Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 05

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Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 60 1947

9. Marketing


Of the industry’s production for the home market the greater part — one estimate puts it as high as 90 per cent. — goes direct from the manufacturer to the retailer. Glass wholesalers drew largely on foreign sources for their supplies, but during the war these were cut off and the wholesaler had to depend wholly on home factories. As a result there has been some increase in the amount distributed through the wholesaler.

No precise figures are available as to the territorial distribution of sales, but before the war the industrial regions in the Midlands and North were the best and the agricultural districts the worst markets.

The largest buyers make their purchases by visiting either the company’s works or its permanent show rooms in London. The general practice of the industry, however, was to stage displays in stock-rooms attached to hotels. Pre-war, the larger centres were visited two or three times annually. When a visit was due, invitations were issued to customers in the surrounding district to come and examine the range of goods shown and place orders.

These displays were individual. The non-industrial regions, where displays were not staged, and those not within reasonable reach of display centres, were normally visited annually by salesmen who carried with them a limited assort­ment of goods. The idea of a co-operative display at which all manufacturers could show their goods in the same place and at the same time, thus saving the buyers’ time and expense, is not favoured. It was said that buyers would be irritated and embarrassed; they were loath to do business when other buyers or salesmen whom they do not desire to meet are present. Co-operative displays with such sister-industries as pottery were, however, favoured and at times took place ; it is recommended that this development should be carried further.

Although the marketing methods employed have been satisfactory to the trade in the past, changed and changing conditions will, in the future, demand that greater efforts be made to develop markets in regions which are capable of development and to increase and widen contact with buyers. It is worthy of mention that whilst the industry believes that it already maintains close contact with distributors, the latter have suggested to us that there should be more frequent meetings at works where points of common interest such as trends in design might be discussed with advantage.


It was pointed out to us that the customs and conditions of the import trade required importers to carry large stocks. This enabled them to give immediate delivery of articles of which they had made large purchases. It would clearly be of advantage to the home producer if wholesalers and large retailers carried larger stocks of home-produced goods than in the past, so that prompt delivery could be similarly effected, and it is suggested, therefore, that greater use could with advantage be made of the wholesaler in the home trade in an effort to win him away from imported goods. This in its turn would be of benefit to the manufacturer, guaranteeing him longer and uninterrupted runs.

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The prohibition of the manufacture of all decorated and fancy glassware and of all tableware except tumblers, mugs, jugs, carafes and condiment sets, and the concentration of production largely on types of glass needed for war purposes, have left the home market very short of lead crystal ware. A precise estimate of the amount of this accumulated shortage cannot be attempted, but it is clear that it must be several years’ production at the pre-war rate and that, provided purchase tax on cut-glass were abolished or at least drastically reduced, double the pre-war supplies could be absorbed annually for many years to come.

Apart from the restocking of homes, shops and warehouses, there has also to be considered the possibility of increasing sales amongst sections of the community and in parts of this country where there has previously been little demand for the products of the industry. As has already been pointed out the greatest pre-war demand for high grade decorated glass came from industrial areas. The standard of living of the agricultural worker has, however, undergone an improvement now rendered secure by the Government’s declaration of its determination to maintain agriculture in a healthy condition. Hence, a new market can be developed in agricultural regions for which the industry should cater. Shopping centres which attract the agricultural population should be more fully covered than in the past. The creation of new satellite towns and the present vast building programme will set up a corresponding demand for all household goods. Various influences, including that of the Arts Council and the Council of Industrial Design, are at work to create amongst the general public a taste for goods of high quality.

Finally, the probings of the Working Party into all the activities of this industry have given rise to a new spirit among manufacturers, encouraging them to come closer together, to tackle problems co-operatively, to bring themselves to a higher pitch of efficiency in every department of their activities, and to aim at making the country more conscious of the beauty of glass of high quality, design, manufacture and decoration. The conclusion reached is that the short term 100 per cent. increase in volume of sales already mentioned so far as this country is concerned may reasonably be regarded as permanent. It is certainly a target at which the industry should aim.

Prices are, to-day, 65 per cent. above pre-war levels. Hence production at a volume rate of 100 per cent. greater than pre-war would mean a production in current values 230 per cent. above the level in 1938.

