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SoChic Stories

Once upon a time, Christofle, a jewel of tableware

Once upon a time, Christofle, a jewel of tableware

Official supplier to the French State since King Louis-Philippe (1753-1850), the Christofle house has skilfully weathered the vicissitudes of history. Soon to be bicentenary, the brand continues to represent French chic on all continents.

A true French success story, the brand prospered thanks to the visionary spirit of its founder Charles Christofle (1805-1863), a jeweler by training. Very keen on innovation, the craftsman-entrepreneur changed the destiny of the company by buying in 1842 the patents for silvering and gilding by electrolysis from the Frenchman Henri de Ruolz, sensing that this investment would soon be worth its weight in gold. Eager to manufacture pieces in silver metal on an industrial scale and to invite himself into the most beautiful interiors, the 30-year-old has dreams of grandeur.

This pragmatist understands that there is a market in tableware, especially in metal cutlery that oxidized and became dangerous. The creation of his silverware therefore responded to an ambition, but also to a need. In the country of Vatel and royal feasts where eating is religion, Charles Christofle invites to the table candelabra, carafes, sauce boats, towel racks, candlesticks… which he makes like boxes, thus combining his two passions: jewelry and silverware . His brilliance will certainly be his achievements at the Universal Exhibition in London (1862). Its collections were described as “masterpieces” by the international press of the time.

Crowned with several medals and trophies, the child prodigy becomes the pride of a nation. Emperor Napoleon III then elevated Charles Christofle to the rank of officer of the Legion of Honor. A double recognition that earned him a passport for exceptional collaborations commensurate with his talent. Among his works, the order from the Opéra Garnier (1866) for which the Christofle workshop produced the statues ‘The allegories of Poetry and Harmony’, designed by Gumery, or the statue of the Holy Virgin of Our Lady of la Garde which overlooks the city of Marseille.

During this extraordinary work, the house invented monumental electroplating, a technique that allows a metallic object to be gilded or silvered by the action of an electric current. This process can also be used to reproduce an object by molding. From one century to the next, the Christofle goldsmith will continue to take the train of modernity by equipping the most prestigious means of transport from the Orient Express to the Transatlantic Cunard Queen Mary, via the Concorde.

Avant-garde , the brand does not hesitate to build bridges towards icons such as Jean Cocteau, Karl Lagerfeld or Pharell Williams, through well-inspired partnerships. At the time of the Universal Expo in Dubai, the label shines with a thousand lights in the French pavilion, which is quite proud to display “its crown jewels”.

The 10 commandments of a Christofle table:

1/ A French dressage

2/ A setup for right-handers

3/ An assortment of 3 place settings maximum (vs 6 to 8 for the British school)

4/ Use from the outside to the inside

5/ Placement of the cutlery with points down, rounded back at the top (hallmarks on the inside to mark the taste for discreet luxury vs points up for the British)

6/ A porcelain whose size must be adapted to the size of the cutlery

7/ A decoration studied to create an atmosphere around the senses: flowers, candelabra, table linen in harmony

8/ A table dressed with presentation plates so as to never leave an empty place between two dishes

9/ Decorum punctuated with napkin rings, knife holders…

10/ An arrangement of crystal glasses starting from the left, from the biggest to the smallest (so as not to hinder right-handed people in the movements)

French Shopping, Dining & Lifestyle guide in Singapore