Michel Bernardaud

A Family Tradition of Excellence and Creativity

michel-bernardaudWhen Pierre Bernardaud invited his son Michel to join the company in 1979, and with his son’s ascension as chairman in 1994, Michel became the fifth generation of the family to head the company. He continues to honor the savoir-faire of the artisans’ techniques that made Bernardaud famous while modernizing its production facilities and focusing on collaboration with contemporary artists, designers and creators. Michel Bernardaud sees his role as both guardian of one of the few remaining manufacturers from Limoges that is still family owned and operated, and as a force for creativity and innovation.

Karen Archer recently spoke with Michel Bernardaud at the company’s flagship store on the rue Royale in Paris. Bernardaud has long collaborated with French Heritage Society for its highly successful Anniversary Galas. Bathed in warm lights that give a shimmering glow to the smooth porcelain surfaces that surround him, Michel explains, “Bernardaud is a family-owned business, we are the largest dinner ware company in France, the oldest still in the same family and we will celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2013.”

Collaboration with Contemporary Artists and Designers

Michel Bernardaud explains that, “we launch two collections every year. We work a lot with artists or designers, that is one of the trademarks of Bernardaud, and it has been for many, many years.” In the store wonderful plates by Chagall among others catch the eye. “We work with the most famous as well as some unknown artists. We also try to work very closely with students and schools that are interested in working in design. We also made, for Christmas last year, a manger, a very abstract manger that was displayed at the Madeleine Church in Paris. This manger got a lot of attention and is a spectacular piece more than two yards in diameter, so it’s quite big, with inside lighting. In fact, this manger will be on display at the Cathedral of Los Angeles at Christmas 2011 for a month and maybe in 2012 at Saint John the Divine in New York City.”

Bernardaud’s Special Collaboration with French Heritage Society

Michel Bernardaud smiles as he explains “we have a long history of collaboration with French Heritage Society, mainly due to a personal relationship with Astrid Stanfield-Pinel. We have made a lot of friends at French Heritage Society. We were part of the events at Vaux-le-Vicomte and at Chenonceau. We also had members of French Heritage Society visit our factory in Limoges a few years ago. And we will be at Fontainebleau in 2012 for your 30th Anniversary. We are also working on a project to launch a special dinner set featuring architectural or decorative elements of Fontainebleau. Thanks to French Heritage Society we have access to their archives and special visits with the Director of the Museum and the Château. It will be an honor to collaborate on this spectacular set.” This project will be further elaborated in the coming months.

Bernardaud in the US

“All the Limoges companies have a long history with the United States. You know, porcelain would not be what it is without the success that it has enjoyed within the United States, almost from the very beginning. We have always been very pleased with our relationships in the US.

My wife is American so I have lots of reasons to be very interested in what is happening in the United States.” And with the creation of a special dinner set to promote the artistry of Fontainebleau in collaboration with French Heritage Society’s 30th Anniversary celebration, Americans will have yet another reason to appreciate Bernardaud’s exquistite porcelain.