With roots that go back to François Boch's ceramic business, founded in 1748, and Nicolas Villeroy's earthenware factory, founded in 1791, Villeroy & Boch was established in 1836 and is now one of the leading pottery companies in Germany. By the 1880s the firm was producing high‐quality bone china, floor tiles, and architectural ceramics, moving into large‐scale production of sanitary ware by the turn of the century. At this time the company rarely pioneered in design terms, although it produced quality work that embraced contemporary aesthetic trends, such as Art Nouveau. During a period of readjustment after the First World War the company devoted resources to technical development. Something of the Modernist spirit of the Bauhaus was reflected in Villeroy & Boch's products with the employment in 1932 of Hermann Gretsch, who designed the Freia service. After the Second World War the company maintained its reputation as a design‐conscious company, commissioning designers such as Luigi Colani and Paloma Picasso. She began her relationship with the company in 1987 with the development of a series of tiles, followed by tableware, cutlery, and glass. In the same year Villeroy & Boch became a public limited company. In 1989, after the purchase of the Dutch company Ucosan, Villeroy & Boch diversified into plastic baths and showertrays, expanding further into bathroom furniture after 1991 when it bought into an Austrian company, Das Bad. In 1990 Villeroy & Boch began trading on the Stock Exchange, purchasing significant shareholdings in other companies over the next decade. These included the Hungarian ceramic sanitary ware and tile manufacturer Alfoldi Porcelángyár (1992), the Romanian sanitary ware and tile manufacturer Mondial SA (1996), the Italian ceramic group Ceramica Ligure (1997), and Gustavsberg (2000).
Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design — Industrial and Commercial Art.