Sil­ver lin­ing

Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Puifor­cat, Ni­co­las Can­tenot cel­e­brates the open­ing of the brand’s de­sign destination in Dubai.


Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Puifor­cat, Ni­co­las Can­tenot cel­e­brates the open­ing of the brand’s new de­sign destination in Dubai

Not to be mis­taken with wealth, snob­bery or in­nate dis­po­si­tion, the art of dis­cern­ment is an act performed by an ed­u­cated eye. Puifor­cat— the French brand whose legacy of sil­ver­smithing since 1820 has al­ways for­gone the need to shout and pa­rade its vi­sion—has fi­nally ar­rived in Dubai, of­fer­ing an ex­quis­ite vi­sion of con­tem­po­rary beauty.

Ni­co­las Can­tenot, the com­pany’s Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, wel­comed ea­ger guests to brand’s first show­room in the Dubai Mall, which is shared with Cristal­lerie Saint-Louis.

“Both [Puifor­cat and Saint-Louis] em­body a won­der­ful as­pect of long­stand­ing know-how – crys­tal mak­ing and sil­ver­smithing; two crafts that com­ple­ment each other on the most beau­ti­ful tables. In the early 1990s, af­ter hav­ing suc­cess­fully launched the first Her­mès porce­lain col­lec­tion and ac­quired the fa­mous and his­tor­i­cal Saint-Louis crys­tal man­u­fac­ture, Her­mès had the op­por­tu­nity to ac­quire the sil­ver­smith Puifor­cat. JeanLouis Du­mas – at the head of the com­pany at that time – went ahead with this ac­qui­si­tion to ‘em­bel­lish the Her­mès gar­den with ex­cep­tional cre­ative tal­ents and know-how’ and cre­ate a unique of­fer in table­ware,” he ex­plains.

“The open­ing of our new store at The Dubai Mall has been an im­por­tant project for our whole team. We were miss­ing a pres­ence in the re­gion de­spite the ob­vi­ous po­ten­tial. The stylish life­style of the peo­ple of Dubai and the way they like to sur­round them­selves with beau­ti­ful things echo our mo­tives as a brand. With the com­bined pres­ence of Her­mès table­ware and Saint-Louis, we stand out with an ex­cep­tional of­fer in table­ware and dec­o­ra­tion,” he con­tin­ues.

Can­tenot has a rep­u­ta­tion and his­tory as di­verse as the brands to whom he has de­voted his life, which in­clude LVMH, Par­fums Chris­tian Dior in South Ko­rea, Guer­lain in the French mar­ket, CWF (Chil­dren World­wide Fash­ion - a lead­ing French com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in high-end chil­dren’s brands) and Her­mès, which has owned Puifor­cat since 1993.

“I al­ways be­lieved in mo­ti­va­tional philoso­phies and thrived to lead my team to en­dorse per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for their work and work to­ward the over­all suc­cess of their com­pany. Col­lab­o­rat­ing with cre­ative per­son­al­i­ties over the years nat­u­rally al­lowed me to im­ple­ment it,” says Can­tenot.

Straight­for­ward and sin­cere, Can­tenot looks to­wards his ex­pe­ri­ence in the navy as one of three im­por­tant ca­reer mile­stones. “My man­age­ment style was also very much in­flu­enced by my own ex­pe­ri­ence on the sea, when par­tic­i­pat­ing in re­gat­tas on the Margilic, a clas­sic wooden sail boat that I own with a group of other avid sailors. The two years I spent in the French navy, serv­ing as an of­fi­cer of the watch on board a ship in the In­dian Ocean at the age of 22, re­ally taught me what it means to be part of a team, and started to shape my man­age­rial per­son­al­ity.”

His role at Her­mès is what he con­sid­ers to be his sec­ond most im­por­tant pro­fes­sional mo­ment. “I be­came part of the team that started the Her­mès home and fur­ni­ture di­vi­sion, par­tic­i­pat­ing in turn­ing what was ini­tially a small de­part­ment ded­i­cated to table­ware and art de vivre into a com­plete world for the home, char­ac­terised by time­less el­e­gance, and ex­pressed through beau­ti­ful home de­part­ments in about 40 of its flag­ship stores in all ma­jor world cities. This was a big learn­ing curve and an op­por­tu­nity to grow my ex­per­tise in sales,” he ex­plains.

The third mile­stone is, unsurprisingly, his cur­rent role of Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor. Since 2016, when he ac­cepted the po­si­tion, he has con­stantly looked to the past to move for­ward, a task that re­quires both pa­tience and a vi­sion that’s al­ways ex­pand­ing—some­thing he finds in­spi­ra­tion for in the brand’s found­ing fa­ther.

