The Porcelain Road

December 01, 2022

With its unparalleled purity and finesse, porcelain has been synonymous with luxury and craftsmanship for centuries. While the first porcelains go back to 1600 BC in China, it took centuries to perfect the technique and create the refined material we know today as hard porcelain. From Jingdezhen in China to Limoges in France, let's follow the road of porcelain.

Early Anyang period, late Shang dynasty Jar. Circa 1225-1175 BCE

The name porcelain comes from the Italian "porcellana" referencing the Cypraea shell

A Chinese innovation that captivated the world

Porcelain was invented in Jingdezhen in the Jiangxi province of China. It is also called China or Fine China in English speaking countries. The name porcelain comes from the Italian "porcellana", a name given by Italian exporters in the 15th century in reference to the Cypraea shell, which they found similar in fineness. For a long time, porcelain was exported from China and its technique stayed a mystery for Europeans who tried to reproduce it without success. It took centuries for the art of porcelain to develop elsewhere, and in particular in Limoges in the 18th century, today the capital of luxury porcelain.

Kaolin clay mine

Raw Kaolin clay

Porcelain sculpture by Sandra Davolio

Crafting kaolin

Porcelain is a ceramic created from kaolins heated to over 1200°C. These very brittle white clays were discovered in China. It was the discovery of a kaolin mine in France followed by its purchase by the French king Louis XV that led to the development of porcelain in the Limoges region. There are in fact two types of materials called “porcelain” which are sometimes confused. The hard porcelain white, thin and translucent is made from kaolin. Porcelaine de Limoges is one of the most exquisite. Another quality, called soft porcelain or Bone China is a less noble material, heated at a lower temperature, without kaolin and which can be colored

Voltra X J.L Coquet Hemisphere Lantern

Filtering light in a unique way

Hard porcelain is a material of choice for luminaires because of its unique way of filtering light. Its white color takes on a warm, golden tone while, thanks to its thinness, the material diffuses an even light with a beautiful volume. The result is a unique ambiance: warm and intimate. Voltra collaborated with J.L Coquet, the iconic Limoges porcelain manufacturer, to create a line of cordless lamps inspired by its signature Hemisphere tableware range. By combining Voltra's wireless lighting technology and design with J.L Coquet's centuries-old porcelain know-how, our Hemisphere line offers a magical and timeless experience.

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