Hand-built work made by ceramicists who approach clay as a tool for engineering silhouettes. Not pottery at all, but architecture
The Ulmer Keramik (UK) manufacture, based in Ulm , later Neu-Ulm, began producing items such as tableware, tiles and promotional items from ceramic in 1947. The plant was closed in 1991.
The manufactory was founded by Heinz Saur (November 6, 1916 in Essen, November 9, 1962 in Neu-Ulm) and entered on June 7, 1946 in the Ulm municipal business directory. After reconstruction and expansion of Fort Prittwitz in Ulm, the production of tableware in red-brown shards was started there in early 1947. On December 19, 1947, UK was entered in the commercial register.
From 1947/1948 mainly hand-painted majolica was made. According to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, UK had 25 employees on January 13, 1948, mostly displaced persons from Silesia and Bohemia. Among them was the head of painting, Baroness Sybille von Rotkirch, who had studied art and painting in Berlin. As early as April 1948, the Municipal Trade Office had 50 to 60 employees. After the currency reform in 1948, there were first sales difficulties. After this crisis, the company went up again. In 1952 it took over the machine park of WMF Geislingen. In 1954, 200 employees were employed, 60 artists painted up to 1,500 of the approx. 130 items with different decors every day. The motifs were popular: fauna and flora, traditional costumes, landscapes around the Mediterranean, from Paris, the Orient and the Far East. Facades and interior walls of well-known breweries, restaurants and cafés were extensively decorated with hand-painted tiles. Almost everything was made for everyday use and to beautify the apartment. In 1954, the UK was one of the largest majolica factories in Germany with 15 modern kilns (electric spiral ovens). 40% of the production was exported to Europe, the USA and Canada. For the first time, a German ceramic manufacturer reached the world market suppliers Netherlands and Italy.
In 1956, the UK expanded its capacity to 17 kilns. 260 people produced 6,000 to 10,000 articles a day; the UK was the largest majolica factory in the Federal Republic. From the mid-1950s, major companies had promotional items made up to 50,000 pieces. The decoration of mass production was only possible on this scale with screen printing. The designs for this came from Ernst Konrad, who stayed at the UK from apprenticeship to retirement. Hand painting was retained for smaller quantities.
UK had to expand due to operational reasons. Since this was not possible in Ulm, construction was carried out in Neu-Ulm. The new plant was opened on July 11, 1959. After Saurs death on November 9, 1962, the authorized officer Albin Blechschmidt, the former general manager Rudolf Mezger and Hans Forstner from Neu-Ulm – a war comrade Saurs – inherited the company in equal parts. The company was converted to a limited partnership on August 30, 1963. Mezger retired in 1964 and the company’s headquarters were relocated to Neu-Ulm. In the period from 1977 to the late 1980s, sales halved. In 1985 Forstner also left the company, his son Johannes Forstner became manager. In the same year, Blechschmidt sold his share to Dr. Erich Merckle from Ulm. Together with Johannes Forstner, he took over the management. At that time there were 55 employees in the UK. Due to the cyclical decline in promotional items and imports from Asia, sales declined sharply. In 1990 the management decided to give up the business.
A clearance sale took place from March 1 to March 28, 1991. On March 31, 1991, the business ended. The majority of the operating equipment was sold to Elster-Keramik GmbH in Elsterwerda .