From 1920's staple to iconic British design | Falcon Enamelware
To celebrate the launch of a limited-edition, Tea for Two Gift Set featuring our very own English Breakfast tea, we chatted to the husband and wife team behind this iconic British brand to understand more about the brand’s evolution, their colourful plans for the future and how they go about doing things properly.
You took over this iconic British brand in 2010 from its previous owner. How did you first come across Falcon & how did the transition come about?
It was in 2010 when we first came across a real opportunity. We were working on a restaurant project where we were looking to source the original white with blue rim enamelware but couldn’t seem to get hold of it anywhere. We managed to track down the owner which led to a meeting on the side of the M1 with the then-owner and a bag full of samples. This was the start of our enamelware revival. A lot of work had to be done to modernise the brand so we started work on new designs, increased the gauge of the steel on classic pieces such as the mug to make it more durable, introduced gift sets and new colours. You can spot our pieces by looking on the underside; each product has our Falcon crest stamped underneath so you can tell if it’s genuine Falcon Enamelware!
How have you seen the brand evolve over the past 9 years since you’ve been running the business?
When we started the brand, we had only introduced three core colours; the classic white with blue rim, Pigeon Grey and Pillarbox Red. The collection was quite minimal, where we kept many of the original designs such as the enamel mug, teapot and plates. We then designed new additions such as the 3 Pint Jug, which is one of our best sellers to date. Over the years we’ve introduced gift sets, such as our five-piece Bake Set, as well as limited edition colours. Expanding the collection and introducing new designs has helped us keep the brand fresh. We started as a team of three, and now there’s ten of us who span across marketing, logistics and trade. A proud moment was when we first started selling in Liberty of London in 2012 - they are now our best performing retailer as it happens.
Was there a moment, whether a particular collaboration or an instagram snap that catapulted Falcon into the contemporary kitchen?
There wasn’t a particular moment, but over the last few years we’ve started to see enamelware used in more restaurants due to its classic and minimal design. I think people associate it with that utilitarian style, and by expanding the colour range in more recent years, we’ve been able to modernise the collection and keep it on trend. We find today that many foodie influencers like to use our enamelware because it’s aesthetically pleasing, giving food a white backdrop to really ‘pop’ on a screen. This obviously has helped our popularity reach a new younger audience.
How important was your background in designing food and drink concepts to your vision for the Falcon brand?
We’re both product designers by training, so naturally we’re always thinking about colour, form and functionality. Designing food and drink concepts was how we stumbled across Falcon Enamelware at the very beginning, so for us, our knowledge of the industry has given us some really important trend insight. We’ve always had a clear vision for the brand; we wanted to revive the existing designs for the twenty first century, maintaining their classic simplicity in a more modern setting.
What do you think has kept Falcon enamelware so relevant today despite being a product developed in the 1920’s?
There has always been a huge sense of nostalgia that comes with the classic white and blue rim design, and there is something so simple about enamelware; it’s utilitarian and minimal, which I don’t think will go out of style. In the 1920’s enamelware was popular due to it’s hard wearing nature and functionality, but not necessarily for its style. There was certainly a period between the 60’s and 90’s where porcelain became more fashionable and people wanted to have more variety in design, colour and shape in their tableware. But it’s clear to see that the form and functional elegance of enamelware is still very much appealing 100 years on. It also compliments other materials found in the kitchen such as wood, porcelain and clay pots, for example, and is a great alternative to plastic. We’ve always said that we want to design products that will be passed on through generations so our children’s children will use them.
Falcon products are made from inherently ‘sustainable’ materials - have you found that this has more resonance for customers now that it did 10 years ago?
Sustainability has become more important amongst our customers in recent years. When we first revived the business almost ten years ago, the fact that enamelware is a brilliant plastic alternative was more of an ’added bonus’ for those purchasing enamelware. We have always had a small minority of customers would shop with us for this reason however, it’s just that our other customers are starting to become more aware and conscious of what materials they buy. We’re all reusing more; many of our customers tell us that they use our tumblers as reusable coffee cups which we love to hear. We have been trying to develop a way we can make a proper reusable cup with lid and sleeve - it’s proving trickier than it sounds to find the most suitable sustainable materials but watch this space.
Doing things properly is something that as a business we try to infuse into our day to day work - whether in how we respond to emails, how we pack up orders in the Warehouse or we go about sourcing and selecting our teas. What ethos do you and your team work by?
We’re all incredibly invested in the products we design and sell. We all use Falcon Enamelware at home; our kitchen is full of it and so is the rest of the team’s. Using a product on a daily basis really does instill a sense of advocacy and loyalty, and I think it’s so important to have that for a brand.
The beautiful simplicity of the Falcon enamelware is surely what has made it so iconic. What plans do you have to take Falcon into the next decade?
We have so many exciting plans for the brand to move it into the next decade. We’ve touched upon it previously, but something so prominent in today’s market is sustainability - we’d love to produce a collection of products designed to be reused, such as coffee cups, bento boxes and fridge storage. We’re not quite there yet but it’s something we’re working on. We place a huge amount of importance on colour; we develop new limited edition colours each season so something in the nearer future will be the launch of some new designs and colours to match with existing pieces.
Browse the full range of Falcon Enamelware products, including the new limited-edition Gift Set, at www.falconenamelware.com