Open the ovens! Bringing back to life the beauty of the ancient porcelain factory born during the French Revolution is the bet taken by Sophie Salager, historian of the Parisian decorative arts. Couleuvre’s unique manufacturing knowledge meets a contemporary vision to begin a new chapter in its history.
Founded in 1789, the Couleuvre porcelain factory, named after the village where it is located in the heart of the Bourbonnais, 100 kilometers from Limoges, has specialized since its origins in comfort and color.
Couleuvre, the small Sèvres of the 1920s, the last decorative porcelain art factory in Bourbonnais
Since its inception, the factory has participated in the history of the decorative arts and especially under the impetus of Albert Laurent, its emblematic director, to revitalize the porcelain industry in the 1920s through collaboration with the artistic community at the time. decided to make Couleuvre a little Sèvres.
He will make artistic and relief models in limited editions like very little, while expanding the decorations with numerous workshops in Couleuvre and Paris. Albert Laurent died prematurely and the factory became more utilitarian things that could have been very successful in the 60s and 80s, a time when the factory had up to 150 employees before experiencing high reductions, and its closure in 2020 Of the six factories in the Bourbonnais, only one remains.
A balancing act between the past and the future
In October 2021, a new life began for the production, when Sophie Salager got it to join an investment fund. It is developing a strategy that goes through the development of a contemporary identity based on its history, to offer models in limited editions, from dishes to small furniture and decorative items. A balancing work between the past and the future that increasingly involves development work based on 3D images and on plaster molds whose manufacturing technique dates back to the 18th century.
Thus it will offer reissues of models from the 1930s such as “Les Perles”, “Les Algues”, some of these decorations are signed by famous artists such as Cocteau, but also current creations from in in-house studios such as “Écailles de Couleuvre”, collaborations with artists or brands. The manufacture will also reproduce editions of utilitarian items in more transparent white porcelain to be offered exclusively at its factory outlet in Couleuvre.
A residence for artists and a training center
Manufacture de Couleuvre will also develop in the form of an artist residency to create a partnership with ESDMAA (Ecole Supérieure de Design et Métier d’Art d’Auvergne) in Izeure, which specializes in product design and ceramics.
Even if the new owner kept the 10,000m2 factory built in the 19th century where the molds are now stored, he streamlined the production lines, which he installed in a new- of 2,000m2 of space and intends to invest in research and Development.
Seven former factory employees were hired when the event resumed in February and secured 14 stages of production at Couleuvre where everything was done by hand, from molding to enamel. Three more employees will be recruited this year. For this, the Couleuvre factory is supported by the Commune, the Department and the European Union.
Manufacture of Couleuvre
Route to Lurcy-Lévis 03320 Couleuvre