Between the field of activity of the manufacturers of hand-blown glassware of superior quality and the field at present covered by manufacturers of hand-pressed and automatic machine-pressed or machine-blown glassware, it is believed that there is a large market to be exploited, previously supplied to a large extent by importers. Such glassware could be made of good design and quality and could be of a price well within the reach of a large number of people who whilst desiring good glass have not been able to afford the highest quality. We recommend that this section of the public should be catered for by the manufacturers of hand-blown glassware extending their present range of products so as to include hand-pressed or automatic machine-made ware, but of the highest grade only. It is clearly essential, however, that the various sections of the glass industry concerned should have frank discussion of plans for the future so that overlapping and needless expenditure may be avoided.

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In general, salesmen are recruited from the production side of the industry, but there is no clearly defined system of training. In an industry where crafts­manship and design are of such importance, salesmen should not only be well educated and have a natural flair for selling, but should also be given a sound knowledge of how the goods are produced, and should have a thorough training in the principles of design. In some firms directors take an active part in selling, even to the extent of “going on the road,” with, it is said, notably good results.

It is worthy of mention that few, if any, of the sales managers employed in the industry are members of any professional body (for example, the Incorporated Sales Managers’ Association) whose purpose it is to study the modern science of marketing. An industry to-day is not in step with the times unless it contains men who make a professional study of marketing through belonging to an appropriate association, following its investigations and making use of its methods.

We recommend that the industry should devote more attention than in the past to securing salesmen recruits of the right type, establishing general principles for training, compiling an appropriate syllabus which should certainly include a course on design, and providing opportunities for training. It would also be valuable to arrange regular refresher courses to ensure that, as fashions change, the men engaged in the essential work of creating new markets and extending existing ones should be kept up to date and not live too much in the past.


The systematic investigation of all the relevant facts about a market and its requirements, known as market research, is not practised by the industry. Any one firm is too small to be able to afford the elaborate organisation required. We are, however, convinced that the industry has much to gain by such research which will enable it to discover the best channels of distribution, to determine the views of distributors, to discover quickly the strength of competition from imports or from new products including plastics, to carry out consumer research and to keep itself abreast of new trends or changes in taste. We recommend that the industry should undertake this work, and we consider that the right body to do it would be the fully representative trade association which we hope to see established for the industry. This association would be able to invoke the aid of the Design Centre, which we hope will be set up for the glass industry, for investigations and advice on design research, consumer research, publicity and display.


The recognition of a piece of full lead crystal glassware calls for more knowledge and experience than the general public normally possesses. The would-be purchaser finds difficulty in distinguishing between different qualities of glass and different types of decoration, and tends to base his choice on price and on liking for a particular design. The superior quality of the full crystal glass for which the British glass manufacturer has so long been noted often passes unappreciated.

The industry has shown itself to be alive to this situation and has striven in the past to remedy it by attaching to each piece a gummed label bearing the description “English Cut Crystal” though, in addition, some manufacturers etch

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their house or trade-mark on the piece to indicate its origin. Some dissatisfaction has been expressed with mere labelling. It has been pointed out that gummed labels may become detached or may even be removed and attached to inferior ware. We have considered as an alternative the employment of a registered hall-mark which would be marked indelibly on the ware, preferably by etching. It was suggested that such a hall-mark might serve not only as a guarantee of the quality of the glass itself, but also as a warranty of design, but we decided that the latter function was impracticable. We have, therefore, confined our­selves to the recommendation that a registered hall-mark should be adopted which shall certify that each piece so marked is made of British glass of an agreed standard of quality. This hall-mark should, we consider, be permanent in form, such as would result from etching. Its use need not, and we think should not, preclude continuance of the practice followed by manufacturers of etching their house or trade-mark on the piece. Indeed, the recording of the name of the designer also deserves consideration. Marking of a transparent material such as glass has, however, to be kept to the minimum.


The marking of glassware with a hall-mark, guaranteeing the quality of the glass of which it is made, will achieve little if the public be not familiarised with the use of the mark and educated to appreciate its significance. Hall­marks used for gold and silver have become, by virtue of long usage, familiar and well understood. Similar recognition for the crystal glass hall-mark will, we consider, best be achieved through the adoption by the industry of a policy of co-operative advertising, which could include descriptions of the main characteristics of the various qualities of glassware written in such a way as to be readily understood.

Advertising has hitherto been carried out by the industry on a strictly individualistic basis and has for the most part been confined to trade papers, but there is now a general recognition of the benefits to be derived from co-operative advertising on a wider scale, undertaken, perhaps, under some such heading as “British Cut Glass.” As we have pointed out, the use of a hall­mark would make co-operative advertising advantageous, but quite apart from this consideration we are of the opinion that a policy of co-operative advertising undertaken by the industry would be of great benefit, and we recommend that it should be adopted.

