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Heritage

The Gien Faïencerie is first established in 1821 in Gien in the Loire Valley, at the heart of France. Its history goes back two hundred years. Its founder is Thomas Hall, an Englishman eager to promote and expand fine English faïence in France.

Before Gien was founded, Thomas Hall was involved with the Montereau faïencerie. He handed over his interest in the company, to go on to a project to revive the Pont aux Choux faïencerie in Paris. At the time it is the only faïencerie in the Paris area. It produces sophisticated pieces of faïence with a close resemblance to silverware, inspired by English know-how.

He finally settles on the choosing to locate in Gien which had all the assets necessary to make faïence : sand and water from the royal river to make clay paste, and wood from the nearby Sologne forest to stoke the kilns. In addition, the Loire river was the main means of transporting goods, up until the mid 19th century.

Gien’s history can be divided into 6 major periods, up until the 2014 takeover :

First steps (1821 – 1850)

Golden Age (1850 – 1914)

Interlude (1918 – 1984)

Revival or Pierre Jeufroy era (1984 – 2003)

Continuation (2003 – 2014)

The rebound (2014 - …)

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First steps

1821 – 1850

Products were designed to suit the tastes and culture of the times : pure white Faïence on an elaborate form inspired by silverware, or with a pattern in shades of one single color (black, sepia..) based on romantic topics or antiquity themes (scenes from Atala by Chateaubriand, for example), the first theme collections

The factory had a rough ride in the beginning due to both financial difficulties and quality drawbacks in production - the making process requires considerable fine-tuning.

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Golden age

1850 – 1914

By the 1840s, the Faïencerie de Gien has mastered making techniques and is turning out fine quality products which are constantly being perfected with new developments.

These improvements are acknowledged by the industry with a string of awards presented at various different exhibitions, not only in France but also further afield (United States, Australia). The track record is particularly impressive in Paris at a number of successive Universal Exhibitions.

In creative terms, just as in the beginning, Gien follows the trends and tastes of the time. During the second French Empire period, Gien is in pursuit of excellence and produces a wide-ranging style of products, drawing inspiration from different fashions that marked the history of faïence, and sometimes porcelain, over previous centuries : Italian faïence, Rouen, Marseille, Far East designs, etc.

This line of approach only follows suit with current trends in decorative arts. Similarly these trends can be seen in cabinet making (Napoléon III/Louis XIV styles (Boulle), Louis XV, Loui XVI, néo-medieval, etc.), or in the field of architecture (Viollet-Le-Duc).

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The Interlude

1918 – 1984

  1. After the First World War

After the Great War Gien focusses on growth of its activity with a mainly industrial logic. Two decades pass during which the factory is modernised and “tunnel” kilns, with a 5-day firing cycle, are installed.



  1. After the Second World War

Post second world war Gien in a paradoxical situation : the surge  – this is undoubtedly the case but was also coupled with a lack of daring – in creativity and marketing - is not sufficently powerful to compensate for having over diversified and lost in competitiveness. The company files for bankruptcy in 1984.

At this time, on the impetus of  Jean Bertholle followed by Pierre Maitre –  Gien’s creations draw inspiration from it’s heritage  in an approach concentrating on re-issuing or reinterpreting patterns (often with great success - take Pont-Aux-Choux for example or the new themed collections). At the same time new territory is also being explored, consistent with the Brand, such as the hunting theme creation with the ”Rambouillet” dinner service purchased by Vincent Auriol for the château of the same name, or “romantic” exotism, with the “Caraïbes” pattern.

 

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Revival or Pierre Jeufroy era

1984 – 2014

After taking over the Faïencerie in 1984, Pierre Jeufroyimplements a radical restructuring plan and sets his sights on the high end of the market.

While continuing to draw inspiration from the brand’s DNA, he starts the Museum in 1985 and calls upon prominent artists and designers to breathe new life into the company and boost brand awareness and image. This is how artists such as   Garouste et Bonetti, Paco Rabanne, Jean-Michel Willemotte ou Jean Cortot came to work  with the Faïencerie

 

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The rebound

Since 2014

May 2014 marks the takeover of the Faïencerie de Gien by Yves de Talhouët and Pascal d’Halluin.

Two men, driven by a keen interest in the Faïencerie and convinced of the outstanding quality of its products and international renown, decide both to keep to tradition and to explore new avenues, spotlighting contemporary talent and implementing new distribution guidelines in export.

Now, 200 years since the Company was founded, the Faïencerie de Gien is a jewel in the crown of decorative arts, recognised the world over, and a member of the prestigious Colbert Committee, a group bringing together the major names in Luxury and French Art de Vivre.

The Collections … an array of stunning colors and shapes, with 50 different patterns and over 3000 item references, ranging from plates to unique hand-painted pieces. Patterns and shapes are created both from archive material and by promiment contemporary artists. Gien collections bring elegance to your table and are the ultimate gift. Gien, for many a happy moment spent together.

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  1. Heritage
  2. First steps
  3. Golden age
  4. The Interlude
  5. Revival or Pierre Jeufroy era
  6. The rebound