In 1828 a local blacksmith in the French village of Laguiole (pronounced Lay-ol) hammered out the town’s first folding knife. A few decades later, as knife-making developed into a local industry, designer Pierre Jean Calmels refined the rustic pattern, giving the handle its signature sinuous shape and finishing each piece with ornamental flourishes such as bumblebees and shepherds’ crosses. After two world wars depleted manpower and wiped out production, the workshop reopened as Forge de Laguiole in 1987 under the direction of designer Philippe Starck. Each knife is still made by skilled craftsmen from start to finish, each one taking several hours or even days to manufacture. Nicolas Sarkosy’s office often commissioned these knives to be given to visiting heads of state.
In your quest for all things Laguiole, beware of cheap imitations. The name Laguiole was never patented, so unlike legally protected denominations or origin such as Champagne, mass and machine-manufactured copycats can be found that mimic the original design.