Q& A WITH MICHEL BERNARDAUD, CHAIRMAN & CEO OF BERNARDAUD
Tell us more about Bernardaud’s legacy in porcelain-making.
Bernardaud was established in 1863 and is still a family business today – I am the fifth generation. I feel very fortunate as I have been able to build on both the legacy of my predecessors and the two-pronged approach that is the company signature: Drawing from the traditions of a heritage craft, we seek to innovate and march to the beat of our own drum. Today, Bernardaud has grown into a major player in the French luxury and international decorative arts scene.
What are the greatest challenges of porcelain-making?
Our greatest challenges are innovation (see the latest Balloon Animals made in collaboration with artist Jeff Koons – we wouldn’t have been able to produce that 10 years ago), and entering new markets (ballistics, cosmetics, architecture). Porcelain, as a material, has so much to offer. It has never been as beautiful and strong as it is today. However, it is quite difficult to produce as it shrinks during firing, and undergoes many deformations we have to master. We spend a lot of time and energy pushing technical boundaries to meet 21st-century challenges. All the ingredients are getting better because all the technologies are also evolving.
Who are the different artists and designers you’ve worked with over the years, and how do they bring a new perspective to porcelain-making?
Bernardaud has always worked with artists and designers. It is completely part of our DNA, and we are very keen on these collaborations because they inspire us to go beyond our comfort zones and bring porcelain to unknown areas. We have collaborated with Jeff Koons, filmmaker David Lynch, performance artist Marina Abramovic, writer Sophie Calle, photographer JR, and so many more.