The great Spanish conquest: Valencia-based global porcelain giant, Lladro turns 70

Valencia-based global porcelain giant, Lladro, marks its 70th anniversary with a grand flagship store in Delhi, its eighth in the country
The Lladro story in India may be two decades old, but the brand’s inception goes back as far as 1953. (Photo | Wikimedia Commons)
The Lladro story in India may be two decades old, but the brand’s inception goes back as far as 1953. (Photo | Wikimedia Commons)

Until 2004, that is. That’s when Lladro realised the potential of the Indian market. So, instead of waiting for customers to come to it, it decided to come to India by opening an outlet in Mumbai. Nearly two decades later, it has launched a flagship store in Delhi (it has showrooms in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata). 

What Cartier was to the Indian Maharajas in the 1900s, Lladró is to modern-day moguls. If Indian royalty travelled to Paris to commission exclusive jewellery designs, contemporary Indian collectors travelled to Europe to bring back creations of the Spanish lifestyle and Home decor brand.

The sprawling 5,000 sqft establishment located on MG Road is a comprehensive showcase of everything that Lladró has on offer in its global stores. The ground floor of the three-storeyed space showcases contemporary pieces with the ‘New Concept’ line, which includes popular designs by famous Spanish artist Jaime Hayon. The second floor is all about ‘Heritage’, and features pieces with a special focus on the series, ‘Spirit of India,’ comprising Hindu iconography.

The topmost floor has the ‘High Porcelain’ category alongside a selection of ‘New Classics’. “With our diverse catalogue, we have something to offer to everyone who values art, design and craftsmanship. Our customers are jet-setters inspired by different cultures around the world. And while they value tradition with its great wealth of details and colours, they are also lovers of contemporary art with bold and striking designs that have a sense of playfulness,” says Nikhil Lamba, the brand’s India CEO. 

“Lladró’s relationship with India started with the launch of a limited-edition sculpture of Lord Ganesha,” he recalls. Since then, the brand has introduced many more deities, especially Lakshmi, Radha-Krishna and Rama-Sita, as well as diyas and lamps for Diwali. “Over the last few years, appreciation for our contemporary designs and lighting creations has also increased, especially among interior designers and architects,” Lamba adds. The brand’s heritage sculptures range from Rs 15,000 and go up to Rs 5-6 lakh. The ‘New Concept’ designs are priced upwards of Rs 30,000. 

The light and scent products that include candles, diffusers and lamps range can cost anything between Rs 6,000 and Rs 1 lakh. The lighting category featuring chandeliers, floor and table lamps starts from Rs 1 lakh and goes up to Rs 80 lakh, depending upon the customisation. The High Porcelain sculptures which are all limited editions, are priced between Rs 7.5 lakh and Rs 2.47 crore. 

The Lladró story in India may be two decades old, but the brand’s inception goes back as far as 1953 when three brothers—Juan, José and Vicente Lladró—came together over their passion for porcelain and sculpted an empire out of it in the town of Tavernes Blanques in Valencia, Spain.

Seventy years on, the business continues to flourish, evolving and innovating by introducing new designs, finishes and categories. 

Apart from the glazed finish, which was introduced right at the beginning, Lladró has since added matte, re-deco (golden and silver lustre), gres, enamels and iridescent finish to its repertoire. Going beyond traditional porcelain figurines, it also introduced contemporary creations by collaborating with modern masters across the globe such as Marcel Wanders, Luca Nichetto and more.

This year, it plans to introduce a limited-edition sculpture in collaboration with Laolu Senbanjo, a renowned Nigerian artist based in New York. Over the years, the brand also diversified into lighting, jewellery and fragrances. 

<strong>File photo of the Lladró brothers</strong>
File photo of the Lladró brothers

Talking about Lladró’s consistent growth and popularity, Lamba says the company was instrumental in introducing the single-firing method over the original triple-firing one. The pioneering step helped them define another of their hallmarks: the characteristic pastel tones. “The knowledge of working with porcelain for 70 years and achieving a high level of intricacy and detailing all contribute to the uniqueness of a Lladró design,” he adds. 

The process itself is painstaking—first, an artist draws a sketch that is then made into a clay model. This, in turn, is made into a plaster replica to provide the first mould, which becomes the definitive mould for the porcelain figurine. The moulding process is time-consuming and strenuous as a mid-sized object may need between 15 and 20 moulds and sometimes up to 300 for a complex piece. Once the product is reconstructed, the ornamental process starts.

To give it its final appearance, delicate motifs are carved on its surface, all of which is done in compliance with the sculptor’s instructions. It is at this point of the creation process that the sculpture has a facial expression—so inherent to a Lladró design.

Finally, it is put to its ultimate challenge, the test of fire. It remains for an entire day in a kiln at over 1300ºC. The porcelain vitrifies, the varnish crystallises and Lladró’s true colours, which were not visible previously, come to the surface. Clearly, craftsmanship at its best.

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