The essence of great design is often best characterised by the “less is more” concept. Simplicity and function are, for me, the overriding tenets. Quoting Simon Alderson, the co-author of the amazing “Phaidon Design Classics”, “A ‘design classic’ is an industrially manufactured object with timeless aesthetic value.”
Strip away the marketing, the spin and the product placement and Falcon Enamelware’s blue and white enamel mugs are not only aesthetically very pleasing, they are a joy to own and use.
Whether you first met this iconic product on a camping trip in the 1970’s – when I regret to say a large mug was used to see home wooden tent pegs in place of a mallet – with remarkably little damage – on the shelves of design-led stores like Selfridges (where I first met Mrs W), Heals or Liberty (all in London W1), Unison (in the US) or on the desk of the presenters of Amazon’s “Grand Tour”, the Falcon enamel mug has a timeless elegance.
Like Mlle. Chanel’s “Little Black Dress” there is pretty much nowhere that a Falcon mug would be out of place.
Falcon Enamelware was established in 1920 in an area of the Midlands (UK) around Birmingham known as “the Black Country” – which gained its name in the mid nineteenth century due to the smoke from thousands of ironworking foundries, forges and a shallow coal seam – by local entrepreneur, Joe Kleiner.
And here’s the science bit…enamelling is an ancient technique of fusing glass onto metal. Its uses are many and varied including some of the most beautiful jewellery think Faberge Eggs, Cartier watch mounts and Rene Lalique’s ornaments.
Falcon fuse porcelain at very high temperatures – enough to cause the porcelain to liquify – onto heavy-gauge steel to make a whole range of drinking, cooking and baking ware. Because of its manufacturing process Falcon’s enamelware is, of course, dishwasher and oven safe up to 530F / 270C. It is gas and electric hob-safe, resistant to chemicals and can’t be burned.
One word of caution, Falcon’s enamelware, is highly versatile, but please don’t use it in a microwave – its metal based after all!
Sadly Joe Kleiner & Sons collapsed into liquidation in 1994. Creative directors Kam and Emma Young (from the Kiwi & Pom Design Agency) took over the creative direction of the brand and now guide the redevelopment of the Falcon range.
In 2011, in collaboration with Hugh Morse (brand identity specialist) and, businessman, Peter Hames, Falcon’s range was refreshed with the addition of colourful and strengthening additives to the enamelling process to create new colours and to improve durability. If you drop a piece of Falconware, after all it’s glass based, it won’t break but may well chip.
Images courtesy of Falcon Enamelware