British ceramics brand 1882 Ltd has launched a new collection of candles, with a bespoke scent, in ceramic holders designed by some of its most celebrated collaborators.

The candleholders – though that description doesn’t really fit their ambition – were created by designers Max Lamb, Bethan Gray, Snarkitecture, and conceptual artist Bruce McLean. Longstanding collaborators with 1882 Ltd, the four were chosen to celebrate the diverse range of techniques and aesthetics that the brand has been championing since it was set up in 2011 by daughter-and-father founders Emily and Christopher Johnson. 

1882 Ltd: the history

A green, blue and yellow ceramic vessel with a bird photographed at the Stoke on Trent 1882 Ltd factory
‘Ceramic Garden’ candleholder by Bruce McLean

After a career in advertising in LA, Emily returned to London to study design, where she spotted a gap in the market for design-led, British-made ceramics. Collaborations to date include the likes of Paul Smith, Martino Gamper and Philippe Malouin. Her family’s ties with Stoke-on-Trent’s artisanal heritage date back to the year 1882, when the Johnson Brothers started producing ceramics there. The brothers’ company grew rapidly and eventually became part of the Wedgwood Group in 1968. Christopher, a fourth-generation Johnson, had been running the family business, and was invited to join Wedgwood, where he stayed as head of production until his retirement in 2002.

1882 Ltd strives to promote creative talent, while drawing on its founders’ multi-generational knowledge to support the ceramics industry of Stoke-on-Trent. Working with a network of local suppliers, Emily and her father have grown the brand and are now moving some of their production to Wedgwood’s factory, built in the late 1930s, in the nearby village of Barlaston – a process she describes as ‘going back as close to the mothership as humanly possible’. The bright, state-of-the-art facility will allow 1882 Ltd to amplify some of its more experimental and research-based work, including designer collaborations.

A collection of four candleholders by leading designers

White ceramic vessel by Snarkitecture photographed on its mould in the 1882 factory in Stoke on Trent
‘Dissolve’ candle by 1882 Ltd in collaboration with Snarkitecture

The new candleholders are additions to the four collaborators’ existing collections for 1882 Ltd. Lamb’s offering joins his Crockery collection of bone china tableware, cast from moulds he carved in plaster and rendered with his signature beautiful imperfection. Snarkitecture adds to its series of vessels designed to reveal the artisanal process behind their creation, their otherwise sleek surfaces interrupted by unexpected texture. Gray’s design expands her Lustre collection, featuring 22ct gold decals that create captivating motifs. And McLean builds on his Garden Ware series of vessels decorated using a silk screen decal, his designed topped off with a bird figurine.

The candleholders represent a distillation of each designer’s collection into a single piece, enhancing their aesthetic richness. McLean, for example, considered his creation to be more than a candleholder. ‘He said to me, “Let’s make a ceramic garden with a bird”, and that’s what we did,’ recalls Emily.

What’s next for 1882 Ltd

Two ceramic horses for a Jo Malone diffuser being made in a factory in Stoke on Trent
Work in progress for an upcoming collection that 1882 Ltd is working on with Shona Heath for Jo Malone

‘People who haven’t always worked with ceramics come and design a collection unbiased,’ she says. ‘They’re not aware of the limitations of the materials, which means that they push the boundaries.’ Simultaneously, 1882 Ltd is developing a series of home accessories for British brand Jo Malone, created by set designer Shona Heath. ‘This is one of the most fantastical collections that we’ve worked on,’ says Emily. ‘Shona’s imagination is just incredible, the way that she is able to transfer her vision through to us is fantastic.’

The common thread of these creative collaborations is the brand’s craftspeople. ‘The people who make our products are a fundamental pillar of our company,’ says Emily, who is expanding its apprentice scheme. ‘We need to ensure that the industry continues, and we can do that by having a younger generation working. But in order to do that, you need to be making some pretty interesting stuff. If you make interesting things, you’ll attract interesting people.’ §