If you happen to be in New York City on Monday evening, November 15, make haste to the Bernardaud Boutique at 499 Park Avenue between 6 and 8 p.m. to meet famed contemporary artist Jeff Koons, who will unveil his “Balloon Dog (Blue),” which is being released in porcelain in a limited edition of 799. RSVP details are at the end of this post.
Michel Bernardaud, the CEO of the company and one of the members of the fifth-generation to run the 150-year-old porcelain brand that is based in Limoges, will also be in attendance during the fête. Our editor Saxon Henry visited the Bernardaud factory in France several years ago, and it was one of the most exciting experiences of her journalistic career.
As Mr. Bernardaud notes, “Porcelain has been used for millennia, but it still detains properties and applications whose potential has never been fully explored. In this quest I have been fortunate; I have been able to build on the legacy of my predecessors and on the two-pronged approach that is the signature of our house: drawing from the traditions of a heritage craft, we seek to innovate and march to the beat of our own drum.”
This is one of the aspects of this brand’s point of view that fascinates us the most: to have a product catalog that spans from tableware produced for the kings, queens, and emperors of France to lauded mid-century designer Raymond Loewy to a contemporary artist of Jeff Koons’s stature is remarkable. If you are a fan of history, pop over to this post on Saxon’s blog, which features the Rambouillet service in Bernardaud’s catalog. She also tells the story about how these pieces came to be when Louis XVI had them made for Marie Antoinette.
The number of luxury hospitality venues with the company’s tableware gracing their tables is also impressive. Bernardaud produces patterns for The Gritti Palace in Venice, Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris, Claridge’s Hotel in London, Daniel and Jean-Gorges in New York, and the Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires.
While she was touring the factory, Saxon produced a number of casual videos that are embedded below. They tell the story of porcelain pieces being born—from their raw states to being painted and receiving other forms of decoration. It was a fascinating process to be able to witness, as you can see for yourself.
Also while in Paris, she visited the boutique on Rue Royale. As fate would have it, the company had just unveiled the “Balloon Dog (Yellow)” pictured below.
Craftspeople at Bernardaud glazing pieces of the company’s fine porcelain.
The delicate process of polishing and gilding porcelain at Bernardaud.
Illustrating the translucency of Bernardaud porcelain in the manufacturer’s factory.
The challenging process of painting porcelain at Bernardaud, a highly developed skill that is hard-won during years and years of experience.
The painstaking process of decorating porcelain at Bernardaud, the application of gold leaf a delicate matter.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of several aspects of fine porcelain production. Considering the process above, we’re betting creating Jeff Koons’s balloon animals is a challenge, indeed! To RSVP for the New York event, call 212-371-4300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to note that all guests are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated to attend.