Digoin and the stoneware savoir-faire

Jul 12, 2018 | Craftsmanship

With each box, we choose a brand to reveal before the box is shipped, just to give a little taste of what surprises await you in the next box. For the August box, whose theme is “la cuisine française”, we’ve chosen to reveal stoneware brand Manufacture de Digoin!

The Manufacture des Grès et Poteries de Digoin was founded in 1875 as a family-owned business in the Burgundy region of France. By 1900, Digoin and neighboring Paray-le-Monial became known as the Ceramic Valley, with 40 factories each making different types of ceramics.

Manufacture de Digion, JM Palisse, Studio Midisix

Digoin specialized in stoneware garden potteries, using local sandstone clay and firing the pieces at 1250’C (about 2282’F), giving each piece a strength and impermeability that would stand the test of food, frost and time. In its heydey, the factory employed up to 600 workers. Unfortunately, with the rise of plastic and glassware, the factory was forced to close its doors.

Manufacture de Digion, JM Palisse, Studio Midisix

At the age of 52, Corinne Jourdain Gros left her position as commercial director at the Publicis agency and went back to school. Finding herself interested in ceramics, she visited the dormant Digoin factory and became determined to revive its stoneware traditions to be enjoyed by future generations. In 2012 she began the massive undertaking of restoring the machines and recruiting a new set of stoneworkers. The factory reopened in 2014, and has since presented collaborative collections with French home good store Habitat and, probably the most recognizable everyday example of their work, are producing the little clay pots in which Maille mustard is sold.

Manufacture de Digion, JM Palisse, Studio Midisix

Many of the pieces, especially the culinary ones, are classics that have a spot in any kitchen, but some have fun details as well- an oval terrine with a fish for the lid handle, a pitcher modeled to look like a pineapple.

Manufacture de Digion, JM Palisse, Studio Midisix

Because her goal is to revive the factory’s traditional pottery methods, Corinne hired experienced potters to teach the new generation, preserving the savoir-faire, 140 years of tradition that characterized the Ceramic Valley at its peak. She hopes to one day have an artist’s residence and to open up the factory to visitors- perhaps even opening a bistrot in the old forge.

Manufacture de Digion, JM Palisse, Studio Midisix

Manufacture de Digion, JM Palisse, Studio Midisix

All photos by JM Palisse, Studio Midisix- courtesy of Manufacture de Digoin

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