Tea kettle and stand
Electroplate with ebonized wood details
Museum no. M.935-1983
Dresser enrolled at the Government School of Design, a forerunner of the V&A, when just thirteen. Later he studied plant forms with a view to applying principles of organic growth to the newly emerging category of mass-produced consumer products. A distinguished academic and successful design consultant (he advised Wedgwood and Minton), Dresser is best known for the astonishing geometrical metalware he designed during the 1870s. These were the most uncompromised industrial designs ever seen. So far from imitating vegetable forms, his toast racks and kettles are entirely without precedent. And, indeed, without successors. After this bout of vivid creativity, Dresser returned to more conventional Victorian models: despite predicting the Bauhaus, Dresser was an eccentric one-off, unable to escape the suffocating excess of his age.
Stephen Bayley, Guest Curator