Limoges-based manufacturer Artoria, specialized in the production of precious ceramic bottles, has several developments in the pipeline. Artoria’s general manager Farid Zaidi tells us more.
Already at the helm of porcelain manufacturer Kaoline, you took over Artoria five years ago. What was your objective?
Kaoline specializes in the production of technical ceramics via pressing; Artoria's expertise lies in casting and sizing of fine porcelain for ornamental use, with specific know-how when it comes to complex shapes. Bringing these two companies together has enabled us to be proactive on all fronts when it comes to porcelain production. It was a logical move as Kaoline is a historical partner of Artoria’s. Kaoline was the one, for example, that developed the waterproof closure system perfected by Artoria, in which a component is pressed onto a steel mold to guarantee a perfect seal thanks to high-precision diameter regularity. As far as I know, we are the only ones to master this technique.
How is Artoria's activity segmented?
Cosmetics (bottles, jars, applicators) and perfumed objects constitute Artoria's main markets. Among our emblematic references are the refillables for Cha Ling (LVMH) and Guerlain's ceramic cylinders meant to be perfumed, which have replaced their traditional blotters in duty-free retail. Christian Dior and Chopard are also our clients, notably in the areas of gift-with-purchase, and we also work with niche tableware brands. We mainly produce custom pieces and since a large part of our manufacturing and decoration is automated, we are able to ensure short runs as well as quantities reaching hundreds of thousands of pieces.
What are latest trends when it comes to artistic ceramics?
Some 80% of demand today is for white porcelain, with biscuit (editor’s note: ceramics that are fired, but not glazed), which accounts for two-thirds of our production, seeing significant growth. Rougher and more tactile, biscuit is in tune with the times, and offers the possibility of engraving decorations of exceptional finesse, as illustrated by Guerlain's Abeille candle jar.
Luxury houses are increasingly drawn to the material’s ‘authenticity’.
With PGI (protected geographical indication) status since 2019, Porcelaine de Limoges is a brand in itself and has an undeniable prestige cachet. It’s also a material of choice to meet brands' requirements for eco-responsible refillable packaging. To best meet this demand, we are planning to invest in 3D technology. While 3D printing in ceramics is not ideal for full-scale production from a financial perspective, it does open up tremendous possibilities when it comes to modeling. Thanks to this new software tool, we’ll be able to develop 3D resin prototypes and modify them in record time to match our customers' projections as closely as possible.
On the innovation front, Artoria recently launched ceramic sticks meant to be dipped in fragrance.
Unlike rattan, ceramics do not degrade over time and the fragrance can be “reset” simply by washing the items in the dishwasher. Ceramics also offers a more premium look and feel. However, there was one hurdle: ceramic can only be shaped using expensive techniques, and these sticks need to stay accessibly priced. We came up with the idea of focusing on organic shapes—stems that could be molded directly (in wood or rosewood, with thorns). Shaped in a porous, bright white ceramic, they have been very well received and are currently being tested by several beauty brands.