Mongolia is a long way to go to get a carafe made. But that’s the only place in the world where Elise Pioch Balzac, founder of luxury homewares brand Maison Balzac, could find a factory that would individually mouth-blow carafes to her exact specifications. The artisans use tubes of coloured glass – in pink, green, teal and a smoky charcoal for Balzac – which they melt to order. They are strikingly elegant and richly coloured.
“When I started the brand four years ago, I was looking for a glass manufacturer [that] would make a very special vessel for me,” she says. “I looked everywhere – from France to the US to Australia to Japan. [Only one] in Mongolia came back and said, ‘Yes, sure, we can do that for you’.
“Their specialty is mouth-blowing coloured glasses. It’s a family-run factory that’s been around for 80 to 100 years, but the skill there in that region is from centuries ago.
“If I order a quantity of pale pink [carafes], they melt the quantity of pale pink glass they need, and then one master glassmaker [makes] hundreds at once. If I place an order of hundreds, they will all have the same mouth to them.”
The shape of Maison Balzac’s carafe and glass was inspired by a set Balzac saw about two years ago while browsing an antiques market in the southern French town of Béziers.
“An antiques dealer had a little carafe with a glass sitting over it. I took a picture and I thought, ‘Wow, this is something that we’ve forgotten how to use.' It is just for one person to have water in the middle of the night – to have sitting on their bedside table. That’s such a beautiful, personal tradition. The one I took a photo of was very 19th century. We’ve done a cleaner version, with thin, thin glass, an angled neck and a round bottom with a glass that sits over it.
“Everything I make has to fall into a hundred-year plan,” she says. “It has to be something that can travel in time without [it] being [obvious] what era it was made.