Matthew Tyas

Designing 21st Century Standard Ware: The Cultural Heritage of Leach and the Potential Applications of Digital Technology

The Leach Pottery, established in 1920, is a stronghold of the UK Studio Pottery movement and synonymous with Bernard Leach’s unique and progressive assimilation of Eastern and Western pottery aesthetics and methods. This assimilation was expressed through his practice and writings, and further propagated through Leach Standard Ware: the Pottery’s domestic tableware that was produced over the period of about 40 years until 1979. In 2008, the Leach Pottery reopened as a museum and educational resource, and resumed the production of domestic pots in a new studio.

The foundations of the research lie in the defining of Standard Ware and its associated pots and cultural heritage. This deconstruction of the essence of domestic Leach provided a beginning for, and comparison with digitally produced tableware created by the researcher. Digital technologies were used to re-connect with past practices of tool making and tool use in the production environment, and to offer new perspectives on examining and recording Leach tableware. The practice culminated in the design of new Standard Ware, facilitated by digital tools which also supported the involvement of other potters in its making and interpretation. This involvement of external practitioners hinted at the potential for a more collaborative model of tableware development.