The story of French porcelain begins in 1768 when a woman from the village of Saint-Yrieix La Perche near Limoges discovers a soft, white clay that she uses to bleach her household linens. Experts would identify this substance as kaolin: the crucial, long sought after ingredient that is responsible for the resiliency, durability and flawless iridescent translucency of fine porcelain. The search for this “secret ingredient” had lasted four centuries since Marco Polo’s discovery of Chinese porcelain. The discovery of kaolin in France marked the birth of industrial and cultural significance of Limoges porcelain.
After being an apprentice for 20 years and after being promoted to head of sales and later on to partner, in 1900, Léonard Bernardaud acquired the company and named it after himself. He increased the production capacity of the factory and opened up new markets, notably in the United States.
Being a family business, Léonard Bernardaud was succeeded by his sons who took the company past the turbulence of the Great Depression and World War II, through collaborations with great artists of the time, creating and expanding the company’s range of collections.
Reaching the 5th generation of family leadership, Michel Bernardaud joined the company to help develop the brand globally and increase the public awareness regarding manufacturers in Limonges porcelain. Still to this day, the company’s philosophy remains the same as it was 150 years ago – preservation of technical expertise, tradition of creativity and passion for innovation.