At the same time we would appeal for the better presentation of glassware to the buying public. If photography is to be the medium used, it should be of the highest quality possible, otherwise the beauty and attraction of the crystal glass will not be apparent. Also, shop-window and salesroom displays should be more carefully planned; all too frequently ware of high quality is badly displayed or is shown mixed with inferior goods.


There are no arrangements for establishing price agreements between the factories. The price at which an article is ultimately sold to the consumer is determined by the retailer. Retailers who have given evidence stated that a margin of 50 to 66 2/3 per cent. on first cost is required to cover, besides other charges, the risk of stocking and handling such expensive and fragile goods for which there is sometimes not a quick turnover. The Trade Union representatives have repeatedly drawn attention to excessively high retail

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prices, sometimes amounting to 300 per cent. above prices at the factory. Such observations, however rare, create discontent amongst the workers because they evoke a comparison between their wages and the apparently high profits taken by the distributors. The workers recognise that excessive prices restrict demand and affect the volume of production and employment in the industry. We con­sider that the question of the cost and efficiency of distribution generally in the country should be investigated by the industry, and if the allegations of excessively high profits being made by some distributors are confirmed, methods for dealing with the situation should be devised.

One way of preventing excessive profits would be to publish catalogues in which the goods would be illustrated and their retail prices given; this would clearly call for consultation between all the interests concerned. This method has long been operating successfully in Sweden, where the glass manufacturer fixes retail prices for his goods and allows the retailer a discount of 45 per cent. Some American firms do the same. Fixed retail prices have already been adopted by other sections of the glass industry in this country, for example, for ovenware. Retail price catalogues would, we are convinced, also form an excellent advertising medium.


The industry is greatly concerned about the continuation of Purchase Tax on cut-glass, which for some articles is as high as 125 per cent. Bearing in mind that before taxation is applied the price of hand-made decorated glassware is approximately 65 per cent. above pre-war levels, it will be seen that the final price to the consumer to-day is almost four times the pre-war price. It will, therefore, be appreciated that as long as the present high level of tax is maintained, the progress of the industry must be gravely handicapped, and its prosperity may be permanently impaired if the application of the tax is prolonged. It should be borne in mind that as machine and hand-pressed tableware bear no Purchase Tax there will be a natural tendency to purchase the very much cheaper articles, thus strengthening the machine and hand-pressed sections of the industry whilst weakening the hand-blown part. It is, therefore, recommended that the removal of Purchase Tax on high-quality decorated hand-blown ware be seriously considered, since it stimulates one section of the industry in an artificial manner at the expense of the other.


The industry has already responded well to the Government’s call for more exports. An increase of 135 per cent. by value has been achieved, but there is reason to believe that this figure can be improved. The pre-war export trade was small and was limited to a few countries, mainly the Dominions, and the returns suggest that the trade with some of them could have been greater. At the present time the possibilities of the American market are enormous, whilst its importance from a currency earning point of view does not need to be emphasised. Manufacturers have had a long experience of export trade, and now that they are being drawn closer together and are more aware of the country’s increased dependence on exports, they have become more export-minded and believe that countries overseas can take a much larger quantity of British glass. It is unnecessary to point out that much will depend on the coming conference to consider the freeing of international trade and on the constant co-operation

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between manufacturers and the Board of Trade to ensure that any whittling away or removal of preference within the British Empire shall be offset by greater freedom to enter other markets. In the determination of an export target for the industry it is vital that the home market shall not be lost to the importer by allowing the importation of foreign goods whilst the home producer is not permitted to supply.

The industry has held its high position in the world chiefly by reasons of its reputation for plain and decorated crystal glassware of the highest quality. This position has been reached by the individual efforts of the firms concerned. The time has, however, arrived for greater co-operation than in the past, a co-operation which should in no way destroy individual characteristics or reduce individual enterprise.

It is becoming more fully realised by this section of the glass industry that, by co-operation, its activities at home and abroad can be much strengthened to the advantage of each individual firm. The manufacturers have studied with interest the growth of the British Export Trade Research Organisation, and realise the advantages of membership of this new body of whose services they will avail themselves when circumstances permit. Continued contact with the Export Promotion Department of the Board of Trade and B.E.T.R.O. should do much to develop exports.

