The origins of the Sargadelos Foundation—it truly is much more than a mere company—are just about as different from its modern embodiment as one could imagine. It has gone from forging cannons, ammunition and other metal material of war as the French Revolution dawned on European horizons, to elaborating some of the finest and most unique porcelain items that the world has ever seen. Established in 1788 on Spain’s northwestern coast, the Sargadelos factories and enterprise were the creation of Antonio Ibañez, a born visionary and patriot who effectively harnessed the advantages that northern Galicia offered: Namely exceptional forests, plentiful quantities of both iron ore and high-quality kaolin clay (later determined to be some of the world’s finest), rivers to power hydraulic machines, and several nearby ports enabling products to be shipped easily to any destination. The Sargadelos ceramics factory began by producing the “Bristol-type” porcelain then in such popular demand. This factory pioneered the art of mechanical decoration, making the finishing process far more efficient and uniform than it had been previously. Backed by state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques and corporate organization, Sargadelos quickly became a brand known and revered all over Europe.
But above and beyond being a plain business, Sargadelos has always strived to render maximum public service to Galicia, and to Spain as a whole, by being a living, breathing guardian and champion of Galician history and culture. Sargadelos’ modern era began in the aftermath of the civil war which ravaged the country from 1936-1939. So much and so many were lost during the Spanish Civil War that there was a burning desire to recover, not just physically but culturally as well. Thus, it was decided to reestablish Sargadelos as an institution which would ensure the preservation of Galicia’s customs and traditions via artistic expression through ceramics. In this spirit, Sargadelos began crafting 3-dimensional figures based on the art of select painters. The Foundation grew swiftly during the middle of the 20th century, for its high-quality, totally original products found great acceptance in a market which had become somewhat sterile and stagnant. As its popularity ascended, many exiled Galician artists and intellectuals began offering Sargadelos their input from abroad, for they too were keen to participate in the historical and cultural revival of their homeland, and their ideas and creations contributed invaluably to Sargadelos’ success and originality.
Today, Sargadelos continues its proud tradition of elaborating porcelain items to the highest standard of excellence, while never failing to incorporate the virtues of the past, present and future into its cultural, historical and social motifs. The two factories which manufacture Sargadelos products also serve as museums, artists’ colonies, and convention centers. They feature galleries, libraries, meeting halls, a publishing wing, and even some spare bedrooms for visitors, all in the name of perpetuating Galicia’s enchanting heritage. Sargadelos ceramics not only do justice to both history and fashion in the aesthetic sense, they also have true meaning, for each piece has a story and/or a theme behind it. From charming tea sets paying homage to the immense Celtic influence on the origins of Galicia’s rich culture, to little amulets that mysteriously bend the intricacies of superstition to their bearer’s benefit, to dinnerware sets shaped and decorated in honor of the Roman Empire’s contribution to Spain’s development over 2000 years ago, every Sargadelos article is born of a profound respect for, pride in and love of that special, magical place known to the world as Galicia.