written by:
July 8, 2013
Helming a classic, well-established company in the 21st century is tough enough work as it is without also having to deal with an intrinsic indebtedness to DNA. But, in the case of Xavier Dupuy, third generation President of La Cornue, the opportunity to bring his custom ranges to a more contemporary-leaning audience seems to have been somewhat of a no-brainer. In conjunction with French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, W. By La Cornue is a fearlessly modern project for the 105-year-old company—and their first new line in 30 years. We talked to Dupuy about bringing his ranges to U.S. markets, their rigorous production standards, and how to establish longevity with contemporary design.

Third generation CEO of La Cornue, Xavier Dupuy.

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The W. Oven Tower still features La Cornue's signature vaulted oven shape.

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The collection's stovetop is ultra-slender because it uses induction heat.

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The W. Oven Tower's built-in storage.

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Third generation CEO of La Cornue, Xavier Dupuy.

How long has it been since you took the helm at La Cornue?
La Cornue has been in my blood my entire life. My grandfather started the company in 1908 and then my father took over 40 years later. I officially took the helm in 1985. I hope to also stay for 40 years.

What would you consider your biggest personal accomplishments?
My biggest accomplishment is that today, La Cornue has been extended to 40 countries. Also to have American customers who have been cooking on La Cornue pieces for more than 20 years.

w oven in situ

The W. Oven Tower still features La Cornue's signature vaulted oven shape.

What are the hidden challenges to bringing a classic, historic and, some may say, iconic brand into the 21st Century? What elements are prioritized and which ones aren't?
We always look to the future of the company—while our tradition and history are extremely important, we are extremely forward-looking.

For the uninitiated, what are the hallmarks of La Cornue ranges?

All La Cornue kitchen ranges are produced to order – individually handmade by one person – this person will follow production through to the end. The process takes at least 2 months.

Technology has also always been paramount to the brand, but at the same time, we provide the same unwavering attention to upholding our tradition of quality. We use only the best materials, chosen for the durability and longevity: cast iron, steel, solid brass, nick, and enamel.

w tableinduction closeup

The collection's stovetop is ultra-slender because it uses induction heat.

What are the unique properties that have made them so popular, timeless?
The vaulted oven provides benefits unreachable with a regular appliance.

How did you develop the W. by La Cornue collection and what was the initial prompt to develop a more modern line?
The W Collection was conceived over a lunch meeting with famed French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. We were brainstorming ways to bring La Cornue into the 21st century and decided upon a concept that was totally different than anything we have done before.

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The W. Oven Tower's built-in storage.

And then was Wilmotte integral to the actual design and production of the collection?
The W Collection was designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte. It is La Cornue’s first collection of kitchen appliances designed by a famous designer, and yet the connections to some of the company’s hallmarks are obvious: size 150, high culinary performance, as well as the signature knobs and towel bar.

What were the design priorities for the project and what were the challenges to creating a clean, modern look from a very traditional brand?
The W Collection includes a new technology for the induction surface, energy conservation precautions, and a combination cooktop and oven. The line also includes complementary furniture and sink to complete the seamless look in the kitchen.

What's are the next steps and innovations for La Cornue?
We will launch an affordable, freestanding range with a very distinctive design – it will merge fashion and contemporary style for the home kitchen.

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