  1. That in the home market the industry should endeavour to develop more intimate contact with distributors, that it should arrange sales displays in co-operation with kindred industries, and seek a wider distribution of trade.
  2. That wholesalers and the large retailers should be persuaded to carry larger stocks, as in this way manufacturers will be enabled to arrange long production runs, with consequent economies.
  3. That, to prevent overlapping, and needless expenditure frank and full discussion should take place between this and other relevant sections of the glass industry of plans for the production of domestic and fancy glassware by mechanical means.
  4. That the industry should interest itself in market and consumer research.
  5. That co-operative advertising designed to educate the public to appreciate glass quality should be considered.
  6. That to prevent excessive profits being taken by some distributors, a catalogue giving retail prices should be issued by each firm.
  7. That a registered hall-mark should be adopted to be applied indelibly to each piece of glassware which is made of British glass of an agreed standard of quality.
  8. That the present crippling Purchase Tax on decorated glass should be abolished, or at least substantially reduced.
  9. That greater attention should be given to the selection and training of salesmen and sales managers, and that they should have refresher courses from time to time.
  10. That the industry should continue to develop and extend its export trade, particularly to the “hard currency” areas, though it must be recognised that this will jeopardise its position in the home market unless adequate safeguards are provided.
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10. Design


During the last 50 years or so English crystal glass has gained in popularity amongst the general public at home and in the Dominion and American markets. This is attributable to advances in manufacturing technique and skill, resulting in the production of articles of good quality and acceptable appearance at prices within the reach of a large section of the public.

In the Victorian era the principal demand was for stemware in the form of wine services, and the range of other useful articles was relatively small. The present century has so far seen a remarkable reduction in the demand for wine services as such, due to changed domestic conditions. There has, however, been a great expansion in other directions. Etching, at one time a form of decoration much employed for wine glasses, is now extinct, and the production of engraved ware has declined to a very low level. Decoration by polished cutting and intaglio has, on the other hand, gained in popularity.

The prevailing practice was for each firm to employ its own full-time designer or designers who were sometimes also experienced decorator-craftsmen. In the smaller firms, however, designing would often be combined with other duties, which at least assured that design took due note of the skill and tools actually available as well as of the limitations of the medium.

Where design has been most successful commercially, it has generally been the joint concern of executives and craftsmen, both glasshouse workers and decorators, the chief relevant factors to be considered being public taste, the worker’s skill, the peculiarities of the material, limitations of plant and cost. Each firm, though using the same methods and similar designs, has developed its own individual characteristics so that persons conversant with English crystal glass can frequently name the manufacturer by the appearance of the article. This is as it should be. Thus the trade in cut crystal glass was built up through what experience showed to be acceptable to the public as judged by the retail distributor. But what was acceptable yesterday may not be so to-morrow, a truism of which alert manufacturers will be ever mindful. The prime con­sideration has been, is, and must always be, whether the articles produced can be sold in sufficient volume at the prices asked to make their production profitable.

Between the two world wars, British glass manufacturers were greatly harassed by competition from Czechoslovakia and Germany, which they strove to meet by a multiplicity of new designs, some of which were “contemporary.” These latter do not appear to have had much success, perhaps because the enterprising manufacturer was insulated from his potentially responsive public by the too conservative retailer whom he had failed to educate and interest.

It is now generally accepted in the industry that its output being of such high technical quality, design should be no less excellent. It is realised, too, that articles must be designed from their first basic shapes right through to the finish. This calls for an industrial designer who must, of course, know the technicalities of the trade and the functions of the article and be fully sensitive to form, colour and texture. There must be the closest possible collaboration with the glass makers, sales managers and others. It is suggested that the

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designer should by no means be the only person in the firm interested in design. It should be his concern to spread such interest generally, and he should be given sufficient standing to enable him to do so.

Reference to 18th century and earlier designs as an inspiration for the future should be of great value as long as there is no mere copying of forms which were designed for very different conditions.

Past unsuccessful attempts to use designs by painters, architects, free lance and other outside designers employed by manufacturers should not be any argument against the employment of such industrial designers as are now available. There is to-day a generally critical and appreciative section of the public that has been lately and largely increased by exhibitions, publicity, good books in cheap editions, and by music presented during the war years in a contemporary way, and a more sophisticated taste should now be anticipated in the public’s buying generally. It is not claimed that the educated, critical section of the purchasing public is as yet any more than a minority, but it is a rapidly growing minority and already large enough to be important as a factor in consumer demand. It is this progressive section of their public, too, that can and does support enterprising retailers and manufacturers in their trying out of new patterns and fashions and in their pioneering generally.

