Design with Staying Power

It’s one thing to love the beauty and delicacy of antique tableware but it’s quite another to wash everything by hand and live  in fear of breaking the irreplaceable. But what if you could have dishwasher safe products hand finished to an antique design? Enter Onion Pattern porcelain. 

The birth of a design classic

It was during the baroque period in 18th century Germany that the onion pattern (or Zwiebelmuster) was first created.  The baroque can be noted in the design flourishes- the curvy rims, the rosebud tips, the fluted spouts and the delicate ruching. It’s the antithesis of minimal. But sometimes you just need something a bit fancy in your life.

 The baroqiue details of the Onion Pattern design

The baroqiue details of the Onion Pattern design

Lost in translation

The name of the design was born from a misunderstanding. Someone unfamiliar with exotic fruits incorrectly identified the pomegranate as an onion and the name stuck. You’d think that calling a design after an onion rather than a pomegranate would be branding death- but the workaday name didn’t seem to affect its popularity.

Indeed by the 1860s it was de rigeur for wealthy German families to own the onion pattern and dowries would recommend a minimum service of 7 dozen cups with plates. 

 Onion pattern coffee pot with mugs and breakfast platter

Onion pattern coffee pot with mugs and breakfast platter

Reading the leaves

The Onion pattern was created in response to a fashion for the orient - a style known as “Chinoiserie” and contains certain symbolic elements that follow the eastern principles of decorative art.

The chrysanthemum branch is representative of the lotus or aster of the original Ming design. This flower symbolises time. A thick bamboo branch entwined by a climbing flowering plant represents cohesion.

The central motif- a double sharply serrated leaf – thought to be a peony flower- symbolises wealth, stateliness and growth.

Finally, the pomegranate or “onion” symbolises fertility and abundant healthy children.

 The botanical decoration follows the principles of Eastern symbolism

The botanical decoration follows the principles of Eastern symbolism

Sounds like the perfect wedding gift. And if it's time and cohesion we’re talking about – what better than a design that has remained unchanged for 300 years.

Browse our range of Onion Pattern porcelain here