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How Cabbages Became Cool. Iconic Bordallo Pinheiro Ceramics.

The beauty of Iconic Ceramics in our homes.

Its sometimes hard to get your head around the two phrases 'cabbage ware' and 'iconic design' but the kitsch earthenware creations have stood the test of time and over the last few years have seen a resurgance in achieving quirky tablescapes in homes around the world.

Majolica and Bordallo are often intertwined and its easy to think that these pieces originate from the Balearic island of Mallorca but these ceramics were produced at a faiança factory in Caldas da Rainha so , a small city near Lisbon.

Bordallo Pinheiro is infamously known for its cabbage leaf design and is still to this days the company's most iconic designs. There are many vintage pieces available and depending on the design, some are rarer than others. They are still produced today and even sold in Harrods.

Bordallo Pinheiro's ceramics have become highly collectible.

Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro

Bordallo Pinheiro, the name of a renowned Portuguese ceramics and pottery company, was founded by Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (1846-1905) in 1884 as Fábrica de Faianças das Caldas in Portugal. Rafael was known for his creativity and ability to transform ceramics into works of art. Raphael was primarily a cartoonist and illustrator. Considered one of the first Portugeuse comic creators, he is perhaps best known for his depiction of the everyday man, Ze Povinho, who criticized the rich and powerful.


Portugal has been a hub for ceramic production for centuries. Indeed, much of the finer dinnerware product currently available originates in Portugal. Bordalo hailed from Caldas de Rainha, about 60 miles from Lisbon. Caldas has a history of ceramic production, including majolica. In 1853, Mafra and Son opened their factory in Caldas specializing in the reproduction of Palissy Ware. Palissy produced complex naturalist scenes using molds from real life. This local production no doubt influenced Bordallo in his designs when he began production in 1884.

Bordallo Pinheiro ceramics are still produced today in the same factory and some pieces still use the original moulds. The range has expanded to meet more modern design aesthetics but for us, they will always be a talking point on any table, be they vintage or new.


Unlike traditional faiança, which features colorful patterns similar to delft-ware, Pinheiro opted to make dramatic sculptures of icons and everyday objects in the style of majolica (the over 6ft. tall "Beethoven" vase still sits in the Museu Nacional de Bela Artes in Rio). His original ceramics, particularly his iconic cabbages designs, took off amongst people tired of ornamental ceramics, especially those in the factory's home city, whom he would often grant imperfect pieces as gifts.


Each Bordallo Pinheiro piece is shaped in traditional molds and then modified by hand to remove any excess clay, before being bisque-fired and then glazed by hand, following every vein of the cabbage leaf. Production today is still this way and I think thats probably why it has become collectible.


Whether you see these designs as whimsical, quirky or iconic, they are highly decorative as well as functional. Many combinations can be paired together to create your own look and feel. The bowls and plates can also be used as decorative wall hangings - perfect in a kitchen of course.

If you are looking for similar pieces, please get in touch.

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