Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Visiting the Royal Deft: Delfts Blauw, De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles

If you are going to imitate something, then you better do it well. Or perhaps, better?

That’s the story in a nutshell with Royal Delft in the Netherlands, the porcelain company (Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles) with roots going back to the second half of the 16th century.

The Royal Delft Museum and Factory for the 'Royal Delft Experience' tour.

The Dutch weren’t the inventors of blue pottery. They learned this skill from Italian potters and copied Chinese-style porcelain brought back by Dutch seamen from the Far East through the Dutch East India Company (VOC – Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie), which by the way is the first publicly traded company in the world.

If there is another thing than trade that the Dutch did was good, that would have to be being master imitators of porcelain ware. Demand for blue porcelain skyrocketed and before long enough business was doing very well that the company made investments of more than 32 factories in Delft and a number in Amsterdam, Haarlem, and Middelburg.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

This  is a real car, not a car made of porcelain =)

A Royal Delft porcelain dress.

But just like the saying that goes, “What comes up, must come down” is quite true in the case of Royal Delft. Competition and discovery of new cheaper materials made the demand for the product difficult to sustain. By the 18th century, the earthenware industry in Delft was having big problems. Then a century later, the once prosperous industry was struggling to stand on its own.

It was only at the end of the 19th century that Delft blue ware was survived with the intention of restoring an old Dutch artisan tradition of producing hand-painted Delft Blue porcelain. In 1919, the predicate “Royal” was granted to Porceleyne Fles company. Hence, ‘Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles’ or Royal Delft for its efforts in preserving Dutch tradition.

Interesting history huh?

Well, I have been living for 15 years in the Netherlands and it was only this year that I have visited the Royal Delft museum and factory. It’s one of those places that is aimed mostly at visiting international tourists. The figures of tourists coming here to visit Royal Delft can definitely confirm this claim. I didn’t realize that this is a one big tourist attraction (that I have been missing, haha).

This is the traditional tulip vase, the super extra large one, of course, showcasing each tulip, which was very costly back in those days. I honestly do not find this vase display attractive at all.

I went here because of my friend, Bubbles. She wanted to visit so I took the opportunity of playing tourist with her. I haven't been as well, so why not?

Before we arrived in Delft, I made a mental note of its location. We managed to pick up a map at the tourist office, but since the Royal Delft museum and factory is located outside the city center, it did not really show in detail the streets going to the address. To make the story short, we got lost and had to weave our way through many streets and ask a couple of people for directions. It was a long detour that we didn't expect, but because of this blessing in disguise setback, we were able instead to see a lot of Delft on foot =).

Nevertheless, after the suspense of getting lost and arriving at the Royal Delft museum and factory and seeing big tour buses parked outside was like coming to terms that we may have been tourist trapped, lol. A double whammy =)

There were SO MANY tourists! The cashiers spoke English and were asking us which country we came from. We honestly did not know how we were going to follow the self-guided tour with all the crowd around us.

The artist at work.

So Bubbles and I were squeezed between group tours. Sometimes we have to wait before we could go further because the whole room or corridor is full of guests. I had the feeling that it is peak hours here every hour. The only advantage we were able to get out of being sandwiched between group tours is listening to the tour guide for (free) inside information.

Such as the story about the tower porcelain vases which I find very ugly. The tower vases are actually made for tulips. They are specially designed to showcase every flower, which explains the neck holes that can hold each tulip uprightly. Back then, tulips were very costly, and displaying them one by one in this porcelain vase is a way of showing off your wealth and status in the society.

Nonetheless, I really find it ugly, but its great to learn about its history and purpose, which in the end, isn't really that noble at all. I find it very superficial.

I will park my keyboard for now and let the rest of the pictures do the talking.

Here is the timeline and milestones of the company for those who are interested: Timeline Royal Delft

Tile work exhibition and this is the Delft blue tiles art work representing Rembrandt's life size painting, "The Night Watch" (De Nachwacht). You can find the original painting at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Every year, Royal Delft releases a limited collector's item plate to the market. These are the plates through the years.

Moi trying on the porcelain wooden shoes. Nah, too big for moi.

Dinner ware collection for sale at the Royal Delft store and souvenir shop.

I am not very fond of these Dutch windmill prints. Nope, thank you very much.

But I quite like this, especially the dinnerware plates. Simple, elegant and modern. The less prints, the better. 

A very nice pan with porcelain cover, the Royal Dutch Oven version. Tradition meets modern design.

Travel Period: April 2017
Destination: Delft (South Holland), the Netherlands

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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