We don’t like anything in our kitchen to have a particularly “big personality”, so corkscrews that appear to be wearing puffball Lacroix dresses from the 1980s and an inane grin aren’t for us. We like it simple, well designed, and practical. Which isn’t to say it can’t be beautiful. With that in mind, we’re consistently drawn to all things from Puiforcat, the Parisian house that creates some of the finest modern silverware available today. The house has been in operation since 1820, but really found its feet in the early 20th century, when Jean Puiforcat – from the fourth generation of the family – became master silversmith. Things became cleaner, starker, with a notable architectural vigour. Puiforcat surrounded himself with some of the greatest names in modern design: René Herbst, Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Chareau.
In 1993 the Puiforcat house came under the wing of Hermès. Since then, new modern classics have appeared: Patrick Jouin – renowned for his work on so many of Alain Ducasse’s most directional interiors – created the Zermatt range of cutlery in 2010, which subsequently made it into the permanent collections of the Museum at the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
We particularly love the range of chef’s knives which Puiforcat developed in 2011 with Pierre Gagnaire, whose dining rooms at Hotel Balzac in Paris, Sketch in London and Reflets in Dubai are amongst our favourite places to eat anywhere in the world. Gagnaire is the absolute master of contemporary French haute cuisine, and as much a scientist as a chef. If anyone knows about what should go into the perfect kitchen utensil, it’s Gagnaire.
The Puiforcat x Pierre Gagnaire collection comes under the banner of “The Silversmith’s Knives”. Each item is graphic, sleek and strong, with a flawless build. They are, quite simply, the best kitchen knives in the world. There is a boning knife; fileting knife; chopping knife; bread knife; slicing knife and two paring knives. The blades are forged in the highest quality stainless steel – which stays perfectly sharp without sharpening for 25 years – and the handles are crafted from rosewood. They can be bought individually, or as a full set in a wood block (£2,300). They are that all too rare thing – everyday practical items that are equal parts functional, luxurious and beautiful. C