Magazine article Marketing

Champions of Design: Le Creuset

Magazine article Marketing

Champions of Design: Le Creuset

Article excerpt

The stylish cookware brand has an unmistakeable association with all that's best in French cuisine.

First forged in 1925 in a foundry in Fresnoy-le-Grand, France, Le Creuset's cast-iron cookware is still hand-made today, using the same techniques.

Armand Desaegher, a casting specialist, and Octave Aubecq, an enamelling expert, set out to produce a range of distinctive cookware, after they met by chance at a trade show in Brussels.

Although Le Creuset would come to be identified with French cooking, its creators were both Belgian. They chose north-east France as the location because of its strong links to supplies of the core materials needed to make cast-iron products.

Pig iron, recycled steel from the car industry, and recycled iron from manufacturing are melted together and cast in a sand mould to make each piece unique.

One of the first items made by Le Creuset was also one that would become an enduring classic. The Cocotte, or casserole dish, originally enamelled in volcanic orange, is still its most popular product.

Production was hindered during World War II when the area came under German occupation, but soon after the war finished, Le Creuset began extending its range. In 1952 it expanded to the US and the rest of Europe, attracting consumers with its quality, bright colours and French style.

It acquired one of its major competitors, Les Hauts Fourneaux of Cousances, in business since 1553, and took over manufacturing the popular Doufeu, a casserole dish with a lid designed to keep food moist.

In 1958 Le Creuset employed industrial designer Raymond Loewy, creator of the classic Coca-Cola bottle and known as 'the father of industrial design', to streamline the look of the casserole dish for a younger generation. The fresh design remained popular into the 70s.

Another influential designer, Enzo Mari, would also modify Le Creuset, producing the Le Mama range, which featured distinctly shaped handles Products such as a fondue set and barbecue were also introduced.

After Le Creuset took over the wine accessory brand Screwpull in the early 90s, expansion continued as the brand began producing stainless-steel, stoneware and textile products.

It opened international subsidiaries, first in the US, and later in the UK and Japan, and in the 2000s it expanded across Europe and China. It has also introduced colours such as chocolate, pistachio, kiwi and lavender to its cast-iron ranges, helping it to retain the individuality of its heritage. …

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