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Susie Cooper: Mastering Elegance in 20th-Century Ceramics and Pottery Design - Natalia Willmott

Susie Cooper: Mastering Elegance in 20th-Century Ceramics and Pottery Design

"Pottery…is a practical and lasting form of art. Not everyone can afford original paintings, but most people can afford pottery." Susie Cooper


Susie Cooper was a pioneering English ceramic designer whose work helped to define the aesthetics of the 20th century and remains influential today. Her innovative designs and commitment to quality craftsmanship have earned her a lasting place in the history of ceramics. Here are 10 interesting facts about Susie Cooper that highlight her achievements and enduring legacy.


1. Early Beginnings in Ceramics

Born in 1902 in Stoke-on-Trent, England, Susie Cooper began her career at the age of 20 when she joined A.E. Gray & Co. Ltd as a paintress. Her talent quickly became apparent, and she was allowed to design as well as paint pottery.

2. Launching Her Own Pottery Business

In 1929, at the age of 27, Susie Cooper struck out on her own by founding Susie Cooper Pottery. This bold move allowed her to have complete creative control over her designs, a rarity for women in the business at that time.

3. Innovative Design Approach

Cooper was known for her innovative approach to design, often incorporating modernist shapes with bold colors and patterns. She was ahead of her time in blending functionality with aesthetic appeal in everyday objects.

4. Pioneering Bone China Work

In the late 1940s, Cooper began working with bone china, which was considered a significant shift in her design career. This transition allowed her to produce pieces that were both finer and more durable.

5. Award-Winning Designer

Her excellence in design was recognized in 1940 when she was awarded the Royal Designer for Industry award, one of the highest honors in British design, for her contribution to ceramics and pottery design.

6. Adaptation and Evolution

Throughout her career, Cooper demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt and evolve her styles in response to changing tastes and trends in design, ensuring her work remained relevant and sought after.

7. Global Recognition

Susie Cooper's designs gained international acclaim, with her work being exported worldwide. Her pieces are now coveted by collectors and design enthusiasts globally, attesting to her universal appeal.

8. Long and Productive Career

Cooper continued to design into the 1980s, marking over six decades of contribution to the field of ceramics. Her longevity in a competitive and fast-changing industry is a testament to her talent and adaptability.

9. Preservation of Legacy

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent house collections of Cooper's work, ensuring her legacy is preserved and accessible to future generations.

10. Influential Female Figure in Design

Susie Cooper is celebrated not only for her contributions to ceramic design but also for breaking gender barriers in a male-dominated industry. She remains an inspirational figure for women in design and entrepreneurship.

Susie Cooper's work continues to inspire designers and collectors alike, her legacy serving as a benchmark for quality, innovation, and style in the world of ceramics. Her pioneering spirit and timeless designs ensure she remains a significant figure in the history of 20th-century design. I love that she survived two factory fires and continued to innovate. She knew her talent and was a fantastic business woman.


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