“Jean Puifor­cat was a true vi­sion­ary of his time, who re-in­vented the art of sil­ver­smithing by an­chor­ing it into moder­nity. He was part of, and strongly in­flu­enced, the Art Deco move­ment by his cre­ations. Far be­fore all of to­day’s well-known the­o­ries on de­sign, he would ad­vo­cate that the form of an ob­ject should be at the ser­vice of its func­tion,” he re­flects.


To­day, some of Jean Puifor­cat’s most out­stand­ing cre­ations con­tinue to be rein­vented, while the de­sign­ers that the brand col­lab­o­rates with on new col­lec­tions of­ten dig into his archives dur­ing their cre­ative pro­cesses.

To that end, Can­tenot isn’t afraid to speak his mind about his def­i­ni­tion of lux­ury. “I quite agree with the def­i­ni­tion in the Ox­ford Dic­tionary: Lux­ury is a state of great com­fort or el­e­gance, es­pe­cially when in­volv­ing great ex­pense!” he ex­claims.

“I think our col­lec­tions fit into that def­i­ni­tion, of­fer­ing a fresh blend of re­fine­ment and use, tra­di­tion and the au­dac­ity of de­sign. The fact that they are ob­tained thanks to the sup­port of our crafts­men’s out­stand­ing know-how, and by al­ways us­ing the high­est qual­ity of ma­te­rial, re­flects in the po­si­tion­ing of the brand. But this com­mit­ment to pre­serve our work­shop’s long stand­ing know-how, and the de­ci­sion to only work with Euro­pean sup­pli­ers who have the ut­most ex­per­tise in metal work, is part of who we are as a brand.”

This legacy and on­go­ing, un­wa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion to hon­our­ing and sup­port­ing the work of crafts­man makes the brand spe­cial.

“Sil­ver is a very spe­cial mat­ter: it is both very mas­cu­line and, at the same time, very soft and shiny. The re­flec­tion of light on sil­ver is ab­so­lutely unique and gives a pre­cious and mag­i­cal side to it, al­most sacred,” he muses.

“When the sil­ver­smith is work­ing on a piece of sil­ver and giv­ing life to new ob­jects, he is al­most like a ma­gi­cian or an al­chemist. To work on the mat­ter, he will use cen­tury-old tools (or some­times he will even make his own tools for a par­tic­u­lar ob­ject!). The ham­mer, the forge, the lathe... all these are ex­actly the same tools used a hun­dred years ago, com­bined with some of the lat­est in­no­va­tive pro­cesses when needed.”

When asked about which three pieces truly rep­re­sent the brand, Can­tenot em­braces the dif­fi­cult task with fi­nesse.

“I would start with one of our sig­na­ture cut­lery col­lec­tions, Cannes. Cre­ated by Jean Puifor­cat in 1928, the de­sign of this ster­ling sil­ver col­lec­tion is the epit­ome of min­i­mal­ism - the five rings at the top of its fluted han­dle are the sole or­na­ment. A time­less de­sign, Cannes is the bench­mark for con­nois­seurs. The founder chose this col­lec­tion for his own wed­ding. We just launched a made-to-mea­sure ver­sion where the han­dles can be adorned with semi-pre­cious stones – onyx, mala­chite, jade or jasper - at the cross­roads of ab­so­lute pu­rity and ex­treme so­phis­ti­ca­tion.”

The sec­ond: “Or­fèvre-Som­me­lier, our re­cently-launched col­lec­tion ded­i­cated to wine tast­ing, caters to a ma­jor el­e­ment of the French art de vivre. To ap­proach this seg­ment, we chose to adopt a bold and in­no­va­tive path that breaks with the tra­di­tional codes in this do­main – since we got rid of the glass’s stem. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with En­rico Bernardo, the world’s best som­me­lier in 2004, and de­signer Michael Anas­tas­si­adès we cre­ated a col­lec­tion of ex­pert items which will ap­peal both to wine ex­perts and aes­thetes.”

Thirdly, Ar­gent Gour­mand. “French de­signer Pa­trick Jouin, who had al­ready de­signed our stain­less flat­ware col­lec­tion Zer­matt, ap­plied his pas­sion for strong, sharp lines to imag­ine a cake dome of com­pelling geo­met­ric curves,” he ex­plains. “It was a true tech­ni­cal chal­lenge for our pro­duc­tion team but a con­struc­tive al­liance to el­e­gantly up­end tast­ing rit­u­als.”

Ar­gent Gour­mand mac­aron box by Pa­trick Jouin

Cannes Pré­cieux Onyx col­lec­tion

Cannes Pre­cieux mus­tard pot

Nor­mandie wa­ter pitcher

Ar­gent Gour­mand ice cream cup by Pa­trick Jouin

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