In the early 1950’s Rosenthal, a German maker of fine china, was looking to update their image and break into the American market. To do so they employed the famous Raymond Loewy, who was and is one of the titans of 20th century design. (Loewy is pronounced Lo-ee)
Loewy was recently honored, along with several other American industrial designers, with a series of stamps issued by the USPS last year. Loewy designed a staggering body of work, from trains to
vending machines to buses to pencil sharprners to logos to I could go on and on. He was a true iconoclast and was the first designer to appear on the cover of Time magazine all the way back in 1949.
One of the most beloved lines of work he did was his whimsical and elegant designs for the fine china manufacturer Rosenthal. (He also created a line for French cook wear maker Le Creuset.)
Loewy did three complete design lines with various patterns for Rosenthal in the mid-1950’s – Classic/Modern, Continental and Form 2000. My favorite designs come from classic/modern and especially Form 2000. Which brings me to the point of this post, the absolutely charmingly elegant design “colored leaves” or “bunte blatter” which I have pictured here, which was designed in 1954. Bunte Blatter means “colored leaves” in German, or at least that’s what the internet tells me. The translation machines want to tell me it means ‘yellow journalism” but judging from the patter on these plates, I’m going to go with “colored leaves.”
It seems like most mid-century designers designed ceramics or dinnerware at some point – George Nelson did a line for Florence for Prolon (a line of melamine dishes), Walter Dorwin Teague did “conversation” for Taylor Smith Taylor China. But Loewy’s designs are particularly desirable due to the very high quality of Rosenthal china. It incorporates great design with flawless production.
For more information on Loewy wikipedia has a very informative article detailing a chronology of his design work and there is this site that claims to be the “official site” Raymond Loewy which has some interesting information, including an extensive list of all his clients.
Over the years I have collected several sets of mid-century dinnerware, finally deciding on particular ones to keep and collect. One of the most aggravating parts can be trying to piecemeal together complete sets – a cup here, a plate there, saucer there…. Being able to sets or a number of pieces at one time makes the job much easier. Years ago I broke down and bought a large set of “Blue Heaven’ by ironstone for not a bad price. However, at the time I thought maybe I should wait and just try to find pieces at thrifts stores and fleamarkets for $1 or $2 there. I’m so glad I bought the set, it has saved me much time and aggravation. In the five years since I bought the set I have encountered maybe 4 pieces of “blue heaven” cheaply at thrift stores – occasionally I run into them at antique stores for ridiculous sums.
I’ll be posting examples of Nelson, Walter Dorwin Teague and other well-known designers’ dinnerware designs that I own as well as some really cool mid-century modern dinnerware patterns that don’t have a designer name attached but are awesome all the same – all in the coming weeks. So many things to post about, how did I fall in love with so many different designs and mediums?