The Village Coffee and Tea Set (Prototype)
by Robert Venturi for Swid Powell


Artist/Designer: Robert Venturi
b. 1925, Philadelphia 
Title: The Village Coffee and Tea Set
Medium: Ceramic
Dimensions: Coffeepot: 10.5" h with lid (6.5" h without lid) 9" x 5.25". Teapot: 5.75" h with lid (3.5"h without lid) 10" x 5". Sugar: 4.75"h with lid (2.5"h without lid) 4.5" x 4.15". Creamer 3.15"h x 7.25" x 4.5".
Manufacturer: Swid Powell
Details: Prototype set, circa 1983. Condition is very good overall with fine crackling in the glaze consistent with age and the fact these were one-off prototypes, not production versions. Each is marked with a sticker denoting the prototype identifying number, as there may have been a few variations made before approval for production. Coffeepot and Teapot have some overall fine crackling in the white glaze but the color blocks are crisp and clean. Tiny vent hole in the underside of each handle. Teapot has a tiny firing crack on the inside edge of the inner lip. Sugar is in very good condition. Creamer is in very good condition with one tiny crack in spout on very edge. Stickers are marked V6, V7, V8 and V9 so we know these prototypes were produced together as a set.
Notes from the Archive: As described in the book, Swid Powell: Objects by Architects by Annette Tapert, "The Village Coffee and Tea Set consists of a coffeepot in the shape of a Tuscan tower, a Parthenon-shaped teapot, a peasant's hut sugar bowl and a palazzo-shaped creamer." Robert Venturi is often referred to as the father of the Post-Modern movement. His famous epigram shakes up the famous Mies van der Rohe quote, "Less is More" to define a new generation of architecture and design with "Less is a bore". Penny Tapert notes that Venturi felt, "What architecture needed was a 'messy vitality', with its myriad references to history, symbolism, form and popular culture." In explaining the connection between his architecture projects and the pieces he designed for Swid Powell, Venturi says, "In architecture I use applied ornament from many different sources. Or as my partners and I say, 'We do buildings with Queen Anne in front and Mary Ann behind.' We like pop elements and high art elements - as I do in my decorative art work. But for all the correlation, Venturi says, "the source for these products is even more general. Quite simply, I love decorative arts."
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