Ceramics in Britain and France 1921-1931: Economics, Marketing and the Power of Exhibitions
This thesis examines ceramics design in Britain and France, using four British potteries of varying size, status and skill and four comparable French firms as case studies. It will consider working practices and traditions within the British pottery industry, why these attitudes were fast becoming outdated and how new technology was beginning to affect the industry, while at the same time creating uncertainty regarding the safety of future employment. The position in France will be compared with that in Britain, particularly regarding the French ceramic industry’s use of trained designers and their ability to promote new design and re-establish the perception of French pre-eminence in the decorative arts.
Each firm’s design ethos regarding the introduction of new patterns and shapes, the use of trained designers and the relative importance of art education will also be evaluated. However, a wider range of factors will also be examined, including their market position, price structures, individual home and export markets, the introduction of new technology and the use of various marketing tools, especially exhibitions. A study of domestic exhibitions will stress the importance of the annual trade fair (the British Industries Fair) and its nearest French equivalent, the Foire de Paris. The value of small exhibitions organised by individual potteries in their own showrooms, in department stores and even furniture outlets will also be evaluated. Finally, the importance of major exhibitions to the chosen potteries will be assessed, concentrating on the 1924-25 British Empire Exhibition, the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industrials Modernes and the 1931 Exposition Coloniale
A conclusion will be drawn as to how each specified firm responded to changing taste in the 1920s, their success or failure regarding introducing new design, the use of trained designers and technological changes and how they chose to market their goods.