Tiffany & Co.'s new custom-design service is the answer for anyone in search of unique, one-of-a-kind table settings.
Master artisans at the company-owned Le Tallec Studio in Paris, the world-renowned studio for hand-painted porcelain, create unique pieces that are custom-ordered and designed to meet the specifications of the Tiffany customer. From the creation of the initial pattern to the finished plate, the process details the custom design service Tiffany & Co. offers clients who wish to create their own Le Tallec pattern.
"We had so many requests for custom design jewelry work, that it only seemed natural to offer custom dishware, too," says Allen Nissim, a Tiffany & Co. group director who oversees the custom Le Tallec business. "This is really 21st century luxury."
Custom designs have ranged from those that incorporated a family crest to a favorite animal, flower or even the home decor of a customer. The Tiffany design department presents several different options to the customer and tweaks from there before a pattern is finalized. Each piece is initialed by the painter, dated and marked "Tiffany & Co., hand painted, Made in France." The artists can also include an inscription that says "This piece was made specially for..." and include the customer's name. Customers can initiate the custom design process at any Tiffany & Co. store location. The pattern seen above was created by designer Celerie Kemble who worked closely with actress Mariska Hargitay. It was based on Le Tallec's Cirque Chinois collection.
The labor intensive, entirely hand-created process is much like the manufacturing and decorating techniques used during the 18th and 19th centuries. The design process is labor-intensive even for designs that are as seemingly simple as green stripes. "It is labor-intensive to get the colors consistent around the border," says Nissim. "It takes a lot of skill to get the shades just right."
The initial creative process in developing a pattern can take as long as three months, depending on what the client is looking for and the scope of the order. The design may be somewhat different for a dinner plate or a bowl than it is for a tray. "Different pieces may have different interpretations of the same pattern," says Nissim.
One order for a set of 400 pieces required nearly six months just to develop the pattern and another year to create the pieces. Prices vary depending on the piece and design. A dinner plate starts at $1,200, but can cost more depending on the design. "People are comfortable with the cost when the finished product reflects their interest and taste," says Nissim
Smaller orders are also acceptable. A recent request was placed by a soon-to-be married couple who wanted custom-designed trays to present as a gift to members of their bridal party with each piece personally inscribed.
"These pieces become a legacy for generations to come," Nissim adds.