Gien captures the essence of the French joie de vivre with its vibrant creations. For centuries, faience has held the coveted position as the preferred alternative to porcelain imports from China, adored by European royalty. Gien continues to breathe new life into this ancient art form, producing premium-quality faience that radiates elegance, luxury, and authenticity.


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About GIEN

Gien captures the essence of the French joie de vivre with its vibrant creations. For centuries, faience has held the coveted position as the preferred alternative to porcelain imports from China, adored by European royalty. Gien continues to breathe new life into this ancient art form, producing premium-quality faience that radiates elegance, luxury, and authenticity.

Faience, a traditional tin-glazed earthenware, is renowned for its delicate off-white glaze adorned with captivating, vivid colors. Gien's distinct organic shapes and nature-inspired motifs seamlessly blend classic French sophistication with the rustic charm of Southern France. Each plate, cup, and bowl is meticulously handcrafted following time-honored traditions, making every piece of faience a unique work of art, imbued with the human touch that brings it to life.

Gien proudly carries the 100% Made in France label, a testament to its commitment to quality. The manufacturing process is carefully supervised, from the selection of raw materials to the harmonious blending of colors. Even the casting and printing molds are crafted in-house, ensuring the highest standards of craftsmanship at every stage.

Significantly, Gien's dedication to preserving its rich heritage and craftsmanship has earned official recognition from the French State. The manufactory holds the prestigious status of a cultural heritage company, symbolizing the embodiment of French excellence in every piece of faience it lovingly creates.

Two Centuries of Gien – Europe's Foremost Faience Artistry

Established in 1821, the "Faïencerie de Gien" proudly resides on the Loire River in the town of Gien. Located 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Paris in the Centre-Val de Loire region, Gien holds a central position in France.

Founded by Englishman Thomas Hall, Gien harmoniously blended English craftsmanship with French aesthetics. Over time, Gien artisans developed a unique style, incorporating global influences and specializing in personalized monograms and coats of arms.

Today, Gien excels in crafting tableware and decorative pieces, including elegant vases. Notably, Gien's painted tiles, used in Paris Métro stations from 1906 to 1980, remain iconic.

As a member of the prestigious Comité Colbert, Gien's dinnerware and Prestige collections are featured in top department stores worldwide. The "Musée de la faïencerie" showcases Gien's rich history, while collaborations with designers and artists like Paco Rabanne, Andrée Putman, Patrick Jouin, Isabelle de Borchgrave, and Garouste and Bonetti continue to innovate.

Material Faience

Faience is a type of tin-glazed earthenware renowned for its vibrant and intricate decorations. Unlike porcelain, which is fired at higher temperatures, earthenware, including faience, is crafted from distinct raw materials and subjected to lower firing temperatures. This results in a porous and opaque "body" of fired clay. The distinguishing feature of faience lies in its thick, white tin glaze, which not only safeguards the clay body but also provides a canvas for artistic embellishment.

What sets Gien's faience apart is the exceptional quality of both its clay mixture and glaze. The intricate blend of clay permits the creation of delicate and lightweight forms, while the robust tin glaze is fired at temperatures exceeding 1000°C, rendering faience more resilient compared to other earthenware varieties with thinly glazed surfaces that are cold-fired at just 100°C.

Yet, the primary allure of faience remains its aesthetics. Its organic, off-white tableware adorned with luminous paintings is an enduring style icon steeped in history and allure. Faience is not merely a visual delight, its flawless glaze offers a warm, tactile quality unmatched by other ceramics.

Is Faience by Gien considered "China"?

In many English-speaking countries, the term "china" is commonly used to refer to special occasion dinnerware. This terminology has historical roots in the fact that the most prestigious dinnerware used to be imported to Europe and North America from China. As nearly all ceramics imported from China were crafted from porcelain, the term "china" also became synonymous with porcelain. This is evident in the term "fine bone china," which denotes a specific type of porcelain.

In the broader sense, faience dinnerware by Gien is a versatile choice suitable for both everyday use and special occasions, making it an excellent candidate for your next set of dinnerware. However, it's important to note that faience is a distinct type of ceramic from porcelain.

