Enamel is a material we associate with our grandmothers’ kitchens, with an age in which pots, jugs, cups and even cutlery were finished with the distinctive, smooth surface of enamel. The development of pure enamel work has a thousand year history with numerous stops and evolutions along the way. Originally a way of decorative refining technique that added value to various objects, enamel was later used in the sixteenth century in painting, allowing the realization of extremely detailed depictive work. Later still, enamel found use as a protective coating in industrial settings– something it’s still used for today.
We only need to go as far back as the twentieth century, however, to delve into the history of Falcon Enamelware. Founded in the early twentieth century, the traditional British firm quickly made a name for itself as a quality brand easily distinguished by its use of brilliant white enamel with an unmistakable blue edging, a combination that became its trademark.
Husband and wife team Kam and Emma Young, along with Hugh Morse, joined forces to give the brand new impetus. While the knowledge of the experts at Falcon remains unsurpassed in matters enamel, the addition of new blood gave the firm’s assortment a fresher, more contemporary orientation. Convinced by the passion of the three designers, Falcon’s management gave them a free hand to update the company’s products; the result is a collection that’s both innovative and rooted in tradition.
Rather than simply scrapping the classic products, the trio engaged in a carful process of modernization. Additional colours were placed alongside the signature combination of blue and white, resulting in enamel mugs, now available, with three supplementary colours. Sometimes all it takes is a simple stoke of a brush to give a classic product an entirely new, contemporary look and feel.
Enamel is, simply put, porcelain melted upon metal, a combination of material properties capable of withstanding the tests of modern life. Colorfast and resistant to bleaching and fading, the material might chip if dropped but it definitely won’t break. As well as being dishwasher-safe, enamel products can be used in ovens up to 270°C and are just as suitable for use on gas and electric stove tops.
Falcon doesn’t believe that being true to tradition means simply standing still, which is why the three designers are currently engaged in the development of an enamel cutlery set for the British firm. Collaborating with the firm, they’re creating a new colour palette for classic products while looking for new uses for enamel and its wonderful properties in the kitchen. We can expect plenty of surprises from Falcon in the future – after all, the company is still only a sprightly 92
Kai Peterman lives in Berlin and writes about product design at Stilsucht.