THE EVOLUTION OF CHRISTOFLE
Luxury silversmith Christofle is world-renowned for its Haute Orfèvrerie, or what the French brand refer to as ‘haute couture for silver’, but it is perhaps less well-known that founder Charles Christofle started as a jeweller in 1830. Today, his team of master elite craftsmen in Yainville, Normandy, are now known for their astounding range of tableware, sculpture, crystal and porcelain ware and of course, jewellery. In silver.
The company only switched trajectories when Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte ordered an entire table service in 1852, seating a hundred guests at the Tuileries Palace. The set, which comprised of 15 magnificent pieces, including one over 11 feet (almost four metres) long, cemented the prestige of the brand. Christofle soon started supplying silverware to foreign empires, including Emperor Maximilian of Mexico and Sultan Abdul Aziz of Turkey. Soon, the list of clients grew to include luxury hotels like the Ritz in Paris and the Raffles in Singapore, as well as the Orient Express and all Alain Ducasse restaurants worldwide, among others.
With a skilled team of artisans in its employ including a planisher who was honoured the “Best Craftsman in France", Christofle’s impeccable craftsmanship and quality of the silver is without par. The 186-year-old company is tirelessly committed to its founder’s motto: “Only one quality, the very best". In their pursuit, the brand continues to evolve, incorporating porcelain in its offerings in 1988, crystal in 1996 and, coming full circle, jewellery in 2005 with collaborations with designers such as Andrée Putman. Though it might be seen as a traditionalist label, Christofle does not shy away from the avant-garde, choosing to work with young designers like Ora-ïto, whose Arborescence collection is abstract and minimal.
Having worked with icons such as famed American visual artist Man Ray and French writer and playwright Jean Cocteau, the fine silverware makers are no strangers to artist collaborations. Still, a significant milestone was made in 2011 when artist Xiao Hui Wang became the first Chinese invited to work with Christofle. First created for the occasion of the Shanghai Expo, the limited edition “Love“ sculpture stands at the flagship boutique at Hilton Singapore, a symbol of how the masters of silver have transcended the “Art of the Table" to the “Art of Living".