Its long history and commitment make it the first and only factory to combine the beauty of fine art with the beauty of everyday objects. The story of the ‘white gold factory’ is that of a time-honoured vision, the story of an enterprise that has retained its standing of absolute preeminence for nearly 275 years, always questing for artistic and creative excellence while absorbing changing styles and developments in technique as they were introduced over the years.
The ‘white gold factory’ was founded in 1735 in Florence, in the grand duchy of Tuscany, by the great thinker and entrepreneur Marquis Carlo Andrea Ginori. When the Florentine aristocrat created the factory that was to become one of the most famous makers of artistic porcelain in the villa on the family estate in Doccia, ‘white gold fever’ had just begun to spread across Europe. The early days were difficult, but production soon accelerated. In 1747, there were just two kilns in the Doccia factory, one for majolica and one for porcelain. By 1774 the number of employees had risen to one hundred, and by 1838 there were five kilns, three for majolicas and stoves and two for porcelain, and there were almost 200 employees.
By 1889 there were fifteen kilns and 1,200 employees. The Ginori family’s success continued to 1896, when the company merged with Milanese ceramics manufacturer Augusto Richard, which already owned many factories in the north of Italy. And so Richard-Ginori was established. Many mechanical innovations were introduced in the workshops during this period, with new Art Nouveau influenced pieces now being made alongside “classic” models of Doccia production. When architect Gio Ponti took over as art director, he revitalised production, leaving a profound and lasting mark.
Growth was intense: so much so that by 1930 the factory covered over 80,000 square metres, with 40 kilns and 2,000 employees. After the Second World War it was decided to build a new factory “closer to the road.” It was to be constructed according to logical, modern criteria at Sesto Fiorentino, and the historic factory was moved from Doccia to here in 1958. A few years later, the Museum was moved as well.