The key distinction lies in the fact that porcelain becomes non-porous after firing and exhibits minimal water absorption even without a glaze. In contrast, the clay body of faience remains porous and can absorb water. This is why faience is characterized by a thick white glaze that serves to safeguard the body from moisture and potential damage.

The Origins of Faience

The story of French faience finds its roots in the 14th century in the Italian city of Faenza. It was there that ceramics, influenced by Moorish designs, were crafted as a sought-after alternative to porcelain imported from China. These brilliant white ceramics, adorned with intricate paintings, captivated the French court, leading to their adoption and the name "faïence," which paid homage to their presumed place of origin.

As the centuries passed, numerous faience workshops emerged independently across Europe. Each of these workshops developed its distinct local style, ranging from the intricate Italian maiolica to the renowned Dutch Delftware. However, with the revelation of the secrets of porcelain production in Europe, many of these workshops transitioned either to crafting prestigious porcelain or to mass-producing inexpensive earthenware. Only a select few faience workshops remained dedicated to their craft, with Gien standing as one of the most significant and enduring examples worldwide.

French Craftsmanship at its Finest – The Art of Gien

Each piece from Gien embodies two centuries of craftsmanship. Employing traditional techniques, Gien ensures exceptional premium quality, transforming raw materials into exquisite crockery through a meticulous, handcrafted process.

Gien's closely guarded clay mixture consists of over 14 different types of earth, including kaolin, also known as porcelain earth. This intricate composition imparts the faience with its warm and organic color. The production of flat items like plates involves pressing, while hollow objects such as jugs are cast, with Gien creating the essential plaster molds in-house.

Following an initial firing at 1145°C, the clay objects are coated with a tin-based glaze. During a second firing at 1045°C, the glaze melds seamlessly with the clay. Depending on the chosen decoration, the faience pieces are meticulously hand-painted or subjected to chromolithography, followed by a third firing at 1045°C. This process permanently fuses the colors with the glaze, contributing to the exceptional durability of Gien's china.

The limited masterpieces of the Prestige collections are exclusively hand-painted. Gien's skilled painters undergo a rigorous three-year apprenticeship to master the intricate painting techniques. By the time a piece is completed, it has passed through the skilled hands of 30 expert artisans.

At every stage of production, rigorous quality controls are in place. The art of faience crafting demands precision, with both clay and colors susceptible to even minor variations in environmental conditions during production. Artisans must meticulously monitor the smallest differences in size and color, adapting with each piece, for faience is a living art form, responsive to its creators' expertise.

Rustic Elegance – Gien's Captivating Aesthetic

Radiating warmth, authenticity, and an inviting charm, Gien's style seamlessly fuses classic elegance with the romantic allure of the Mediterranean. A harmonious blend of historical legacy and contemporary trends infuses Gien's collections with a distinctive personality. 

Gien's dinnerware effortlessly departs from the ordinary, boasting a diverse array of shapes, rich colors, and captivating narratives. Its embodiment of French "joie de vivre" is contagious—take a moment to savor your time at the table with loved ones. The artistic decors by Gien offer endless creative possibilities, inviting you to explore and combine them with fresh additions regularly. 

Gien's Beloved Classics

1. Millefleurs: The simplicity and functionality of the shapes allow the lush floral decorations to shine. This poetic dinnerware brings families together for memorable breakfasts, leisurely lunches, or delightful tea time gatherings, evoking the spirit of the Mediterranean.

2. Filet Bleu: Gien's quintessential classic. This timeless collection features delicate hand-painted blue bands that elegantly adorn the scalloped borders of ecru-colored dinnerware. For a charming and colorful table setting, mix and match different hues from the Filet collection, creating an inviting and delightful ambiance.

3. Oiseau Bleu: A classic in Gien's catalog since the 19th century, the Oiseau Bleu collection beautifully exemplifies Gien's unique blend of classic elegance and vintage charm. Its monochrome patterns feature blue flowers and birds reminiscent of antique china. Additionally, the classic Oiseau Bleu dinnerware is complemented by versions featuring cheeky, full-color fruit motifs layered atop the timeless blue patterns, offering a delightful twist on tradition.

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