It’s Daum time

145 years after it was established in France, the ultra luxury crystal maker arrives in Manila

At a glance

  • Brami discusses how legendary brands like Daum fare in the market, how they’re positioning themselves in the modern world, and why they’re here in the Philippines.

Featured image: DAUM BEST CEO Benjamin Brami will bring the luxury French brand to the Philippines this year

It’s not an exaggeration to say that French crystal maker Daum is one of a kind. All companies tell you their products are unique, unmatched, special. But Daum, literally, is sui generis. You have beautiful crystals, which fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars in the market, and then you have Daum, which is made with a technique so precise and complex no one has been able to copy it in the past century.

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Golden carps

“Daum crystals today are made the same way they were made 100 years ago,” BenjaminBrami, who has been CEO of the brand in the past two years, tells Manila Bulletin on his recent visit to Manila for a very short but productive trip to meet withRustan’s executives to finalize bringing the storied French brand to the country later this year. “Daum has a range and a portfolio of 50 different colors. Our brand is the only one that can mix these colors. The other brands, they may be beautiful, and they have white, red, blue, orange, but that’s it, that’s their range. Our competitors, when a crystal goes out of the oven, they put it in iron to shape it, and the pieces you buy in one country and the pieces you buy in another country are exactly the same. In Daum, you will have a unique piece because of our process.”

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Infini white centerpiece

The process is called pate de varre, which is an incredibly labor-intensive art involving “lost-wax molding and vitrifying coarse grains of 30 percent lead crystal at a heat of 9000C for up to 20 days.”  Brami is heading the brand at a critical time in the brand’s history—an economy rocked by the pandemic; a world that’s caught in a crossfire between countries trying to re-draw their territories; at a time when a new set of wealthy, young clients are turning into technology and minimalism and even prioritizing experiences over purchases.

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Horse head sculpture

In a short chat, Brami discusses how legendary brands like Daum fare in the market, how they’re positioning themselves in the modern world, and why they’re here in the Philippines.

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Gold large vase

What made you decide to enter the Philippine market?

This country is on top of the Asian market, and the Asian market is growing for us. We think the Rustan group is for sure the only one to represent us correctly. Ms. Nedy Tantoco knows her brands, she’s collected Daum pieces, and appreciates the know-how of Daum. How our brand fares in each country also depends on geopolitics—when there are big movements, things change. Russia used to be a big market, but due to our embargo, we are not able to sell to them. Middle East, Europe, are historical top markets, now Asian market is growing a lot. It’s now in our top three markets, so we need to develop it.
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Hibiscus vase

How is business after Covid?

We had an amazing rise in sales after Covid. In the bad days, with the hospitality industry closed, of course sales decreased. In 2021, I said I wanted to retrieve the sales of 2019. They said I was crazy. It will take time. In fact, we made eight percent increase from 2019. In 2022, I planned to enter a double growth of our company in the next five years. It would mean we grow around 20 percent each year, but by 2022, we grew 25 to 28 percent. And right now, we’ve already reached 60 percent of our target.
Clair de lune soup tureen

And you are seeing this growth from the end user market, and not the B2B market?

Daum is 90 to 95 percent final customer. For example, when the Royal Family want to decorate their place. We have three flagship boutiques in France, US, and in Asia wherepeople buy our items. For Haviland, 90 percent of the business comes from B2B—hospitality. Hospitality used to be a major market for us, as we have been a partner of the Ritz in Paris, the Dorchester in London, and we carry the license of Shangri La. When there was a renovation of the Ritz, our saleswas raised 30 percent, but if you don’t have those big projects in hospitality, it would be down a little bit. We are still making new projects, for example, we have project with St. Regis in Macau, and we worked on the World Cup Fifa in Qatar, in Plaza Vendome in Qatar. Our goal is to create more brand awareness for the end user, the final customer.
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Alain thomas place setting

What are the challenges you envision for the company?

You have to get the rhythm of the market, you have to get the designers to express themselves, and you have to market correctly your product. If you can make those three things come together, you’ll come into success. But what is most important for me is to develop the know-how of our manufacturing. We will be nothing without our employees. I will not be able to do what they do. In the past decade, it was different—people come in, and just leave. Accountancy you can learn. But making beautiful pieces, having the ability to manufacture them is something I will never be successful at. In our family, we are very close to our workers. On Christmas Day, we meet their families and we give them gifts—we want to keep it in their minds that this is really a family business. There is no university that can teach you the ability to make our product.



How is the brand evolving?

We went from making and designing from the DNA of Daum, to moving and matching the needs of our market. We have to understand that not all our products can be a success in each market. For example, the Middle East loves amber, blue, green. Here in Asia, they love amber, green, but they don’t like white. In Haviland, some markets will love certain collections. So we try to do collections that different markets will love.

The young ultra-wealthy people now, like Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, claim to live simple lives, and even say they sleep on beds on their floors. And then there are the young rich Millennials who say they would rather spend on experiences than money. How will Daum approach this new generation of wealthy individuals?

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Amber tiger

Those kind of people are interesting, but if you think about it, where do they go? They go to hotels and restaurants where they can hide from people. And when they go to these luxurious places, they’ll see our pieces. You have to enter the world, and that’s why we’re also trying to develop NFT, we are working with certificates of authenticity not in paper but linked to NFT, linked to block chain. We collaborate with artists that the young set like. They show off our projects and that’s a way to enter the Millennial market.

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Ultraviolet bowl

If they don’t come to you, you have to go to them but in a subtler way. We have augmented reality, in our website they can see this two-meter peacock made of crystals, 300 kilos heavy, and you can see it from all angles. Customers come and they can use AR to imagine a piece in their homes. They can show it to their wives or their friends or their decorators and ask, “Will this fit into my home? Does this fit with my carpet?” We are giving them the experience in their world.

Will a venerable brand like yours work with influencers?

I respect their jobs, but for Haviland main influencer is the chef. Say you go to Paris and you go to a restaurant that’s beautiful, and you’d want the same kind of items. This kind of space is good for us. The Kardashians may not be the influencers we need, but they have a taste for our products. I know because my wife follows them. Inside the house of Kris Jenner, there’s a lot of Haviland. She has a space to showcase her porcelain. But no, we don’t send out products to influencers. This may not a good way for us, as we are 150 years old and we cannot just fit into trends of five years.