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Swirl - 50 years old!

1955-2005: The original design is now 50 years old and a version of this design was still being manufactured until 2006 by Joseph Joseph Ltd.

An Enduring Design

Of all the designs produced by Chance Brothers for their Fiestaware, there's no doubt that 'Swirl' epitomised the avant-garde styles of the 1950s & 1960s.

One frustrating point about Swirl is the lack of a designers name. While it is often assumed to be Margaret Casson, there is no evidence to support this.

Designs from the post-war period had suffered from a shortage of raw materials: the use of gilt was limited, for example. So the optimism that followed after restrictions were lifted in the early 1950s must have proved immensely uplifting to a recovering nation. Gone were the rather stark, utilitarian designs to be replaced by stunning new shapes with bold, striking patterns. Certainly these influences seemed to have spread to many other manufacturers like Midwinter Pottery (see below).

Such was the impact of Swirl, it was selected for the Design Centre in London. A very prestigious award.

Although Swirl only had about a ten-year lifespan from 1955 to c.1965, it was reintroduced and modernised for the new millennium by Joseph Joseph Ltd. around 2000.

Joseph Joseph Ltd — Made in Britain
While the Chance factory closed in 1981, the designs were bought up by Michael Joseph (Fiesta Glass Ltd.) Joseph Joseph is operated by his twin sons, Antony & Richard, who created the new company around 2002.

'Joseph Joseph' now produce a wide range of modern glassware incorporating fresh designs that are perfectly suited to contemporary surroundings. New designs such as 'Bubble' and 'Optic' are perfect examples of this. Almost as a tribute to its glass heritage, the company also produce retro designs – none more so than the 'Retro Rectangle' and 'Square Numbers' clock faces that could be a homage to styles from the 1950s!

But of all the retro designs, one in particular has stood the test of time: the iconic 'Swirl'. From the original design, Joseph Joseph have adapted this with a more irregular pattern that emphasises the curves of the slumped shape. While the central 'spoke' that served as a focal point on the original design has disappeared, the new pattern is unmistakably 'Swirl'.


Standard Swirl

Swirl on ruby glass

Swirl with Gold pattern

Gold Swirl: pre-1967, Regent Oil Company

Regent Oil Company

Influential by Design

There's no doubt that other manufacturers were influenced by the Fiestaware designs and Midwinter Pottery – who Margaret Casson (see Night Sky) also designed for – were also producing startling new patterns and shapes during this period. Another designer, Jessie Tate, was responsible for another highly influential pattern: the fabulous 'Zambesi' with its black and white zebra print against the highly contrasting bright-red interior. In a similar vein, Beswick's 'Zebrette' captured the style and imagination of the era.


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