Luxury is the satisfaction of a desire
Nathalie Wouters-Remy is Chief Executive Officer of Christofle since March 2018. A graduate of the Solvay Business School in Brussels and with 20 years of experience in strategic consulting, including more than 18 years at McKinsey & Co, where she co-founded and managed the "Fashion and Luxury" division, she is taking her career in a new direction by joining Christofle.
Founded in 1830, Christofle is a prestigious French brand specializing in fine silverware, art -of- living and tableware. From Christofle’s creation, it has been oriented towards world class luxury, the very top of the line and elegance. Since then, it has never ceased to innovate and to infuse each collection with new styles, inspiring the decorative arts with the greatest designers and proposing new chemical processes for its exceptional products.
The creations signed by this silversmith's house showcase ancestral, stylistic and very refined techniques and know-how. Christofle's silversmith expertise and decorative arts are thus recognizable to all, notably thanks to renowned designers and creators. The Christofle workshops in Yainville make silverware and cutlery in silver-plated metal or solid sterling silver. They have the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (EPV) award.
Since 2018, Bureau d'Image has formed a partnership with Christofle to conduct high-end and tailor-made training courses around Tableware.
Bureau d’Image: How would you define luxury?
Nathalie Remy: Luxury is what creates and arouses desire. Time and space are certainly important components, but what most characterizes luxury is the satisfaction of a desire, a desire, a dream. To satisfy this desire, people are willing to wait, to invest themselves, to pay a premium.
BI: Does French luxury exist and what would its characteristics be?
NR: Every country has and maintains its traditions. Luxury in France is world-renowned because it has developed skills that respond precisely to the notion of pleasure and desire: culinary skills, service skills, silversmith's skills... Christofle is the world's greatest silversmith and safeguards this French know-how throughout its manufacture with, in particular, two "Meilleurs Ouvriers de France" in the disciplines of planishing and chasing, and a designer/architect Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. This irreplaceable human know-how is perpetuated by highly qualified craftsmen and is the living heritage of Christofle.
BI: What have been the major developments in luxury in recent decades?
NR: I would like to highlight two in particular: 1. globalization, with brands that have extended their footprint on the world stage and are no longer just local champions; 2. the acceleration of the pace of consumption. Historically, luxury goods have a long cycle of work and creation. But the pressure of the pace and the trend of fast fashion have led many companies into a frenzied race for high-frequency luxury. Nevertheless, in the last 5 to 8 years, many luxury houses have backed off. At Christofle, we create and offer luxury products that will last for more than 40 or 50 years. Quality and excellence require a longer time for development, creation and then production.
BI: How are luxury institutions stand out?
NR: They tend to stand out precisely on the balance of the rhythms I just mentioned. As far as brand communication is concerned, however, the pace at which brands speak out is accelerating and calls for a lot of creativity and innovation to tell stories.
BI: How would you define luxury tableware?
NR: We help to sublimate the moments, small and big, around the table, a, glass, a gift... It is probably during meals that we share the most convivial moments, a very important notion in our world today. The arts of the table include everything that refers to cooking, i.e. table decoration, gastronomy, oenology, crystal, social practices, glassware... Whether practiced professionally or as an amateur, they make the meal as pleasant as possible.
Christofle's historical core business is the meal, with the cutlery: it is the art of the table. Our ambition is to make this moment more beautiful and convivial in the rituals, whether it takes place in the dining room, the kitchen or in the garden.
BI : Which leader are you? What principles guide your professional life?
NR: I believe with great conviction in the success and in the success of everyone around me. The values of leadership are above all those of optimism, transparency and trust. For the past two years, I have been working to embody Christofle's image and values with a resolutely forward-looking vision. To lead all our teams along this path, it is necessary to create an atmosphere of transparency, kindness, respect and sharing around the Christofle image and values.
BI: What requirements does the management of a luxury establishment require?
NR: I set myself a demand for excellence, in line with the excellence that our business requires, whether it be for the design of our works, the customer experience, or the quality of our materials. Managing such a renowned and respected company requires a great deal of trans-versality and a 360° vision.
BI: What quality do we require from teams?
NR: Three qualities are essential to me: responsibility, entrepreneurship and human fiber. What makes an organization successful is not only talent, but also the right combination of these talents, the attention that each person pays to the other, mutual aid, empathy, and the spirit of team building.
BI: What fault inspires you the most leniency?
NR: Over-optimism! I have a lot of indulgence for those who are trying to realize their dreams and are not afraid to take risks.
BI: How important is it to train your teams to service excellence?
NR: The human being, by essence, is made to progress throughout his life. It is therefore essential, even more so in our high-end activities, to train regularly. To nurture the most beautiful customer experience, service is a crucial act: before, during and after the sale. At Christofle, the customer is at the heart of the company. Each of our decisions is guided by the need to provide exceptional service, the key to long-term customer loyalty. We therefore harmonize our training modules to imprint our style of excellence, which is part of our brand identity, so that all our employees embody the Christofle spirit.
BI: Even as CEO, do we continue to learn a little more about luxury, its codes and its many ways to embody it?
NR: The world continues to evolve and the world of luxury perhaps even faster than the rest. It is crucial to stay tuned to changes, to immerse oneself in new trends, to keep reading time to discover new concepts. This breathing time is essential for absorbing trends and developing a creative imagination.
BI: What advice would you give to young professionals?
NR: Take the initiative and take risks! But do it with 2 horizons: long and medium term, because there is no straight line. You must therefore move forward without forgetting the buoys that mark out the course, allowing and sometimes even encouraging a change of course.
BI: What do you recommend for men: neat beard or close shave?
NR: As long as the beard is well worn and neat, I do not care about style or look.
BI: For women: for or against red polish?
NR: I find it very beautiful in other people's homes and I do not impose any prohibitions on it. However, it must be impeccable, because I will always advocate the absence of varnish if it is not impeccable.
BI: For or against tattoos?
NR: Our sellers embody a Brand with 190 years of history and a style that is both contemporary and timeless. For tattoos, I accept them if they are not too visible.
BI: If luxury were a color, what would it be?
NR: Green, the new Christofle identity color. Elegant, lively and sober at the same time, it is suitable for both men and women and, moreover, it perfectly enhances the value of money.
BI: An animal?
NR: The dog because Christofle launches "Royal Jack", a new collection of accessories dedicated to our pets.
BI: An adjective?
NR: Rare. Abundance does not arouse desire.
BI: An emotion?
BI: An object? / A work of art?
NR: The Christofle sailboat or a high-cut dress.
BI: A motto?
NR: That of Charles Christofle: "one quality, the best".
BI: A Virtue?
NR: Generosity and sharing, which favor the preservation and durability of know-how.
BI: A historical figure?
NR: Charles Christofle, a visionary and humanist, curious and a traveler, who founded a great, almost bicentenary House, today present in 67 countries. Very early on, he had set up a health system for all his employees while providing them with accommodation.