Or why Le Creuset is Orange?
It is often jokingly said that there aren’t many famous Belgians and that the most famous ones are only fictional – Poirot and TinTin.
There are, however, two other Belgians who deserve some recognition – Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq. Both were successful industrialists in the early twentieth century, but their claim to fame arose from their meeting at the Brussels Fair in 1924.
Armand Desaegher was a casting specialist and Octave Aubecq was an enamelling specialist. They decided to work together, combining their skills.
The results were to transform a kitchen staple into a worldwide brand, making a commodity that was both more functional and more attractive. They added ease of cleaning and visual appeal to the durability of cast iron cookware.
As they developed their first prototypes they experimented with shapes and colours. The colour they chose, and which is still most associated with the brand, was Flame (an orange colour). Some sources say that the choice was based on a Scandinavian cooker that Octave had seen on his travels.
Whatever the source of that original choice, it was to give their new cookware both the aesthetic appeal they wanted but also the inspiration for their name. Once applied and hardened it gave the pots the hue of molten cast iron inside a cauldron or “creuset” in French. The brand now had a trademark colour and name.
Now with a product, a brand name and what was to become an iconic colour, the partners set up the “Le Creuset” foundry. They chose to base themselves in the French town of Fresnoy-le-Grand, Aisne, Picardy, as it was the “crossroads” of transportation routes for iron, coke and sand.
The foundry opened in 1925 and the first Cocottes (or French Ovens) were produced.
Today Le Creuset is sold in more than 60 countries around the world. The Cocotte is still the most popular item, still produced at Fresnoy-le-Grand and of course still sold in the original orange colour.
Unfortunately for them Desanegher and Armand still don’t make most people’s list of famous Belgians.