Emma Bridgewater Ltd was born in 1985, when Emma was looking for
a birthday present for her mother. She wanted to buy a cup and saucer,
but in the shops she couldn’t find anything that she liked; the choices
seemed to be either bewilderingly formal bone china with stiff silver
or gold patterns, or clunky earthenware.
She liked some of the colourful Italian designs that she saw, but being made of terracotta they would crack or chip in the dishwasher. It was one of those “kerching!” moments - here was the opportunity she had been looking for; the pottery she sought for her mum was what every cosy kitchen needed. So she set out to design it herself. Emma drew four shapes, a mug, a bowl, a jug and a dish. She went to Stoke-on-Trent to find a model-maker; she worked with him to get these first pieces just right. Luckily, her strong preference for cream earthenware was easily met as this was still in wide production in many large and small potteries in the city.
Staffordshire earthenware has had a world-wide reputation since Josiah Wedgwood pioneered his beautiful creamware in the early 1800s. When her shapes were sampled, she started experimenting with the forgotten decorative technique of sponge printing, applying simple patterns with a cut sponge. She showed these samples to a selection of buyers, who almost all placed orders, and the show was on the road.
Stoke-on-Trent, the midlands city known as The Potteries, became the focus of Emma’s working life. At first she had her designs made under contract, but within a few years her company acquired their own manufacturing facility and soon expanded into a big nineteenth century factory on the Caldon canal, where they still make all of their ceramics (with the exception of some lines such as plates, which are locally outsourced).
Today Emma’s husband Matthew also designs for Emma Bridgewater, he has his own range within the Emma Bridgewater collection. This includes the annual series of charming and humorous advent calendars and his legendary Year in the Country calendar, which you will see in all the nicest kitchens. This annual must-have has a cult following, because it is useful, beautiful and educational; each month features interesting facts and tips about subjects close to Matthew’s heart.
They are the sixth biggest employer of potters in Staffordshire. Stoke-on-Trent and are rightfully proud of their reputation as home to the Potteries They make their wares in a warm cream coloured earthenware which is a quintessential Staffordshire product; drawing on a long and well-evolved expertise and a tradition which stretches back 200 years.