Cube teapot

ARTIST / MAKER: Robert Crawford Johnson (designer)
Cube Tea Pots Ltd. (manufacturer)
DATE: ca.1920 (made)
PLACE: England (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver-plate and wood
COLLECTION NUMBER: A.260

The English entrepreneur Robert Crawford Johnson (1882-1937) registered the design of this cube teapot in 1916. An engineer from Leicester, he created the shape in the hope that it would enable the stacking and storing of teawares in mass-catering establishments, where porcelain handles and spouts were vulnerable to breakages. He perfected the ingenious design to create a teapot that did not drip, was chip resistant, and which could be safely stacked. Johnson specified in his patent that the teapot could be made from either ceramic or plated metals depending on preference, and a wide array of cube teapots still exist today. Johnson’s design was the most successful patented teapot in Europe and America, used aboard transatlantic ocean liners, trains, in restaurants and hotels. The pared back and angular form of this teapot closely resembles the teawares that German Bauhaus advocates, such as Marianne Brandt, created several years later, reflecting the revolutionary designs that emerged in the first decades of the 20th century.