The Nymphenburg Palace towers over a large open space with ponds and fountains. Gazing at it lets your imagination gallop through time, conjuring images of horse-drawn carriages and fanfares. Turning your gaze to the right of the white gleaming structure you see a long, two-storey building with high wooden doors, behind which lies a microcosm of tradition, skill and contemporary art.
The Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg is the only porcelain producer worldwide, where the term “manu-factum” or"made by hand" still rings true. For centuries the manufactory has stuck to the traditional way of creating its “white gold”. Everything is made by hand and on-site, from mixing the raw materials to adding a finishing polish.
This summer DLDwomen is celebrating its 4th edition in the unique setting of the Porcelain Manufactory. DLD’s connection to Nymphenburg lies in the focus on innovation through design and art. From the very beginning in the 18th Century contemporary artists, of every era, created designs for the royal manufactory. These creative experiments were not about adding paint to a plate or vase, but about reinventing one of the most prestigious consumer goods over and over again. In the course of three-hundred years around 40,000 designs have been produced for private and corporate clients, as well as official award ceremonies and art exhibitions. Today many associate porcelain figures with a grandmother’s ornamented cabinet, but that doesn’t do justice to the socio-cultural significance of the art and meaning behind Nymphenburg porcelain. There was a time when the delicate figurines were similar to today’s state of the art apps. They provided content for small talk and conversation at every dinner party or social gathering.
The Commedia dell’Arte figurines by Franz Anton Bustelli, for example, were sophisticated means of provocation. The way they’re dressed and their postures were considered an affront in the buttoned-up and morally prudent society of the 18th Century. Moreover porcelain used to reflect the owner’s status and sophistication, and there’s a revival in lifestyle trends to value personal belongings and invest in one’s private sphere. The Porcelain Manufactory is a trendsetter in this field and collaborates with designers like DLD friends Pae White and Konstantin Grcic.
Artists who realise creative projects with the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg encounter a highly skilled and dedicated workforce of around 70 specialists. Some of the employees in the porcelain workshops are irreplaceable for their skill and experience. Mr. Zeus for instance is the only person worldwide who knows how to make the perfect mixture for the raw paste of Nymphenburg porcelain. He spends his working days in the old buildings where large mixing machines stir the clay-like substance, and in the cellar where the raw porcelain is stored under specific conditions. The workshops are an antidote to the fast-paced digitized world, as the whole manufactory is powered by a water mill and is engulfed in an atmosphere of masterly concentration. The Manufactory’s achievement to remain steeped in tradition and still create contemporary pieces of art is just another reason for DLDwomen to draw inspiration from its location in 2013.
In the run up to the DLDwomen conferernce we will bring you more exclusive insights from the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg.