When the doors of the Herend factory first opened in 1826, the company primarily created earthenware pottery but there was something exciting being cooked up behind the scenes. Founder Vince Stingl was conducting research experiments in porcelain creation a mantle that was later taken up by Mór Fischer, who acquired the company in 1839 and began producing artistic porcelain pieces within the year.
Time for Tea
This foray into artisanal dinnerware couldnt have come at a better time. Just across the channel, England was enjoying the birth of the afternoon tea trend, introduced by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford as a combatant to hunger pangs between breakfast and dinner.
As any experienced hostess knows, table settings are as important as taste when serving afternoon tea, and serving your guests with a Herend Porcelain tea set quickly became a sign of high social standing a status it still holds today.
The Art of Design
While porcelain has been used across the world for many centuries, Herend was one of the leading European brands responsible for elevating it into art. In 1842, the company took home a bronze medal from the Hungarian Industrial Art Exhibition and that was only the start of its success.
By 1851, word of the brands designs had spread across Europe, and Herends porcelain made its debut appearance at the Great Exhibition in London that year. Here it was spotted by Queen Victoria, who ordered a beautiful butterfly and floral patterned china set that was later named after her.
The tradition of naming ranges for their most elite customers has continued, and today youll find Apponyi (named for the Hungarian noble family), Rothschild (named for the wealthy European house) and Windsor (named for the British royal family) all listed under Herends product ranges.
Putting the focus on design proved to be vital to Herends success. When Mór Fischers sons took over the company in 1874 and shifted focus away from the art, Herends sales quickly began to decline. It wasnt until experienced ceramist Jen? Farkasházi took the reigns that Herend Porcelain regained its popularity.
While Herend has returned to its original ethos, it has experimented in other areas. Upon the appointment of Ede Telcs as artistic adviser in 1929, the company began to dabble in figurine design an art that it is now known worldwide for. The companys designers also branched out into vase making, creating an extraordinary ornamental vase for Parliament in 1954, with a complex three-part design that spanned over 2 meters in height. A similar fete was achieved in 2010, when Herend supplied a meter-high Victoria vase to celebrate the Hungarian presidency.
Throughout the years, the brand continued to innovate. The Herend Studio came into being in 1985, while the beautifully named Porcelanium opened its doors in 1999 in line with the millennium. In 2014, the brand cemented its place in the modern day by introducing a 3D movie at its guided tour of the popular Herend Minimanufactory.
A Plate in History
When President Pal Schmitt presented Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge with a Herend china dinner set as a wedding gift, he described it as a “real Hungaricum” – that is, an inimitable representation of Hungarian culture. And a quick glance at Herend’s timeline proves this to be true; the brand is unique in its impact on not only the art and manufacturing industries but on Hungarian history itself.
Herend Porcelain has featured in noble households – and been named for them – since the Habsburg dynasty. Even more impressive is that it has also created them. In 1867, Emperor Francis Joseph awarded Fischer nobility in recognition of his work.
And yet its influence is not reserved for the elite. In 1897, Herend became the pioneer in apprentice training in Transdanubia, a scheme backed and funded by the government because of its trust in the company and its owners.
Herend’s Famous Fans
Herend’s artistic designs, unparalleled quality and historical standing have together won it a number of prominent fans. Within the British royal family alone, its admirers span generations – from Queen Victoria to Prince George of Cambridge, who received a Herend Porcelain tea set as a gift upon his birth in 2013. Diana, Princess of Wales even chose to use a Rothschild set at her wedding.
European nobles past and present are also known to collect Herend designs, with Franz Joseph I of Austria and his wife, Empress Elizabeth joining Count Albert Apponyi and the Barton Rothschild family in their admiration for the brand’s exclusive patterns.
Today, it’s not just nobility that is known to love Herend – famed Austrian actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is said to collect its figurines.
Begin Your Collection
Beginning your Herend collection starts with finding the pattern that best suits your tastes. This elegant Herend dinner plate takes inspiration from the Far East with its unusual Chinoise design. Originally a pattern of the historic Viennese porcelain factory that closed down in 1864, it was awarded to Herend artists by the then-emperor in recognition of the brand’s prestige. Herend’s craftsmen chose not to simply replicate the design but to reinterpret it, with this stunning result.
Herend’s porcelain may be fragile, but it seems its reputation is firmly cemented in a rich history and striking designs.