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Essay: Teapot by Vivienne Westwood

by Penny Martin on 13 June 2004

Penny Martin examines the 'creative capital' Vivienne Westwood bestows on the the classic ceramics firm Coalport.

Penny Martin examines the 'creative capital' Vivienne Westwood bestows on the the classic ceramics firm Coalport.

A crazy hybrid of references contemporary and historical, this teapot is the result of a 'residency' by Vivienne Westwood at the classic ceramics firm Coalport. In such collaborations, each partner benefits from the brand values and design legacy of the other. Here, Westwood gains 'cultural capital' from Coalport's provenance as a quintessentially English firm, operating from the Shropshire town of Coalport from 1750, when the eighteenth century craze for tea took hold. Instead of producing less-expensive ranges for lesser fashion firms as many of her peers have done, Westwood instead partners with a product in keeping with hers; the Englishness and gentility associated with 'taking tea' reflecting the sensibilities and grace of her own work.

The swathe of transfer-printed tartan fabric recalls the punk origins of her designs and the regal orb logo stamps Vivienne Westwood's thirty-five years of audacious designs onto the rather dowdy ground.

Coalport–its factory no longer in production in its original form and now controlled by the rather chintzy, conservative Wedgewood–wins 'creative capital' from Westwood. The swathe of transfer-printed tartan fabric recalls the punk origins of her designs and the regal orb logo stamps the maverick icon's thirty-five years of audacious designs onto the rather dowdy ground. The porcelain teapot is in itself a slightly non-specific re-working of an early Victorian shape, making little directional design statement.

Less a piece of creative innovation - you really need to pore over the pot to distinguish it from those found in provincial tearooms - the Westwood teapot for Coalport is a shrewd and expeditious article of twenty-first century brand consolidation.

'Bruce of Kinnard' porcelain teapot by Vivienne Westwood for Coalport at Vivienne Westwood +4420 7439 1109

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