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Out and About: A Trip to William Edwards

I love going to the theatre and I have truly missed it during the past few months. Fortunately, we have been able to bring a touch of the theatre to our latest tea service design, which we have been working on during lockdown.

The Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, one of the most celebrated theatres in London, is currently being refurbished. Having seen our ‘Sailor’s Farewell’ and ‘Mythical Creatures’ dinner services for Wedgwood, we were approached to design a tea service in a similar design thread for the theatre. This will be a theatre experience like no other, where people are able to book specifically for afternoon tea as opposed to just the show.

Whilst celebrating the rich history of the theatre, we wanted to design a bespoke tea service fit for the modern day.

I believe all the best designs tell a story, so we set out to translate the story of this theatre into a design. We discovered there have been three previous major refurbishments of the theatre by three different kings; Charles II, George III and George IV, who we recreated as intriguing characters.

We also looked at shows that had taken place on the stage and archival costume drawings. These provided our inspiration.

Here are some of our original drawings of an actress playing the triangle and a curious batman. You can see we have had fun coming up with the characters!

At the beginning of the project, we visited the theatre building site and witnessed the team restoring an incredibly detailed and ornate safety curtain, which featured an iron gate complete with mythical creatures.

We included some of these friendly beasties alongside crests and badges to link the mythical characters and kings together.

Having seen the newly painted majestic doors to the theatre in rust orange and gold leaf, we decided to use these colours for the designs, complementing a smart navy.

Even the shape, silhouette and weight of the plates, teapots and teacups is an important consideration as this is our canvas, which we apply the drawings to. We want the collection to feel delicate and refined.

On the hottest day of the year so far, we took a train up to Stoke on Trent to visit the William Edwards factory where we will create the dinner service. It’s amazing how much more you can achieve by meeting in person and by learning about the whole process.

We focused on the detail and colours of the drawings, as well as a blanket stitch detail and gold trim. It was fascinating to see the complex process required to achieve the final fired sample.

We used the drawings on transfers to reposition some of the characters. We left the factory feeling confident with the design, but no one really knows exactly how the pieces will look until they are fired, it’s all part of the fun!

William Edwards will take a few weeks to fire the complete tea service. We can’t wait to hold each piece in our hands and to see them in the theatre on opening night.

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