Marie Guerlain is from one of the most famous families of perfumiers in the world but is a businesswoman in her own right. In 2016, she launched Ondine at Harrods, and has already been awarded the Luxury Briefing ‘Emerging Luxury Brand of the Year’ for her range of beautiful cookware.
Despite her French heritage, Guerlain was brought up in London, France and Switzerland but has really spent most of her life in Britain. She certainly feels British. Her idea for the pans blossomed in an environment in which British consumers were becoming increasingly aware of their impact on the planet and ever more mindful of wishing to be more healthy in every aspect of their lives, starting at home, and very particularly in the kitchen.
Formerly an artist, Guerlain has three sons and, while cooking for her family, began to worry that the pans she was using were leaking toxins into the food. She was always trying to live in a non-toxic household and found there were no pans available that ticked all her boxes. There was a gap in the market, which she set out to fill. She decided to create her own range and before she knew it found herself meeting manufacturers in Italy. Months then years followed of learning about manufacturing, 3D design, rendering and prototypes – and going back to the drawing-board a million times to get the pans just so. She sourced the finest raw, non-recycled, new titanium, which is non-leach, non-porous and non-toxic. These pans will never poison anyone or become landfill. Titanium is so tough they make spaceships out of it, and the food will remain untainted and pure. She worked for seven years with top craftsmen.
Every detail, from the simplicity of the ergonomic shape, to the hand-finished brass handles, has been considered for a timeless style and functionality. Every aspect, from the milling of the pan body to the intricate 2D relieved pan bases, has been innovative and a labour of Guerlain’s love.
Her artistic eye means the results are irresistible as well as enduring and safe. The pans gleam reassuringly and are stunning to behold. The lids’ knobs are decorated with intricate monograms.
Guerlain’s intention is that they should be passed down the generations, just as beloved cookware always was before the advent of a throwaway culture, which produced cheap pans that fell apart.
‘Every pan is like a jewel and such a joy to use,’ she says. ‘The brass rivets make them appear industrial,’ she observes, ‘just to add to their cool.’ No wonder Ondine’s products are available online at Goop, LuxDeco and Wolf & Badger, and they had an airing on Masterchef recently with chef Francesco Mazzei. No wonder, too, that Guerlain is seeking to expand her cookware line and to move into utensils. She also wants to produce a recipe book and to film herself cooking her favourite osso bucco with saffron risotto or fried chicken – with her Ondine pans taking a starring role.