When Else Wenz-Vietor submitted eight decoration ideas for a Nymphenburg children’s service in the 1930s, she was already one of Germany’s best-known and most prolific children’s book illustrators. In line with contemporary trends, she frequently drew animals and plants with human features. Her imaginative drawings were always carefully preserved in the Manufactory’s archives. Today they appear on various 16-centimetre-high fruit bowls or pastry dishes.
In the 18th century it was considered bad form to use fresh flowers as table decorations. After all, they could wilt. This led to the presentation of fabulous, colourful bouquets primarily on plates, cups and terrines. With them, insects and butterflies also found their way onto porcelain, as shown by the royal “Cumberland” service with its many butterflies. The American designer Ted Muehling selected some of the most interesting insects and applied them to his collection of plates and trinket boxes as an eye-catching feature.
Anyone gaining an insight into the master workshops during a guided tour through the manufactory will discover that handmade plaster moulds, so-called negative moulds, are used in the casting of many individual parts; figurines, for example. Impressed by the simple pragmatism of the mould, Konstantin Grcic used it as a pattern and translated it into a series of porcelain bowls. As the industrial designer was keen to emphasise: “Design does not always mean inventing something new". “New things are created by placing the find in an unusual context”.
On one of his tours of the manufactory, industrial designer Konstantin Grcic from Munich discovered the store housing the countless negative moulds required in the casting of many individual parts. Each and every one of these plaster moulds is handcrafted in just the same way as a piece of porcelain. Grcic adopted the shape and locking principle of the dovetailed upper and lower parts and developed it into a series of practical bowls of different shapes and sizes. This one here measures 17 by 14 centimetres.
White glazed - lid sterling silver
Konstantin Grcic, 1999
Plates, dishes, cups—who among us can say they never wanted to be an architect of giant stacked porcelain skyscrapers. Konstantin Grcic took inspiration from these audacious towers to create a series of receptacles whose form consists of two cylinders lightly pressed onto each other. On top of them can rest either a porcelain lid or in this case a small round silver lid.
White glazed - lid biscuit
Konstantin Grcic, 1999
Despite Konstantin Grcic’s admiration for high-tech mass production, again and again he chooses to pay a visit to the masters’ workshops at the manufactory. The keen eye of the award-winning industrial designer enhances the repertoire with surprising designs like this 15-centimeter long, asymmetrical box. The white-glazed cylinder resembling a stack of plates towards the top third is truly something out of the ordinary. A non-glazed porcelain biscuit lid rests on this.
This gently curving shell by American designer Ted Muehling shows that a spoon can also look very different. Glazed on the inside and with matte bisque porcelain on the outside, the purist form of this eleven-centimetre-long shell spoon highlights the delicacy of the multifaceted material. And those who have concerns about using it need not worry: It is a bit like eating oysters.
Contemporary haute couture kitchens are increasingly resembling high-tech laboratories. It’s a place for frying, experimentation, extraction, and especially for trying new combinations. Happy the man, or woman, who also has the right equipment. The pro reaches for the round bottom bowl made of hand-crafted Nymphenburg porcelain. Appearing in four sizes, the 1865 classic underwent a renaissance to mark the manufactory’s 250th anniversary. Just in time for the discovery of experimental cuisine, in which the tool plays a critical role. And this tool should be every bit as exquisite as the ingredients it is used to prepare.
Be it candied cardamom, curcuma or coriander, this 13-cm round bottom bowl is wonderful for presenting spices. The little spout ensures that not so much as a crumb is lost when the contents are divided into portions. The rounded base of wonderful bowls such as this is as convenient as a mortar for crushing dried berries and grains. Conclusion: A must-have modern cooking accessory for every gourmet household. So, time to get the cooking pot out. Alfons Schubeck wouldn’t believe his eyes.
Long before loft style and industrial chic found their way into the world of design, the first laboratory porcelain came into being in the Nymphenburg manufactory – handmade, of course, like every piece from the master workshops. A wealth of paraphernalia, including the round bottom bowl series, transformed these elegant research accessories into a sought-after best seller. This can be attributed not least to the wide range of uses to which the bowls, between 13 and 22 cm in size, can be put in everyday life.
At the latest since the auction of the spectacular estate of Yves Saint Laurent in February 2009, it has been clear that precious objects are in great demand. The culture of the cabinet of marvels is being practised and nurtured with passion in the 21st century too. A wonderful artefact that must not be missing in any well organised collection is this five-centimetre-high trinket box by Ted Muehling. It is rather nondescript on the outside, but when you open the miniature box you look straight into a blue eye, meticulously painted by hand.
Here, we can certainly take good design literally, as shown by this artefact designed by Ted Muehling. For small treasures that we don’t like to let out of our sight, in 2009 the multi award-winning American designer created the perfect sanctuary, namely this seven-centimetre-high porcelain box. Almost symbolically, the hand-painted eye watches over the treasures hidden within the porcelain trinket box. And whatever they may be is up to the lucky collector.