of both brands. Every Moorcroft and Design Consort piece is made by hand at the Stoke site using techniques that have changed little over the parent company’s 100-year history. 

While the two brands share methods and makers, aesthetically they are polar opposites. Where Moorcroft is known for its highly ornamental, representational surface design, Design Consort is pared back, abstract and driven by form. ‘The idea is to open art pottery out to a new, more interior design-focused audience,’ says Adams. ‘Design Consort is shape led. We’re pushing the boundaries of what is and isn’t possible with clay.’

The Design Consort range may not have been created with collectors in mind, but they are undoubtedly statement-making works of art, each piece being created by a team of 15 craftspeople at the top of their game. That the two brands can share every process except Design Consort’s third firing (a requirement of the metallic lustres), yet look so radically different, is testament to their makers’ skills. We can be sure fine art pottery is in safe hands.

* 01782 829999; designconsort.com

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