Austere to the point of otherworldly, Muriel Grateau’s stark white boutique is the perfect backdrop for the Paris-based designer’s sumptuous porcelain dinnerware, which looks as though all the colour has been leached out of the atmosphere, to re-emerge in deeply saturated or barely tinted plates, bowls, platters, cups, saucers and teapots. The art gallery effect also underscores the sculptural quality of the dishes – and there’s truth in this, as most of the dishes could make an artistic statement on their own or highlighting a single piece of fruit. The level of craftsmanship required for Grateau’s smooth matte porcelain is rare for something as prosaic as dinnerware.
Each piece is crafted by hand and Grateau’s luscious colour palette of rich earth tones – ochre, green, gold and whisper-pale pastels – is achieved by adding pigment directly to the porcelain slip as it’s shaped, rather than paint them afterwards. All the pieces lend themselves to mixing and layering, and with a burnished gold or bronze piece thrown in, the effect can be dramatic and subtle.
Grateau’s minimal designs are also utterly sensual, with no sharp edges or severe lines. Whether the piece is an ample cheese platter or a minuscule salt cellar, each one feels both substantial and light in the hand, a contrast Grateau exploits to utmost effect, with both her tableware and sculpted jewellery. The surprisingly Baroque rings, bracelets and brooches displayed in black boxes at the back of the boutique possess both heft and grace.
There is also some of the most delicate hand-blown glassware, carafes, and rainbow of linen napkins in a hundred different shades. As you would expect with this level of craft, the porcelain and glassware is made to order, and therefore has a delivery time of two to three months.
7, Rue de Beaune 7th arrondissement, + 33 (0)1 40 20 42 82
Originally published in the August-September 2013 issue of France Today