For over 50 years, within a few modest rooms in the 18th century silk mill at Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds, a small team of people has created 3,418 individual new products, leading to sales of over 46 million items around the world.
This is how it came about.
In 1955, fresh from the Royal College of Art, Robert Welch was looking to set up a studio somewhere between his parents’ home in Malvern and London, where he might find work. He rented a small room in the Old Silk Mill in Chipping Campden and installed his drawing board and a truckle bed.
It was an inauspicious start for a man whose strong design principles would later make him an MBE and a Royal Designer for Industry.
Being an enthusiastic cricketer, Robert Welch believed in the close working efficiency of small teams.
He called upon the complementary skills of designers, prototype makers and manufacturers to help realise Robert Welch designs.
Most notably, John Limbrey (top left) worked closely with Robert Welch for over 40 years until Robert’s death in 2000, and Robert’s son Rupert and daughter Alice have been responsible for the company’s direction since 1993.
Each new Robert Welch product is evolved from rigorous questioning about its function, manufacture, durability and ease of use.
One of the simplest ways to understand what people want from a new product is to meet them.
For this reason, since 1969 Robert Welch has had a shop in Chipping Campden, only a hundred yards or so from the Old Silk Mill where the products are created by the Robert Welch designers.
The Robert Welch range of products is remarkably extensive.
Even more remarkable is the fact that, unlike other design companies, none of the products are bought in or created by outside designers.
Every item, large or small, has been created by the Robert Welch Design Team in Chipping Campden in the same building where Robert Welch started all those years ago.