There exists at present, for example, a strong and unsatisfied demand for glass decorated by enamelling in metal and colours. At present it may be small and sophisticated, but it will certainly grow, and the possibilities of developing the technique and expanding the production seem well worth pursuing. Con­tinental manufacturers have for long set a high standard in such ware which, given really sensitive designing, we might soon equal and ultimately surpass.


We are generally in agreement with the suggestions as to the training of designers for the industry in the Note appended to the evidence submitted by the Council of Industrial Design (see Appendix D). There are some points, however, on which we hold a different opinion. We cannot in particular accept the suggestion in paragraph 2 of the Note that “the decoration of glass by cutting, intaglio or engraving does not require very extensive knowledge or experience on the part of the designer.” We believe emphatically that in designing for glass, close familiarity with the details of the craft and the material is necessary for successful results. Also, since this is one of the few craft industries left, the craftsman-designer should receive special attention; youths showing promise in this direction should be encouraged to attend art schools having facilities for training such as are offered by the Stourbridge School of Art.

In the past, the industry has tended to choose its designers from two rather restricted but quite different fields. For the most part, the designers have been drawn from the works themselves or from the local art school, and although they have thus acquired the necessary appreciation of glass and the consequent limitations of applicable design, their training and outlook has frequently been too narrow to enable them to escape the conventions and traditions with which they have been surrounded. Their work has too often tended to be restricted to the mere finding of some pattern for cutting somewhat different from those in current use, but likely to appeal to the retailer in search of something which his nearest competitor cannot match. That the pattern, or something very

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near it, may actually already exist, forgotten amongst the thousands registered in the pattern book of the firm, has not seemed to signify.

This unimaginative employment of designs and designers of the type just mentioned proved, however, an ineffective answer to the pressure of foreign competition and, realising their shortcomings, manufacturers then experimented by employing eminent artists, mostly painters and architects, in the hope that they would produce something in harmony with modern times. Having little acquaintance with the technicalities of industrial design and slight appreciation of the difficulties which attend the translation of design from the drawing-board to the finished article, it is not surprising that the artists’ results were for the most part aesthetically and technically unsatisfactory and financially a failure.

Between these extremes there have always been a limited number of talented designers employed in the industry with a sound knowledge of the principles of design and practical experience in the glasshouse, well attuned to the times in which they live and producing articles of real merit. The aim should be, we think, to assure the industry of a small but steady flow of such designers. It is on them that it will have to depend in the main if it is to hold its own against foreign competition.

The country is well provided with schools and colleges of art where basic training in design can be obtained, and the industry is fortunate in having at Stourbridge an excellent art school with a principal whose work in glass design is of outstanding distinction. This school has facilities for practical work in glass making and in decorating by cutting and engraving under really skilled instructors. Its work has been concentrated to a great extent on decoration by engraving. Whilst it is most important that the craft of engraving should be revived, we would point out that cutting has long been and will, we believe, remain by far the most important form of decoration for English glass; it is important, therefore, that the Stourbridge school should not neglect it. We strongly urge that in this and other schools training designers who propose to find employment in the glass industry, the possibilities of decoration by cutting should receive due attention.

Our hopes for progress in English glass design have been raised by the proposal, which we have investigated, to establish a department of advanced training and research in glass design for the whole glass industry in connection with the Edinburgh College of Art. Through a bequest from Mr. Andrew Grant, the College has at its disposal a considerable annual sum which, according to the terms of the bequest, is to be used for scholarships only. With this money the Board of Management of the College has decided to establish scholarships for advanced training and research in glass design, open to students who have completed their art school training or who have had experience in the industry as designers. The final form of the scheme has not yet been settled, but as the proposals now stand, an Advisory Board would be set up consisting of representatives of the Board of Management of the College, the Industrial Design Committee of the Glass Manufacturers’ Federation, the Stourbridge Glass Manufacturers’ Association, and certain other bodies interested from the design and industrial angles. The Board would advise the Board of Manage­ment of the College on buildings and equipment, the recruitment of students, and other matters. Students would be selected on a nation-wide basis, and care would be taken not to choose any who would not be able to take full advantage of the training which the scheme will provide.

