Design

Christofle: visit of the manufacturing workshops

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The table jewels of Christofle

Nathalie Baetens

In 2010, with the collection of cutlery "Garden of Eden" designed by the fantastic Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, the house Christofle broke with the tradition of the purity. The brand has opened the doors of its factory in Yainville, Haute-Normandie, to make us discover the secrets of making this service with incredible Baroque motifs.

Producing such elaborate cutlery in series was a real challenge, which Christofle took up with flying colors. His 185 years of experience are certainly not for nothing in this feat.

History of the Christofle house

It is in 1830 that the jeweler Charles Christofle founds the company. A man of avant-garde, he bought as early as 1842 patents for silvering and gilding by electrolysis. The company then starts manufacturing silver metal parts on an industrial scale. Parallel to this production of small goldsmiths in series, whose cutlery will be the spearhead, the activities of high goldsmithery are perpetuated.

In 1971, Christofle leaves his workshops of Saint-Denis for Yainville. In this new factory, the work is mechanized, but the know-how and the hand of the man keep all their importance. Indeed, the finesse of the "Garden of Eden" collection could not be achieved without the intervention of engravers. And on the machines, it is thanks to the precision of the gestures of the workers and the workers that the motives are positioned exactly where they are needed. Not to mention the finishes that are made by hand on each piece.

Faced with the success of these cutlery, become in five years of bestseller, Christofle declines the motive of Marcel Wanders on many pieces of high goldsmith - centerpieces, clocks, candelabra - and even on a chair. christofle.com

Nathalie Baetens

Fineness and precision for Christofle cutlery

The elaboration of the matrices. A crucial step ... since it is the delicacy of the work on the matrices - two negative half-forms of the canopy - that the final result depends. The drawings developed by the design office of Christofle in partnership with the designer make it possible to obtain an electrode (the sketch of a matrix). The pattern is then refined and finished by hand by an engraver. From these copper electrodes are born, by electroerosion, the steel dies that will be placed on presses.

Nathalie Baetens

Punching. The cutlery is shaped using a 600 kg press. A first stamping allows to position the volumes in the right place, a second to embed the decor.

Nathalie Baetens

Preparatory drawings. The development of the motif took no less than a year to go back and forth between the design officeChristofle and Marcel Wanders. Especially because the back of the spoon had to be quite smooth to not feel in the mouth.

Nathalie Baetens

Tools. Chisels, chiselling hammers, engravers, tracers, stalls, riffers ... the engravers' workbenches are full of tools to refine the patterns obtained by electroerosion on the dies.

Nathalie Baetens

Shaping spoons. The metal arrives at the factory in the form of rolls. The first step is to sketch the shape of the future covered to obtain "blanks". The latter are then rolled (flattened, stretched), then pass in different presses that will, thanks to the dies, to position the volumes in the right places and to embed the grounds. All these stages are mechanized but require the intervention of the human hand.

Nathalie Baetens

Nathalie Baetens

Trimming. Once formed and decorated, each canopy goes through the trimming workshop. The workers mill each piece on Emery canvas in order to perfect the outlines. They are then polished, degreased and cleaned. An employee checks the finish on each piece. Finally, the punch is applied.

Nathalie Baetens

Nathalie Baetens

Silvering. Cutlery is silvered in electrolytic baths where silver shot is dissolved. This operation is automated for all parts that have surfaces without retention, but for small batches and some parts such as coffee makers, the operation is manual.

Nathalie Baetens

Nathalie Baetens

Partial gilding. The line "Garden of Eden" can be declined in golden finish. The silver metal parts are soaked in a red varnish, which is removed on the elements of the decor that is desired gilded. The cutlery is then placed in an electrolytic bath so that gold is deposited on the exposed parts.

Nathalie Baetens

Nathalie Baetens

Nathalie Baetens

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