RADFORD AIR CUTLERY
Radford Air is a hollow handled pattern, designed to sit as a sculptural form on the table.
Radford is an evolution of Premier, a pattern originally designed in 1984 by Robert Radford Welch (1929-2000) as a modern equivalent to the shape and weight of Georgian cutlery. Premier was inspired by work in the silversmithing workshop in the early 1970s. Robert and his team had often been asked to hand make replacement knives; with silver handles and stainless steel blades, to relate as closely as possible to customers’ existing Georgian spoons and forks.
Radford Air shares this history, although takes its design cues from the traditional way knife handles have been made over the years, allowing it to surprise the diner with its contradictory solidity of form but lightness of feeling in the hand.
The knives in Georgian canteens were less likely to survive as long as the rest of the pieces, either they were made of bone or ivory handle, or of a hollow silver handle made in two pieces and then joined and filled with a cement, resin or sand to hold the blade in place. Radford Air takes this concept as far as it can; by not filling the hollow in the handle the illusion delights all the more.
The feeling of lightness which this technique affords is today often associated with inexpensive cutlery, when in fact, as a process, it is far more labour intensive and therefore more costly to produce.
He wrote about this process in his sketchbook:
“Hollow handled knives with forged bolsters are very difficult to model as prototypes. In the early design stages the first models are often made in wood, or carved out of solid aluminium bar.
However if we decide to make up the knife as a close replica of a finished manufactured piece, we have to follow parts of the factory process by utilising, wherever possible, existing hot stampings which are modified to suit the new design.”
Radford - restyled, renamed and re-launched in memory of Robert in 2003 - remains a classical English design, but owes its origins to the contours and balance of traditional eighteenth century cutlery, a heritage which imbues it with timeless appeal.
Radford Air plays with notions of tradition and pushes techniques of manufacture. The result is an elevated statement piece which will become a talking point at any table.