Forge de Laguiole
The story of Forge de Laguiole, the world’s most revered cutlery brand, began nearly 200 years ago. Starting with the Laguiole Droit (straight knife) in 1828, M. Casimir Antoine Moulin established the very first forge and cutlery business in Laguiole, France, launching a tradition of knife making in the area.
Knife manufacture was at its height in 1900 with 30 craftsmen employed in Laguiole. The area quickly become celebrated for the intricate carvings of the handles and the very first bee, which is still present on each piece today, appeared in 1909. The first handles were made of ivory carved into various natural forms such as horse hooves, rattlesnake tails and rams heads. New carvings were created to appeal to each new design movement such as Edwardian and Art Nouveau eras.
Forge de Laguiole knives continue to take inspiration from the Aubrac region, and the complex manufacturing process still requires many essential steps. Meticulously made from start to finish, the cutlers are akin to goldsmiths and watchmakers when it comes to sculpting, polishing, hardening, etching, riveting and stamping, and it is the cutlers’ hands that make each knife unique.
The steel is forged while white hot to ensure the legendary sharpness of the blades, with the tempering carried out using oil to give both hardness and elasticity. Whilst the blades were originally made from carbon steel, they are now crafted from T12, a steel developed specifically for the brand. This steel combines durability, rust resistance and ease of sharpening which when matched with Forge de Laguiole’s unique methods of forging and tempering ensures the blade’s endurance.
Every knife takes hours, sometimes days to complete, with the precise alignment of each element, from its spring to the bolsters, all aiding in the blade’s longevity and durability. The final manufacturing stage is polishing which is carried out by hand using cotton or linen discs, before the blade receives one last sharpening. Each knife is crafted, assembled and finished by hand by just one artisan and to maintain the utmost quality control every piece is carefully inspected by several people before it receives the Forge de Laguiole seal of approval.
French born Philippe Starck is one of the most influential contemporary designers in the world. He has worked across a plenitude of mediums, from hotels to lemon squeezers, and his designs have changed the world in which we live. Favouring stylised, organic styles, he is known for often choosing unusual and innovative materials.
His work with Forge de Laguiole goes back to when he was entrusted with the new workshop design in 1987. Perfectly interpreting the philosophy of the brand, combining creativity with the rich tradition of the knives, Starck’s vision entailed a glass and aluminium structure. The workshop was topped with an 18m blade pointing straight into the sky, representing the activity and dynamism of the firm.
He was the very first designer to collaborate on creating a knife for the brand and has gone on to create five different knife designs for them, including the Cheese knife ‘Jojo Long Legs’ with a handle made from polished Bakelite.
Forge de Laguiole
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