Upcycling is coming to some very fancy dinner parties.
Luxury tableware brand Ginori 1735 conscripted nine creatives to give a new life to its stock of “decommissioned items” that did not fully meet its steep quality requirements due to tiny scratches or imperceptible wobbles in volume.
The Florence-based maker has built up quite a stock of ever-so-slightly imperfect plates, bowls, tureens and teapots and handed over these blank canvases to European artists, decorators and designers, each of whom designed a service of at least 54 unique pieces.
Among the first to sign up for the project, dubbed Reborn, were decorator Jacques Grange and gallery owner Pierre Passebon, who hosted a cocktail and dinner on Tuesday night in Paris to show off these zhuzhed up plates and bowls, mounted on the walls like paintings. There were also conversation-starting vases and floor lamps, which can be made to order.
Before guests had repaired to dinner at La Halle aux Grains at the nearby Bourse de Commerce, home to the Pinault Collection, Ginori 1735 president and chief executive officer Alain Prost reported that about 80 percent of the sets were already sold, each at 50,000 euros, suggesting frothy demand for exceptional and original homewares.
Greek artist Marina Karella chose to illustrate poems she liked, plucking a line from each and handwriting it around the border of each dish.
“I was very inspired by the colors of Ginori,” she said. “The way they interpreted my watercolors on the porcelain is incredible.”
Karella rolled her eyes when asked if she could detect any flaws on the virgin pieces meticulously painted with her delicate designs. “These porcelain companies are such perfectionists,” she said. “I think it’s a brilliant idea to save all these magnificent pieces.”
British photographer and painter Ivan Terestchenko gave over his table service to fashion. “It is haute porcelain dedicated to haute couture,” he said, looking up at rows of gilded plates exalting design greats including Gabrielle Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Elsa Schiaparelli, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix and Josephus Thimister.
Terestchenko also decorated cake platters, serving bowls and decorative urns with the tools of the trade, scattering them with pins, spools of thread, measuring tapes and scissors.
“I love the making of things,” he enthused, describing his effort as “precious, a bit exiting, entertaining and chic.”
Passebon guided the likes of Maryvonne Pinault and Terry de Gunzburg around the crowded gallery, with guests spilling out into the Galerie Véro-Dodat, the picturesque covered passage that also houses several Christian Louboutin boutiques.
Energized by the project, Grange created dinner sets for the country (wavy dish-towel checks) and the city (delicate pinwheel graphics), showing how the artisans at Ginori 1735 hand-painted his comb-like shapes on a mustard-yellow set. “Each plate is different,” he marveled, also pointing at his low coffee tables with ceramic tops decorated with the growth rings of trees.
According to Kering-owned Ginori 1735, the Reborn project will open up to more collaborations in the most important art capitals in the world, including Milan.
Participants from the first edition also included Paloma Picasso, Mattia Bonetti, Bela Silva, Hélène Dalloz Bourguignon and Giuseppe Ducrot. All works are signed on the back and come with certificates of authenticity.