The labels “fragile” and “handle with care” have never been as vivid as when Annabelle Mallia perused the gleaming white shelves of Germany’s most exclusive porcelain manufacturers.
Familiarize yourself with the old German tradition of porcelain making.
Resembling the fine, translucent surface of the cowry shell, porcelain has been embellishing many of Europe’s ruling houses since the 13th century. Imported from China at astronomical prices, the white material was held in such great esteem that many attempted to reproduce it. The first European porcelain dates back to the early 1700s, when Elector Augustus the Strong’s Meissen factory in Dresden finally cracked the code to porcelain in 1708. Made with a combination of kaolin clay and alabaster mined from Saxony, the recipe was closely guarded thereafter as a trade secret. The “crossed swords” identifying Meissen porcelain have since become a symbol of quality and tradition, and samples can be admired and bought at a handful of Berlin
stores (Kurfürstendamm 21, Unter den Linden 39b, www.meissen.com).
Also of noble lineage, Berlin’s Königliche Porzellan- Manufaktur, or KPM Berlin, was created in 1763 when King Frederick the Great of Prussia bought a local porcelain factory. The royal company has since been privatized, but tradition continues to reign. Every piece is shaped, fired, glazed, and exquisitely decorated by
hand at their manufactory in the district of Tiergarten ( Wegelystr. 1. www.kpm-berlin.com), where you’ll also find their flagship and outlet store. Visitors can take a tour, attend a workshop, and enjoy refreshments at the cafè – served on the finest KPM dishes, of course. For more affordable pieces, visit Rosenthal (Kurfürstendamm 200, www.rosenthal.de) with their contemporary designs in porcelain and glass. With their headquarters and factory in Selb, they are in fact Germany’s market leader in this delicate segment.
The KPM showroom. Below: KPM products.