Design & Decoration S01 ep1: Michel Lombard, Puiforcat Silver, [Paris]
Interview with Michel Lombard
France's oldest silver tableware and holloware producers [now owned by Hermes] produces the most exquisite silver cutlery in the world - still by hand. " To desire, you have to be seduced. Seduction is a blend, a mixture of different things - historical background, quality, it's alchemy as we say in French - it's not something rational."
Let’s speak about seduction, and luxury is seduction. Not beauty, not art, not
The Puiforcat family was a silversmith created in the 1820. The beginning of
cutlery at the King’s table in France was Louis the thirteenth, which means
1620 or something like that. After the revolution, the French revolution and
Napoleon, the bourgeois started to use flatware and during the 19th century
Puiforcat was a became a specialist in flatware, but only reproducing shapes
and creations of the two preceding centuries.
I felt in the luxury soup 30 years ago. I was first with Dupont, S T Dupont, after
that I was for the first time with Hermes for 3 years, after that I was Managing
Director of Cerruti fashion business, after that I was in mergers and
acquisition business, and I went back within the Hermes group 6 years ago.
KM: Inside you, what is art?
Art is invention. In science I think it is art. When Einstein invented the theory of
relativity it was maybe from his heart and not from his head.
The main glory of Puiforcat was Jean Puiforcat. Jean Puiforcat was 1920 to
1945, the so-called Art Deco – he was not Leonardo Da Vinci but he was really
what I call an inventor, a creator. He died in ‘45. He gave to the Puiforcat
name and company, which was a small, good, solid company, their
After his father died 5 years after, the company was acquired by different
investors, which meant different managers, and all these people have milked
the name of the company with absolutely no creation.
Up to the time when Hermes, Jean Louis took over.
KM: Which was when?
Er ‘95. Puiforcat was living on the past, okay. We are selling to you 17th, 18th,
19th century products, and Jean Puiforcat. And the problem was, our
awareness was limited to people of more than 60 years old and with that you
die. You die with your customers.
And I when I went back into the picture, I told the board of committee, I think
we have to transform our shops in museums.
KM: (laughing) They must have loved you.
At least we will gain some money with the visitors. And the problem was
broom, tons of dust.
And creation, creation, creation and all our business since with my team, since
4-5 years has been to build the first breath of Puiforcat. The first was 19th
century, the second one, very glorious, was Jean Puiforcat and now it is the
We have launched 4 years ago the first flatware of Puiforcat in steel. Which
was for Puiforcat completely obscene. It was a new design. We have
manufactured it exactly as our solid silver flatware. We were and we are four
times more expensive than the others, not to be foolish but because our die
cost is quite high and it is a success.
You have to sell pleasure today, not social status, you have to seduce once
again. Not because you are Mr. Puiforcat, Mr. Laroche Fouquet, your are. No,
today it is over. You have to seduce, you have to build yourself your new
personal seduction, and it is very difficult to create a new glamour, if I can say,
without forgetting your history, your past, your inheritance.
You have to respect the creator of your company, but you have also to kill him,
as a son has to kill his father.
Because. If you are always relying upon the glory of your father or your
grandfather and so and so, today you die, you don’t exist. People don’t care
about that. In other words you have to redo the job.
Somebody told me one day "This is funny because it is Jean Puiforcat but
completely revisited revisited" and I like this expression because it is true. You
look like your father or your grandfather but you are another guy.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Michel Lombard, Puiorcat Silver, Paris