Porcelain: Home Decor Guide

Table Talks
January 21, 2021
Emily Wordsworth

Porcelain has a rich history in the palaces of emperors, castles of monarchs and in the modern home. Made up of a fine white clay, this type of ceramic is a sight in both traditional and contemporary form. Porcelain was first invented in China and is commonly known to have a 'paste-like-quality', which feels very tough and elastic in texture. It is deeply white in colour, almost translucent you could say. When working with such pure whiteness, it is important to make sure all surfaces are very clean. Here we explore the facets of porcelain and its ongoing legacy.

History of Porcelain

Porcelain dates back over 2,000 years and has been traced back to the Eastern Han Dynasty in China. During this time, Celadon, China's famous jade green glaze that was often found on porcelain, and was all the rage at the time. Its rise in popularity came with the art of tea drinking and grew from there.

Facts About Porcelain

You may think porcelain and fine china are one and the same, and while they have similar properties — both are porous and glass-like — their firing process sets them apart. Porcelain requires high heat, whilst fine china is softer in texture and fires at a lower temperature. It's good to note that porcelain is also more durable.

Sculpture by Roger Coll.

Porcelain in the Modern Home

In today's landscape, porcelain is used widely throughout the world. Ceramicists favour it for its delicate and versatile nature, as well as its ability to take on glaze in a unique way. Often used in tableware, jewellery, and decorative tiles, its sturdy nature means it is also commonly used in laboratory equipment and for electric insulation.

While marble countertops have reigned supreme for many years, porcelain offers far more benefits. It's a dense material that is glazed, making water-resistant, stain-resistant and isn't as likely to fade over time. A clean freak's dream, unlike marble, it won't soak up stains or become etched with acidic liquids.

Classic porcelain plates are garnished in blue and depict sweeping landscapes. Modern interpretations have explored new realms of colours, motifs and still pay homage to century-old techniques. If it were up to us, both styles have a place in every home.

The porcelain garden stool was a fixture for drinking tea outdoors and playing board games. Almost regal in nature, its intricate drawings often display life in motion and nature flourishing. In modern times, more minimal approaches are favoured, and it is often used as a side table or a decorative pedestal.

The porcelain vase is iconic for its elaborate shapes and patterns. Its traditional hourglass shape with wide top has been replaced by more organic, natural curves. More in keeping with modern homes, though the beauty of handcrafted artistry remains.

Porcelain door knobs and drawer pulls offer an old-world elegance to all it touches. Refined and often with minimal decoration, you can create an intriguing flow by using mismatched designs throughout the home. A perfect example of an old-world design choice that has been elevated for modern spaces.