Pia Hofmann Piard, CEO of the famous company founded in 1690, invites us to Odiot's table, which gives a modern slant to a certain lifestyle.
How did you come to work with silver?
Through tableware: I have always loved entertaining. Odiot has an extraordinary collection, which belongs to everyone because you'll find it in leading museums all over the world. We still have the moulds, so we can continue to reproduce a large number of the old models today, including those created under Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot, the company's greatest silversmith. It is crucial for us to safeguard and restore these moulds, and above all to perpetuate the company's know-how.
What challenges did you face after buying up Odiot?
The brand was a Sleeping Beauty, abandoned by investors only looking to make huge profits. (…) My team and I completely updated the manufacturing process; the workshops' activities were brought together at a single site, and we integrated the workshop of Rouge-Pullon, a specialist in the restoration of antique pieces. We overhauled all the electrolysis baths: an enormous undertaking, as everything was very old and run-down. We are now very independent in terms of colours and restoration.
Why did you create the "Odiot Circle"?
We wanted to create a connection between people who love tableware, its culture and history, particularly the Napoleonic period. One of our first members was the widow of a direct descendant of Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot. The circle mainly involves French people, and it includes the younger generation, who possess family pieces or items bought for collections, which they are increasingly bringing out into the light of day.
What are your main approaches for development?
It is important to go on making ornamental pieces for an international clientele belonging to a certain elite. We work with Monaco, Russia, China and the Middle East. Our inspiration perpetuates the Neoclassical tradition, but we avoid anything that smacks of the museum: Odiot is a living company. We make bespoke pieces, as we are currently doing with a Japanese family, who are designing a family dinner service inspired by Marie-Antoinette. We are also keen to develop a range accessible to everyone, with a contemporary style that also reflects the company's DNA. Projects under way for 2020 include some limited editions and sculptures.
What are the most iconic pieces?
The breast-shaped bowl of Pauline Borghese, with her favourite symbol, the butterfly, which alludes to Psyche and the flighty feminine soul. The "Biennais" lamp is also very striking. It was created for Napoleon, then modified by Louis XVIII, who wanted it to include emblems of the monarchy. The originals are in the Élysée Palace, on the President's desk. The "Leda" oil and vinegar cruet mingles sculpture and silverwork, while the "Jefferson" tumbler has very clean, simple lines. The American ambassador commissioned it from Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot, and it returned to France with Richard Nixon, who offered it as a diplomatic gift to President Georges Pompidou. It has a timeless, almost contemporary style. With cutlery, there is the "Laetitia" model designed for Madame Mère and the great classic, "Vigne", created for Prince Demidoff, who commissioned some prestigious pieces from us. This is still our best-seller, particularly in Russia.