Opinel Stays Sharp In Its Brand Legacy
It's no secret we adore Opinel knives. Effective, elegant, svelte. Today, we're spotlighting the makers at Opinel and celebrating our shared connections of family and heritage brands, manufacturing and intention. Led by the fourth generation of the Opinel family, the company's 110 employees currently produce 4.5 million knives each year from the brand’s headquarters in Chambery, France.
It all began in 1890, when at 18 years old, Joseph Opinel started work in his family’s blacksmith shop in the little hamlet of Albiez-le-Vieux, and designed his first pocket knife. Though his father eschewed modern technology, Opinel embraced new machinery that allowed him to develop a knife that could be manufactured efficiently, making it affordable for the everyman. This became the signature Opinel No. 08.
In their home in the heart of the French Alps, under the shade of tall trees and among the scents of the living forest, the Opinel team finds their inspiration and the materials for their trade.
Opinel carefully selects beech, hornbeam, walnut, and ash wood and other varieties from ecologically managed French woodlands in the Alpine region and Jura mountains. From the forest, they then move to their workshop in Chambery, where they shape iconic pocket knives, striving along the way for the highest levels of sustainability and responsibility.
The majority of Opinel's products are made from wood and steel — strong and durable materials meant to stand the test of time. Each blade is stamped with the famous crowned hand inspired by the coat of arms of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. This metal is worked and polished to become a strong blade with a curved profile in the traditional yatagan style, versatile and handy. The result is a pocket knife with a storied reputation, known for both its legendary sharpness and the simple yet innovative Virobloc safety ring which locks the blade in an open or closed position.
Little has changed since 1890. Rooted in history and a commitment to craftsmanship, Opinel is still following in Joseph’s footsteps 132 years later. Today, the Opinel line encompasses classic pocket knives, kitchen tools, table knives, gardening tools, and a new flatware collection.
As you move from your garden to the table, from the great outdoors to great meals with friends, let Opinel join you for good food, good company, and the adventures that await.
1890: At 18, Joseph Opinel goes to work in his family’s blacksmith shop in the little hamlet of Albiez-le-Vieux, and designs his first pocket knife. Though his father eschewed modern technology, Opinel embraced new machinery that allowed him to develop a knife that could be manufactured efficiently, making it affordable for the everyman.
1897: Building on the design of his first pocket knife, Opinel began making the knife in a range of sizes, ranging from the tiny No. 1 (designed to attach to a pocket watch) to the largest No. 12.
1911: Opinel exhibited his knives at the Alpine International Exhibition in Turin, where his range of pocket knives, pruning tools, corkscrews, scissors, and other tools took home the jury’s gold medal.
1915: Joseph Opinel moves his workshop from its original location in a remote mountain hamlet to nearby Chambery, where the brand remains headquartered today.
1955: Joseph’s son Marcel Opinel invents the Virobloc locking system, the first major change to the Opinel pocket knife’s design in 65 years. The Virobloc design allowed the knife to be locked in the open position, improving safety and function (and this design was modified again in the 1990s to allow the knife to be locked in the closed position).
1985: Largely unchanged for more than a century, the Opinel knife is a design icon. The Victoria and Albert Museum names the knife among the 100 most beautiful designs in the world, alongside the likes of Rolex and Porsche.
1989: Opinel lands in the French dictionary, recognized as a part of French cultural heritage with an instantly recognizable name.
Celebrate Opinel and East Fork This Spring
We're giving away the ultimate dinner set to one lucky winner. Giveaway bundle includes 4 East Fork dinner plates in a core glaze of your choice and a 16-piece Perpétue flatware set from Opinel.