Climate change is rightly at the top of the public agenda and against this backdrop, Robert Welch as a company is on a journey to remain sustainable and thoughtful of the environment in everything it does.
Using materials that are sustainable and inspire creativity
Over the years Robert Welch has worked with its suppliers to ensure the sustainability of its products from cutlery to pans. In fact Robert Welch products have been sustainable for many years as the majority are made from stainless steel (itself both a recycled material and fully recyclable). It gives flexibility to the designers to create innovative new products, is easy to work with and is neither harmful to people during its production nor in its use. Stainless steel is also durable, easy to clean and maintain. Not only is stainless steel easily recyclable, but the process can be carried on indefinitely. In fact around 80% of the material currently in use is estimated to be recycled (sustainablestainless.org). All of which adds up to Robert Welch creating fully sustainable products.
Sustainability is not just about the products themselves. It is also about other areas of the business and Robert Welch has been working on renewing the packaging. Replacing the board used in the boxes, so it’s fully recyclable, while all avenues are being explored to replace the internal plastic tray. The brochures produced, are fully recyclable and where possible use PEFC certified paper.
Considering the environment in our buildings
And there are the buildings, Robert Welch is still working from the original studio that Robert himself set up over 60 years ago, while the recently completed business hub, The Radford Building, employs a range of environmentally sustainable solutions including a ground-source heat pump. The entire plot and building have also been designed to catch rainwater, and this feeds a specially planted pond and nature area created to encourage and protect local wildlife. The scale of the climate challenge means everyone needs to act together. Robert Welch are proud of their legacy and the future focus is to continually improve and reduce their impact on the environment and encourage their customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to do the same.
Scandinavian works typically share "craftsmanship, quality, humanity and restraint combined with a sympathetic respect for the natural materials and a concern for their 'proper' use by the designer and their consumer."
Jan Opie, Curator, 1989 V&A Exhibition:
Scandinavia: Ceramics and Glass in the 20th Century.
In recent years Scandinavian inspired styling has seen a resurgence in popularity as effortless sophistication, muted tones, hints of greenery and soft lighting have risen to prominence.
A greater appreciation of sustainability and the sympathetic use of natural materials in design has led to many of us aspiring to create sophisticated but understated living, dining and entertaining spaces that also have a cosy, welcoming intimacy.
Nordic design was always an influence on Robert Welch, and our design team continues to be inspired by the same principals today. This can be seen in the Limbrey collection, RW2 cutlery and most recently, Bergen cutlery.
We have compiled our favourite products to inspire you to create the relaxed comfort of a stylish home; something the Scandi movement embodies effortlessly.
In the early 1960s Robert Welch designed his first piece in cast iron, a candleholder he named Hobart. Cast iron was an important addition to Robert Welch's portfolio, complementing his designs in silver and steel. At first Hobart was produced in small numbers, the initial order was only two dozen, but after displaying them in his studio and home the designs popularity grew and led to a second order of one-hundred. Robert sold the designs himself out of a suitcase for a year, and initial buyers included Liberty and Heals.
In the early 1960s Robert Welch designed his first piece in cast iron, a candleholder he named Hobart. Cast iron was an important addition to Robert Welch's portfolio, complementing his designs in silver and steel. At first Hobart was produced in small numbers,
the initial order was only two dozen, but after displaying them in his studio and home the designs popularity grew and led to a second order of one-hundred. Robert sold the designs himself out of a suitcase for a year, and initial buyers included Liberty and Heals.
Alveston cutlery, first designed in the sixties, became known as RW2 in the early 2000s. There have been very slight changes in the design, but the essence of Robert Welch's iconic cutlery pattern is still there.
With its sculptural simplicity, RW2 evokes a mid-century modern aesthetic and the design can be found in many museums across the world.
As a promising student of silversmithing, Robert Welch became inspired by the work of contemporary Scandinavian designers. This led onto his move to working with stainless steel.
"Scandinavia loomed large as an influence in the mid-1950s; the philosophy of the Scandinavians, so popular at that time, designing simple, everyday objects that were functional and beautiful and which most people could afford, greatly appealed to me. I was, and remain, committed to this ideal and since the 50s I have endeavoured to pursue this aim along with the craft of silverwork"
Welch, R. (1986) Hand & Machine, p.16
Robert made four trips to Scandinavia between 1953 and 1955, his first visit to Norway was in the summer of 1954. He was one of a group of students from the Royal College of Art and Kingston College of Art invited to work in Norwegian factories, with the visit culminating in an exhibition held in Bergen which was designed as a room setting. As the only silversmith in the group Robert worked with the factory of Theodor Olsen, a company founded in 1868 specialising in silver and enamelware.
The Scandinavian ethos can be seen throughout his career across a variety of metals and materials, but it all began with silver and stainless steel.
Design Hunter, founded by interiors writer and stylist Helen Powell in 2009, has become one of the UK's leading interiors, design and lifestyle blogs.
Through her styling, photography collaborations and content projects, Design Hunter reflects honesty and simplicity in the design and use of materials, and a belief that the objects we choose to live with should help create a home that is inviting, restful and a place of sanctuary.
How did you first become interested in design?
I think I've always had an interest in design. For me it's a fascination with how it shapes the environment around us and how we can use it to create a home that reflects what's most important to us, whether that's a space for sociable gatherings with family and friends or a clam sanctuary to retreat to at the end of a busy day.
Where do you find most of your pieces?
We have a few vintage pieces like the Alveston tea pot which I bought from a twentieth century design dealer as a Christmas present for my husband when we first met. We've come across a few lucky finds over the years including a 1960s vanity mirror which I picked up for just a few pounds in a junk shop. We've also been given a few pieces as gifts,
Robert Welch Collector - cont'd
including the Brunel log basket - a present from my sister after we had a wood burner installed last year.
You are renovating at the moment, have you found a favourite place in your home yet?
We recently completed a kitchen extension project and it's definitely become our new favourite place within the house as we were able to design it from scratch to our own specification. Our overarching goal was to create a light, open space that could be used for cooking and eating but would also be a room we could enjoy relaxing and spending time in. The quality of light in the space is really lovely and the wide window ledge above the sink provides the perfect place to display some of our favourite design objects.
Why were you drawn to Robert Welch's Hobart candlesticks?
They are a classic design - solid, weighty and beautifully crafted.
Do you use your vintage Robert Welch items in day to day life, or are they just for show?
I don't believe in keeping things for best. We use many of our Robert Welch pieces on an almost daily basis. Lazy weekend breakfasts are an important ritual in our house and tea is always served from our Alveston teapot.
Are there other designs of Robert's you hope to add to your collection?
I love cooking and as we've just completed the kitchen I think a new set of saucepans might be next on the list.