Robert Welch studied silversmithing at Birmingham College of Art, eventually graduating from the Royal College of Art, London in 1952 having specialised in stainless steel product design. In 1956 he opened a workshop at Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, an area established fifty years earlier within the Guild of Handcrafts by such designers and social reformers as William Morris and Charles Robert Ashbee. Together with his contemporaries, including David Mellor, Welch lead British metalware to a new appreciation within design, the industry having faltered through the first half of the twentieth century. Through a long-running design consultancy for Old Hall of Sheffield, Welch developed fresh ideas within the design of stainless steel that continued the refined approach evident at the beginning of his career. In 1962 Welch had the opportunity to work with an iron foundry; the resulting products breathed fresh life into what was, at this time, a disregarded material. Candlesticks and pepper mills took on a new prominence in design. Welch’s 1966 table and floor lamps for Lumitron have an almost pop aesthetic. The bases were made from spun polished aluminium, while the lamp was constructed from two acrylic domes, mounted over one another, and supported by a lower acrylic housing. The larger outer dome was smoked to diffuse the light. Robert Welch continues to work as a family concern from Chipping Campden, both as an industrial designer and silversmith, producing light fittings alongside one-off commissions in silver. Interest in the refined functionality of his pieces has remained strong.
Campden range, 1956, toast rack, coffee set, cruet set – salt pot, pepper pot, mustard pot, spoon
Oriana range, 1957, designed for P&O liner of same name, small serving dish, oval serving dish, water jug, milk jug, sugar bowl, teapot, cutlery set
Three part candleholder, 1957
Alveston tableware, 1962, teapot, hot water jug, milk jug, cruet set, vase, cutlery set.