Barber & Osgerby designs miscellaneous tableware collection for Royal Doulton

London designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby have created a mismatched tableware range for British ceramics company Royal Doulton (+ slideshow).

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

Barber & Osgerby's collection comprises 40 objects including cutlery, serving platters, and a full tabletop crockery set all produced by Royal Doulton.

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

First established in 1815, Royal Doulton has had a turbulent recent history. In 2005 it was acquired by Ireland-based Waterford Wedgwood – an amalgamation of another two historic homeware brands – which ran into financial difficulties and went into administration in 2009.

Now owned by investment firm KPS Capital as part of WWRD Holdings, Royal Doulton is celebrating its 200th anniversary with a series of collaborations with artists and designers including Barber & Osgerby.

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

The duo's range is named Olio, which means a miscellaneous collection. The items are made from stoneware, wood and stainless steel, and are designed to be used alongside existing objects in the home.

Pieces include an open-mouthed matt black stoneware jug, a deep wooden serving platter with a handle, and simple stainless steel cutlery.

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

"Olio was conceived as a collection of objects that each has their own individual character," Barber told Dezeen. "Much of this character comes through the diversity and combination of the materials and different coloured glazes."

"The palette of unglazed and glazed stoneware, and natural oak gives a feeling of a kitchen cupboard full of objects for everyday use," he added.

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

The forms and finishes of the collection reference handmade and found objects from all over the world.

"There is an unexpected irregularity to the forms and glazes of handmade ceramics, and raw ceramic has a wonderful tactility," said Barber. "Whilst in mass production the shapes remain pretty uniform, we have captured a feeling of the handmade by exposing parts of the stoneware to capture the material's character."

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

The duo chose to use matt black stoneware after visiting the Royal Doulton factory in Stoke on Trent, UK, where they saw colour-tinted Jasperware vases in production.

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

"The unglazed black and terracotta stoneware has an even stronger feel of hand-crafted ceramic and traditional working methods," said Barber.

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

The mix of shapes and materials is intended to ensure that Olio is not seen as a formal set, but rather as a casual collection of objects that people will be able to use alongside their existing tableware.

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

"We want people to use the items as they choose in many different contexts; the kitchen table, the dining table or in a restaurant," said Barber. "Some of the pieces could have different uses: the jug could be a vase, the wooden-handled server could be used as a bread basket or a fruit bowl."

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

"We hope these pieces will effortlessly mix in amongst existing objects people have collected over the years," he added. "The idea is to be informal, giving the user ultimate freedom, that's why it's called Olio."

Olio collection by Barber & Osgerby for Royal Doulton

Olio will launch across the UK in May. Previous projects by the duo include the 2012 Olympic torch, a £2 coin for the Royal Mint, and a permanent gallery at London's Science Museum.