From its beginning in 1924, Rafi and Mildred Mottahedeh had always prided themselves on creating designs that pay homage to centuries-old craftsmanship and creativity. With a marked preference for Chinese, German and English porcelain, Mottahedeh’s products focus on the complex and beautiful colours, shapes and sizes that can be seen in ceramics from these origins. With each piece weaving an intricate story for future generations, Mottahedeh has cast itself as one of the world’s finest manufacturers of high-fire porcelain, produced primarily in Europe.
Current owners Wendy and Grant Kvalheim continue to pass down the company’s values and celebration of history through usable art. For over thirty years, Wendy Kvalheim has continued to build on the company’s philosophy whilst also shaping new directions to ensure the growth and solid future of Mottahedeh. This expansion includes several new products as well as holding licenses with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Winterthur Museum and Gardens, Mount Vernon, Historic Charleston Foundation, and Tony Duquette for creating authentic fine china reproductions. In recent years, they have also been commissioned by the White House, the U.S. State Department, and the Diplomatic Corps to produce collections used in an official state capacity. Mottahedeh is also the proud and exclusive U.S. distributor for R. Haviland & C. Parlon, J. Seignolles Limoges Porcelain, and Rookwood for Mottahedeh stoneware
Coming up to its 100th anniversary in 2024, Mottahedeh has created an incredible legacy thanks to its resourceful founders and Wendy’s continued motivation and passion for creating reproductions from original antiquities. Holding a degree in Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute of Fine Arts in New York and a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College, Wendy can spot contemporary design directions and anticipate trends.
“At Pratt, I studied casting, glazing, and technical aspects of making reproductions from antique originals because I wanted to do museum work; I also wanted to be a figurative sculptor.” With an artist’s understanding of colour and a sculptor’s knowledge of casting, Kvalheim understood the depth and complexity of Mottahedeh’s many designs.
“But ultimately, we are not focused purely on what we think will sell, but on what speaks to us visually and/or with a great story. Ultimately, it is about the creator of the art form in whatever century.”
Produced mainly in Portugal, Mottahedeh designs and manufactures dinnerware and decorative accessories under their flagship brand, as well as Milestone by Mottahedeh. Offering an incredible collection of timeless fine china dinnerware patterns such as Tobacco Leaf and Blue Canton, all the pieces are produced to the highest standards, perfect for everyday use, and are oven- and dishwasher-safe.
Although not individually hand painted, a series of unique decorations are printed on paper as water-transfers and then applied by hand to the porcelain during the glaze firing stage. The adornment then transforms into glass after fusing to the porcelain as the oxides and glaze melt. This finished piece boasts the same quality as a hand-painted piece and can be strengthened by an additional hand-finished layer.
The intricate process and attention to detail are what make Mottahedeh’s designs so striking and timeless, far exceeding the quality of many of its contemporaries.
Building on the best of the past while preparing Mottahedeh for the future, Wendy Kvalheim assures upcoming generations the possibility of owning finely crafted high-fire porcelains and fine china, in beautiful patterns, of historical note and provenance.