words by Ivania
Last weekend we travelled to Paris, invited to visit the silversmith workshop of Puiforcat.
A small factory building in the outskirts of Paris; typical zigzag shaped high roofs letting natural light into the workspace and on all the silverware works in progress.
Industrial places like these are so incredibly inspiring. (So funny that Romeo has the exact same chains with wires suspended from his studio ceilings)
Walking around on the workfloor, talking to the artisans and witnessing the effort and know-how that goes into these products gave me new levels of appreciation for silver. It is not uncommon that 50 hours of work will go into one single silver tray – which is close to perfection when finished. Eric for example, one of the artisans, works with over 300 differently shaped hammers to slowly and in a super controlled way hit the silver into shape. We asked him what happened if he makes a mistake – to which he confidently shook his head ‘that never happens, but if it does the tray would have to be melted and we’d have to start again from scratch’.
The house of Puiforcat was founded almost 200 years ago by Emile Puiforcat, passing on the craft of silversmithing from father to son. Four generations later in 1920, Jean Puiforcat acquired this title from his father and was to write the most beautiful pages of the company’s history. Jean was immersed in the modern artistic wave of the time and was one of the founders of the Union des artistes modernes in 1929. He hung out with artists and designers like René Herbst, le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Chareau. Jean was the first to apply Art Deco to silverware. I can only imagine what an exciting environment this must have been.
Being a big Art Deco admirer, the most special part of the tour was getting access to the archives of te house where all the drawings, sketches, ideas, graphic designs by Jean Puiforcat where stored. The modernity of his ideas was mind-blowing. We even found a wonderful design he made of R-I initials (Romeo-Ivania), such a strange experience to hold a 90 year old drawing in my hand. Besides a silversmith, monsieur Puiforcat was a designer, painter, artist: a true visionary.