Architecture, Building and Design


Business Growth Progress is significant. Starting with one kiln, the company achieved a £1.2 million turnover in the first year. Adding a second kiln has increased capacity and reduced the risk of disruption due to process failure. The company has increased staff to 36, all former colleagues, and is confident that it will exceed its target of £2 million for 2017/18. The firm’s operations director Steve Allen observed, ‘The flow of work in the construction industry can be irregular and sometimes disrupted due to weather, delayed site programmes and other factors. This poses a risk and so we are developing standard products that are compatible with our bespoke architectural ceramics. This will enable us to balance workflow and ensure that our kilns operate at maximum capacity for greatest efficiency.’ One of those products is sinks. The company has secured a contract to manufacture Victorian-style sinks for the iconic sanitary ware brand, Thomas Crapper. The Whitebirk Industrial Estate in Blackburn, where Darwen Terracotta is based, was developed in the 1960’s, but has a historic link to the manufacture of fireclay sinks from the 1880’s.

Grayson Perry’s ‘House for Essex’, a project that the team completed while still with the previous company, is a good example of the myriad sculptural, colour and textural possibilities. Architectural ceramics feature on the inside and outside of the building with the aim that the house should inspire and energise the occupants. Rebuilding the Business Sales director Jon Wilson explains why he thinks that the new company is being successful, ‘Between us, Steve and I have 50 years of experience in terracotta and faience, having worked on many prestigious building projects in the UK and USA. All of our people have spent most of their working lives in this trade and preserving these skills was vital. We are a close-knit team with a strong commitment by everyone to support the business and succeed together.’ Restoration of terracotta and faience heritage buildings is a key market for the new business, but the team’s skills in design, modelling and bespoke creative glazed ceramics attracts architects and interior designers to innovate by using these materials in new-build projects. A good example of this is Eric Parry’s One Eagle Place in London’s Piccadilly, a mixed use commercial building with ground floor retail units and offices above. Here bold use of primary colour on a white background and geometric blocks on the top facia give drama with modern elegance. Jon observed, ‘The last ten years have seen a revival of interest in faience. We are in the early stages of working with architects Woods Bagot on the Edwardian Hotel Group’s £150 million Leicester Square development. This five-star, 350-bed hotel, combines faience with traditional materials and will have some facing in Portland stone interspersed with panels featuring decorated faience. The project is worth £1.4 million and our largest order.’

The company is confident that it will exceed its target of £2 million for 2017/18

Garyson Perry’s House for Essex – an example of the playful use of faience


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