Röstrand started as a porcelain factory in 1726, but they actually started making porcelain more than 130 years later, in 1857. Rörstrand had its international break through around 1900 with their Art Noveau/Jugend art pottery. In the thirties design and artist became very important, and Rörstrand hired many talented designers from the early thirties to the sixties. The fifties was Rörstrand’s heydays and the seventies their depression. Röstrand has been bought and sold many times the last fifty years and is now owned by Fiskars.
A German adventurer, Johan Wolff, founded Rörstrand in 1726. His aim was to create Swedish porcelain, but he really only mastered faience. Anders Fahlström becomes Rörstrand’s first Swedish supervisor in 1741. Previous supervisors were German or Dutch. Because the factory was one of a kind in Sweden, all products were marked ”Stockholm”. After receiving competition in 1758, they start to mark all goods ”Rörstrand”.
In 1855 Gustav Holdo Stråle takes over the running of the factory and Robert Almström becomes supervisor. The factory expanded, more study trips were made abroad and production was renewed. Rörstrand becomes a ceramic large-scale industry.
Finally in 1857 Rörstrand is producing porcelain. In 1874. Rörstrand established Arabia outside Helsinki to be able to reach the huge Russian market.. Rörstrand introduced the crown stamp and copyrights it in 1884.
At the turn of the century,. Rörstrand is starting to attract artists and designers. Alf Wallander, Rörstrand’s noted Art Noveau/Jugend designer, was hired to make art pottery for the art and industrial exhibition in Stockholm in 1897. Rörstrand receives a gold medal for the collection, which included pieces by Alf Wallander, Anna Boberg and others. Rörstrand exhibits at the Paris world fair in 1900. This was Rörstrand’s international breakthrough, where the new Art Noveau/Jugend-inspired art pottery was very successful .
In 1916 Rörstrand sells Arabia. Rörstrand starts collaborating with ALP in the early twenties, and later this decade Rörstrand moves it business from Stockholm to Gothenburg. Finally, in the mid-thirties, they moved to new premises in Lidköping.
Fredrik Wehtje, the new CEO at Rörstrand in 1932, realized the importance of employing good artists and designers. Gunnar Nylund started working at Rörstrand in the early 1930s and he was to be followed by many famous artists. Wehtje remained chief executive until 1963.
Carl-Harry Stålhane started his career working for Rörstrand in 1939. He assisted the artist Isaac Grünewald and studied in Paris before becoming famous in his own right for his stoneware, glaze experiments and dinnerware. Stålhane worked at Rörstrand until 1973 when he established his own ceramic business outside Lidköping, Designhuset.
Hertha Bengtson was employed as designer and artist in 1941. She had previously worked as a pattern designer before she got her position at Rörstrand at age 24. She excelled in creating objects and services for “a more beautiful everyday life” in the 1950s.
Marianne Westman was offered an employment at Rörstrand in 1950. Early on she started sketching the dinnerware that was to become her greatest success, Mon Amie.
Whilst the fifties were Rörstrand’s very best decade with more 1500 employees working at the factory, the seventies was possibly the worst. 200 employees are let go to improve profitability and the knowledge of those artists, designers, craftsmen and other factory workers were gone.
Then a carousel of mergers, takeovers and acquisitions takes place. In 1975 Arabia (which previously was founded and sold by Rörstrand) buys the Uppsala-Ekeby group (which bought Rörstrand in 1964). In 1978 the Wärtsilä group buys Rörstrand. In 1989 Hackman buy’s Wärtsilä’s porcelain production, including Rörstrand, Arabia and Gustavsberg and the business continues in the name Hackman-Rörstrand. In 2003 Rörstrand was bought by Iittala Inc and in 2004 all production moved to Hungary and Sri Lanka and about 150 employees are let go. Finally, Fiskars Inc buys the Iittala group, including Rörstrand, in 2007.