‘I grew up in
Birmingham; that was home for me’, explains Emma Young, who makes up one half
of the designer duo behind Falcon Enamelware cultish renaissance. ‘The Midlands
was the workshop of the world and factories and production always fascinated
me. I would invite myself around to Armitage Shanks just to understand how
things are made. I loved it. My father was really into industrial archaeology
and design and so my childhood was spent on canals and railways’ replete, as
she remembers, with enamel accents on beloved nameplates and signs.
When the pair,
Emma along with her New Zealand-born husband Kam, first encountered the Falcon
brand in 2010 they could hardly have anticipated such eager pursuit by the
great and good of European taste-makers and yet Soho House were their first
client and Merci in Paris amongst the first stockists of the kitchenware that
had, for many, ceded into sepia-coloured childhood memory.
It was the perfect mix of happen-chance and intuition that led to a meeting with Falcon’s then owner in a café on the side of the M1 motorway and a wheelie bag full of much-coveted gratin dishes. Having established the design agency Kiwi and Pom in 2008 the couple have spent a decade designing café and restaurant environments.
When, in 2010, the perfect enamel dish proved the elusive finishing touch to a project the couple tracked down the distributor, a husband and wife team who held the keys to this one time icon of British design. In need of some love and attention and a contemporary upgrade, Kiwi and Pom stepped in and lent their expertise without hesitation, taking over the brand and making some small design tweaks.
‘The brand was established in Britain in the 1920s when there was a lot of different enamelware’, Kam explains. ‘It was amazing when we brought it back just how passionate people were. It has longevity and it has heritage but it needed to be modernised for the next generation to fall in love, to give it a new lease of life’. ‘It’s not precious’ says Emma, ‘there’s a versatility that can be used everyday. We were very conscious when we were doing it that we didn’t want to put it on a pedestal as an over-designed thing. We wanted it to be accessible to everybody, that’s how it should be. That’s how it was in the ‘20s’.
birthplace of Falcon remains a mystery despite much digging, its current home
is in the heart of the London design-world in Clerkenwell. The showroom, tucked
among haphazardly perfect storefronts, is brimful with the results of almost a
decade’s love-filled labour. There are the original products, recast in
pillar-box red, pigeon grey and coal black along with newly released lines like
wonderfully elegant 1, 2 and 3 pint jug.
‘When we design
we start with colour and material. It is the starting point for everything we
do’ says Emma. ‘We take our time. A product can take a year, a year and a half.
We want to do what is right and to take our time with it’ continues Kam. ‘Now
we do two limited edition colours every year so that’s nice to play around
with. I think if you put everything we do in a row as a design agency, most
people would think, “ah yes: process, material, colour” ’ and so Falcon is the
The story of
this modern iteration of Falcon has appeared almost frame-by-frame online. The
brand’s re-launch coincided with the launch of Instagram in 2010 and ever since
the blue-piping-framed kitchenware has been era-defining for a generation of
dinner documentarians and recording photogenic landmark lunches.
Happily, with a growing range and new signature colours each year the brand continues to grow from strength to strength. ‘Especially now with this massive reaction against plastic there is another relevance’, Emma finishes. ’It has always been sustainable. It is completely inert; there are no Teflon scares. The material is basically just glass and clay and steel. And it’s beautiful; it appeals on so many levels.’
Words by Jeanette Farrell
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