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We consider this project deserving of the utmost support from the Government and from the glass industry, particularly the hand-blown section. The generous action of the Board of Management in allocating the income from the Grant Bequest to establish scholarships for students of glass design, and in making itself responsible for the staffing of the department, leaves only the buildings to be provided. Accommodation of a kind could be arranged at the College, but only by cancelling some of the classes held there, a course which the Board is most reluctant to adopt. The best solution would seem to be that which the Board already has in mind, and that is to establish the department in an entirely new building specially designed and fitted for its work. The College is willing to provide a site in its grounds already cleared. We strongly urge the Govern­ment and the industry jointly to see that the comparatively small sum of money needed for the building, probably something of the order of £7,000 to £8,000, is forthcoming. We would also urge the Scottish Office, the Ministry of Educa­tion, the Ministry of Works, the Board of Trade and any other department which may be concerned, to arrange to have the necessary building licence made available without delay. We firmly believe that new opportunities for expansion lie ahead of the British glass industry, and that its ability to maintain a satisfactory standard of design will greatly influence that development. The industry must, therefore, have designers of the highest ability and the Edinburgh Scheme will help to provide them. It should be initiated now.

Being convinced that a great expansion of the British glass industry is an immediate possibility, we are concerned that the quality of design be fully recognised as the determining factor it must be in the maintenance of any long-term prosperity. We already have the technicians and the craftsmen to assure us of a flawless crystal glass perfectly fabricated, but their skill cannot avail without the guidance of designers such as the Edinburgh Scheme could provide, lacking whom, indeed, the renaissance for which we look may never come.


The industry will doubtless continue, as now, to depend mostly on designers employed whole or part time in the various firms. The possibilities offered by the free-lance designer should not, however, be neglected. One method by which interest in glass design could be stimulated amongst designers generally would be to arrange competitions for prizes presented by the manufacturers. We suggest that this idea be considered seriously, the terms of the competition being such that manufacturers would have the option of purchasing the designs. The designs should be exhibited and Press and other publicity promoted.


We have examined the relevant sections of the reports of the Working Party’s Swedish and American delegations, and whilst we are of the opinion that we should not attempt to follow trends of design of either country, we believe that there are points of interest in the methods employed by both, and include, therefore, the following notes based on the reports.

1. Sweden. While the world-wide reputation which Swedish glass has acquired for good design is admitted, the report of our Swedish mission points out that this has been achieved through the work of a few outstanding designers

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only (eight were mentioned by the Swedish Arts and Crafts Society), and applies to quite a small proportion of the total output, 90 per cent. of which is said to be of “bread and butter” lines of simple, more-or-less functional design. The outstanding factory for design employs three of the eight designers named, but not full time, since it is considered important for them to have other interests, and they are also painters and sculptors. Before the war, despite the artistic merit of its products, this factory does not seem to have been able to make a financial success of them.

Modern Swedish glass design depends for the most part on simplicity of shape and an elegant restraint of decoration. Engraving has largely replaced cutting. There are, however, signs of a movement towards more decoration, but the change to austerity in design from 1920 onwards led to the dismissal of most of the decorators, particularly the cutters, and the poor record which their trade has had for employment is making it very difficult to build up decorating staffs again to meet a certain renewed demand for cut ware. This experience should, we think, be noted by those who urge the home industry to concentrate on austere modern designs involving little or no decoration.

The prevailing fashion in present Swedish designs seems to be for very heavy ware, often fluted, which may have a small amount of engraving. The fluting is an advantage technically, since it lends itself to mechanical polishing ; the glass, being generally a non-lead glass, cannot be acid polished. Very little cutting to traditional designs is to be seen, though there is some intaglio. The cost of hand-polishing mitre cutting would be prohibitive. Engraved designs of fishes and human figures seem very popular. Delicately coloured ware and ware with coloured threads is also being made.

Excellent work is being done to advance good design in Swedish industrial products, and in glass particularly, by the Society of Arts and Crafts. The Society has 12,500 ordinary members besides industrial and other organisations which pay larger subscriptions. The Society arranges exhibitions, especially travelling ones, in Sweden and abroad, organises competitions in design, holds courses in design for people attached to industry, and publishes a monthly review for members as well as pamphlets for internal or wider circulation. The Society also sells books of designs to firms who can use them; the designer, having been paid by the Society, has no monetary interest in the transaction apart from being entitled to a small royalty.

