A few weeks ago the New York Times featured the latest designs produced by Royal Tichelaar Makkum, the 400-year-old Dutch ceramics manufacturer. The new line called Fundamentals of Makkum is comprised of a basic pottery service designed by Lonny van Ryswyck and Nadine Sterk of Atelier NL that derives color variations from its use of clays from across the Netherlands’ countryside. Also new this year is Dick van Hoff’s block-like functionalist take on the traditional Dutch tile stove.
Today Makkum is directed by Jan Tichelaar the thirteenth generation to lead the family-owned business. Makkum’s commitment to both contemporary and historical design is exceptional. Recent experiments have included several collaborations with noted ceramics artist Hella Jongerius who, in one instance, remixed the company’s designs for majolica ware by cleverly applying the tin glaze—traditionally used on the front—askew to reveal transparent and white surfaces on both the front and back of a piece.
Jongerius, along with Jurgen Bey, Studio Job, and Alexander van Slobbe, also produced designs for the Pyramids of Makkum line launched last year, which are currently included in the exhibition Telling Tales: Fantasy and Fear in Contemporary Design on view through October 18 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. These designer pyramids are spectacular reinterpretations of the 17th-century vase form that include teakettles, pails, and other representational forms stacked to mimic the vase’s pagoda-like shape. The project was inspired by the company’s restoration of a flower pyramid for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Other restoration and reproduction projects by Makkum have included creating replica delftware jars for the Delft Pottery at Hampton Court Palace, and a commission for tiles for the conserves’ cellar at Het Loo, the Dutch royal palace in Apeldoorn.
Those unable to visit Makkum’s flagship store adjacent to its factory in the town of Makkum, can find an extraordinary array of wares from traditional handpainted blue and white dishes to high design biscuit porcelain to whimsical ceramic plaques available online through its website which allows for international purchases. In the slideshow above we’ve selected just a few favorites, but urge readers to take a look for themselves.