Family Traditions

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“A Grand Adventure” is the latest piece from the Lladro collection.

When Juan, Jos?? and Vicente Lladr?? founded their small family-owned company in 1953, they had no idea the effect their unique porcelain sculptures would have on people the world over. ??I don??t think they envisioned the Lladr?? company when they were founding it,??
says Juan Vicente Lladr??, creative director for Lladr?? and son of Vicente. They were simply looking for a way to express their creativity. In doing so, the Lladr?? brothers firmly established themselves with art lovers around the globe.

Raised in Valencia, Spain, the Lladr?? family originally worked the land. The Lladr?? brothers?? interest in art came by working at a local tile and crockery factory to help support the family. Juan and Jos?? worked as painters, while Vicente worked as a sculptor. However, their artistic needs were still not fulfilled so they enrolled in the Schools of Arts and Trades to study drawing, painting and decorative composition in the afternoons.

The first generation of Lladros, (l-r) Jose, Vincente and Juan, started the family company 50 years ago.

??They, my father and two uncles, went to arts and crafts school in Valencia [after work],?? Juan Vicente says. ??They met other art people there and they had their own [goals], but the management of the company would not support them.?? Therefore, the Lladr?? brothers set out to build a company where they could explore their creativity. ??They just had this motto of improving every day,?? he says. In the beginning, the brothers made small useful objects such as ashtrays, jugs, vases and flowers, and they tried to sell them to earn some money.

Eventually, things improved financially, and the brothers were able to focus solely on artistic creations. Even so, the Lladr?? brand was not established overnight. ??I would say [it took] 10 years,?? Juan Vicente says. Eventually, importers began seeing their art at trade shows in Europeand began selling it in other countries.

Approximately 30 years after the company??s inception, the Lladr?? brothers truly became aware of their mark in the artistic world. ??In ??84, when we realized that we had very many collectors around the world, we were very happy,?? Juan Vicente says. That feeling is something that he says the company still strives for today. ??It was not until I started doing signing events that I met the customers, and I saw how happy they are with the [pieces], so that really gave meaning to my job,?? he says. ??I really think it??s difficult to find a product that makes people so [full of] joy.??

It??s amazing that Juan Vicente is so passionate about his job, especially considering he never planned to be in the company business. ??I studied architecture,?? he says, ??but somehow I got the feeling that I was going to be in the company. I realized that I was not going to be an architect. There are about 2,000 people working there, so I felt I had to keep it moving.??

In 1984, Juan Vicente and two of his cousins, Rosa and Mamen??the children of each of the brothers??were invited to attend company business meetings and soon joined the Board of Management of the company. Juan Vicente??s younger brother, David, has since joined the company as well.

The Lladr?? brothers?? children all strive to carry on their fathers?? work while acknowledging and accepting the effects of an ever-changing world. ??The essence remains the same, but it has become more sophisticated in management, and we have improved not only the quality of the pieces but especially the presentation in the market,?? Juan Vicente says.

And while there may be more improvements in the future, don??t expect to see dramatic changes in the Lladr?? brand. ??I would like to have the company live for many more years,?? Juan Vicente says. ??And I would like us to extend the product line to other styles, maybe more contemporary, but without losing the essence of who we are and what we are. We??re not a trendy company; we are more timeless. People enjoy our products because they attach to them. It??s very intimate; it??s a very personal thing.??

Collectors certainly agree. ??It??s so graceful and elegant, yet very simple,?? says Julia Jones of Decatur, who attended an October signing at Northpoint Mall to buy a piece and have it signed for her mother. Joan Hollister of Lavonia drove the hour-and-a-half trip to buy a piece for her daughter-in-law and herself. ??Like [Julia] said, they??re elegant,?? Hollister says. ??They??re different.??

Juan Vicente says he enjoys seeing the consumers?? response to the pieces. He believes that is what completes the piece, not just the final firing by the artist. ??The last firing is the end customer,?? he says. ??Only when the customer relates to the piece in a very intimate way, then it becomes an expression [for them].??


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