2. United States of America. In the United States, as in Sweden, one factory stands out in design, but whilst the Swedish factory has a number of close rivals, the American factory is far ahead of all the others. This American factory maintains its position by providing a lead crystal glass of superb quality worked by craftsmen in the best European tradition, and by careful choice and training of its designers. Students with suitable backgrounds and good education and knowledge of the arts having been chosen, they are first set to work under an architect, then to study glass design and finally to work in close touch with the glassmakers at the furnace. A group of designers has thus been built up and developed who work closely together, with results that have proved remarkable. But apart from this one factory, American glass design has no special distinction, although in the better class table-ware factories it is generally of a fairly high order. One such factory had a qualified industrial designer with two assistants, all with a sound knowledge of glass making. A design committee consisting of

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the vice-president in charge of sales, a foreman glassmaker and the designer, considered and approved all designs before they were put into production. Quite a few designs were obtained from outside designers who received guidance from the firm’s own designer, since they lacked sufficient knowledge of the technicalities of design for glass. Great attention is given to design, and the design department is regarded as one of the most important in the factory.

In the decoration of glass, American hand factories do not in general reach our own standards. There is very little cutting, and what there is appears to be not of first quality; there is even less engraving.

There appears to be a considerable market throughout the United States for British lead crystal ware of good design, as generally speaking nothing approaching the quality of our glass is made in the New World. What this market seems to demand, our mission was told, is British traditional designs simplified; attempts to follow Swedish styles would find no favour. We consider that our manu­facturers should give close attention to the production of glassware in designs which will appeal to this great, and to us most important, market, a market which our mission was assured by importers and buyers alike is very anxious to take greatly increased supplies.


We have noted with great interest the formation by the Glass Manufacturers’ Federation of an Industrial Design Committee, comprising representatives of all sections of the glass industry, including flat glass. The Committee has not yet had time properly to get into its stride, but we look to it in co-operation with the Council of Industrial Design to do good work in improving the standard of design in the industry generally and particularly in the domestic and fancy glassware sections. The Committee is already taking an active part in furthering the scheme for setting up a department for advanced training and research in design in Edinburgh, to which we have already referred.

We think that the influence of the Committee would be strengthened if the workers in the industry could in some ways be associated with it, whether by direct representation of the Trade Unions on the Committee or, if this is not possible, by the formation of a joint committee on design on which both sides could be represented. This committee might also include as co-opted members designers and others concerned with the improvement of design in the industry.


The Council of Industrial Design have submitted a memorandum on design to the Working Party (see Appendix D) to which we have given the closest consideration. Their chief suggestion is that a Design Centre should be set up for the industry, and a description of the constitution and a list of the functions which it could perform is given in the Appendix (Pages 134-136).

We are in general agreement with the submissions made in the memorandum; on the question of the Design Centre we think the Council has made out a convincing case, and we agree that design will undoubtedly play a very important part in deciding the future prosperity of the industry. The establishment of a Design Centre would, we believe, promote such prosperity.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 72 1947

The Board of Trade are empowered to help an industry to maintain a Design Centre by making an annual grant to cover part of the expenses, the balance being contributed by the manufacturers. The hand-blown section of the industry is small, and it would, we think, be impossible for it, in view of its other present and future commitments (even with the aid of a grant from the Board of Trade), to support a Design Centre capable of carrying out efficiently the functions which the Council has suggested. We therefore recommend that the glass industry as a whole should set up a Design Centre covering its entire production, its establishment being, however, dependent on adequate support from the greater part or all of the industry, in which event the hand-blown section will bear its share.

A Design Centre is in fact something very much wider than its name implies, acting as it does as the public relations department of the industry.

We have considered the location of the Design Centre should it be established, and we suggest Birmingham as being the best site, in that it is sufficiently central for the glass industry as a whole, and very conveniently situated in relation to Stourbridge.

  1. That the industry should make every effort continually to improve the standard of its design.
  2. That in those schools of art training designers who propose to find em­ployment in the industry, decoration by cutting should receive greater attention.
  3. That all possible encouragement and assistance should be given to the scheme for setting up in Edinburgh a department for advanced training and research in design for the glass industry.
  4. That to interest free-lance designers in glass design, competitions should be arranged for prizes provided by the manufacturers, who should have the option of purchasing designs.
  5. That the glass industry as a whole should set up a Design Centre covering its entire production, its establishment being, however, dependent on adequate support from the greater part or all of the industry.
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