When you’re looking at the origins of Duravit for the first time, you’ll be amazed. At the beginning of almost 200 year’s of production tradition there were no toilets, wash-basins or bidets. It was earthenware crockery in which Georg Friedrich Horn tried his luck when he founded his small factory in 1817 – a bold venture laying the roots of an international company.
Horn, who had made a good living as a tax collector, read the signs of his times: The
production of printed crockery, which was already very popular in England and
France, could be a promising business branch in the German countries, too. Hornberg served as a good basis for his little company: China clay, the base substance of earthenware crockery, could be sourced in big amounts in the vicinity of the Black Forest town. The deep forests right on Hornberg’s doorstep offered firewood for the kilns. Finally, Horn had reliable workers who ensured a high quality of production with both their diligence and their craft skills.
It is no wonder that despite severe opposition of a similar earthenware factory in Zell the small factory took root within only a few years. In 1830 the company was granted the unrestricted privilege of production. The design of the crockery met the tastes of the times, too. Carefully decorated plates, pots, bowls and terrines featuring printings of romantic landscapes and filigree ornaments corresponded to the style of the epoch.
Around the 1840s the company neared its first peak. Carl and Hermann Horn, the two sons of Georg Friedrich Horn who took over the firm in the meantime, employed
about 80 workers in their plant. However, there were sings of a significant change, too: During the middle of the 18th century the more genteel china gradually displaced the earthenware crockery on the tables of the well-funded social classes. So, the then board of management decided to expand the production to washbowls, chamber pots and similar things. It was a wise strategic descision that secured the company’s economic future and prepared the ground for today’s production of sanitary ware.
Only 1912 – exactly 100 years ago – came the end for crockery “Made in Hornberg”. The company, re-branded to “Schwarzwälder Steingutfabrik AG” in 1906, ceased the unprofitable production of earthenware. The memory, however, of these historic years of Duravit is still alive: In the Duravit Design Center you can marvel at the elaborate products of our ancestors and wallow in nostalgia.