MEISSEN: PLATE POLISHING
Tableware in a dematerialised economy
How much porcelain will we still be producing in the future? New production already seems superfluous today when one considers the masses of porcelain already produced and in working condition. What kind of tableware will we eat from in a dematerialized economy? In addition, the firing of porcelain consumes natural gas, which should be avoided as far as possible in view of the acute political situation and the increasingly noticeable global warming. As part of our “Metamorphosis Meissen” campaign, the Meissen State Porcelain Manufactory will change its core business from the production of new porcelain to the refinement, decoration and modernization of existing porcelain on a trial basis.
How does a state-owned porcelain company that depends on natural gas for the production of porcelain deal with a looming natural gas shortage? More specifically, how does a porcelain company, such as the state-owned Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, deal with the possibility of not being able to fire new porcelain for a period of time? How can Meissen become more ecologically sustainable at the same time?
Our answer to these questions is the “Metamorphosis Meissen” campaign, in which Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen initially stops producing porcelain for two months. At the same time, Meissen is questioning its business concept by offering the service of refining existing porcelain that Meissen customers have lying around at home, in addition to selling stock. I have called this service Tellerpolitur (plate polish). In addition to the refinement service, a photovoltaic system on the roofs of the manufactory will be financed during the campaign. In this context, a dinner event will be held to encourage guests to consider various questions about a more sustainable future. The refinement service finances the company in the short term during the firing stop. Looking to the longer term, it opens Meissen up to other business concepts in order to be more broadly positioned in the future and more resilient to crises and changes in customer consumption patterns. The interest in painted, floral tableware is not as high as it used to be in most European countries. The tastes of the population have changed, but Meissen’s product range has only adapted to this to a limited extent. The finishing service makes it possible to modernize and update already produced porcelain with kitschy, for the owner unattractive or out of fashion motifs using various finishing methods. The plates can be painted in a classic way, have sliding images applied or the surface can be matted using a stencil and sandblasting, thus adding a new finishing method. Sandblasting can also be used to remove an overglaze motif already on a plate. The finishing concept is also an answer to the question of how far the energy-intensive production of porcelain or ceramics in general can still be reconciled with sustainability standards in the future, such as enabling the smallest possible ecological rucksack and footprint for the consumer.