Art / Design /

Franz Collection’s Exquisite Porcelain

Europeans have called porcelain “white gold” for centuries, ever since looking at the works of clay transmogrified into things of beauty by Middle Kingdom artisans. Porcelain, whether functional bowls or display pieces, has attracted the eyes of aficionados and aesthetes, including those in the West, where local artisans worked to recreate the beautiful Chinese art. Today, the Taiwan-based porcelain maker Franz has been conceiving new works that are favourites in both East and West.

Photo by Medici Doc.

Making porcelain is a tradition that evinces knowledge, passion and beauty. The best porcelain requires long hours of crafting and painting done by artisans just to make a single three-dimensional piece. This skillful deployment of aesthetics and expertise has established the reputation of Franz as one of the world’s most renowned makers of porcelain objets d’art.

The brand is the brainchild of founder Chen Li-Heng and takes its moniker from Chen’s German name. He had a long career heading original-equipment and original-design manufacturing firms before changing direction to found Franz in 2001. Heritage is something that Chen takes seriously: Unlike biotechnology or other modern sciences, culture and the arts are the culmination of the wisdom of countless generations and traditions, he says.

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In its first few years, Franz the brand picked up a prestigious “Best in Gift” award from the New York International Gift Show. It has also been given a “Seal of Excellence for Handicrafts” from UNESCO for five consecutive years.

The company, based in Taiwan, has its main factory in Jingdezhen, in China’s southeastern Jiangxi province, the centre of that nation’s porcelain industry, to ensure that the brand is steeped in an artisanal spirit. Nature inspires many of the pieces crafted by Franz. Nature also inspired the firm to implement an environmentally friendly design and production process. The firm was invited to exhibit at the British Zero-Carbon Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, while a collaboration with resulted in the Steinway Sun and Moon Reflection piano, complete with 3D printed ceramic parts and screws.

In the Chinese tradition, porcelain is a visual art that depicts an ideal harmony between heaven, earth and humanity.

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Franz’s designs all distinctly infuse nature into clay to tell stories. Franz’s Venice Peony series, for example, was inspired by Marco Polo’s journey to the East. Pieces are dominated by Oriental colours and peony flowers, which represent nobility. Meanwhile, the Giuseppe Castiglione collection was inspired by pieces made by the Catholic priest when he was an envoy to the court of the Qing- dynasty emperor Qianlong in the 18th century. Porcelain from both series reflect a European sensibility fused with traditional Chinese aesthetics and techniques of production.

The diversity of the pieces Franz collection are matched by their exclusivity, since production is quite limited, which increases their collectability. “A piece from Franz will only see its value increase after a century,” Ardi Joanda, the president of Medici, said when discussing the Franz pieces on offer Medici’s flagship showroom at the Landmark Centre Building in South Jakarta.

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The heritage value of porcelain from Franz have also made the pieces a favourite for gifts to world leaders. Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou gave a Franz piece to Pope Francis, while Hu Jiantao, then president of the People’s Republic of China gave Franz pieces to Barrack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel. Franz has been authorised to make reproductions of the works by Van Gogh by the Van Gogh Museum, as well as to make a special authorised series of works inspired by Cezanne, Rodin, Pissaro, Gauguin and others by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Pieces by Franz have been presented and collected by the members of several royal families as well as former US president George Bush, the queen of Nepal, and celebrities such as Mariah Carey and Elton John among others.

Every piece of porcelain made by Franz reflects a long tradition of quality, artisanal work and luxury. The pieces on offer at Medici’s flagship showroom allows us to enjoy some of the world’s best sculptured porcelain in our living spaces.

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