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Born in 1860 as KŁhn, SonjaQuandt is a silver manufacturer steeped in tradition, and a favourite in luxury hospitality, with a reputation that extends far beyond Germany's borders.


Born in 1860 as KŁhn, SonjaQuandt is a silver manufacturer steeped in tradition, and a favourite in luxury hospitality, with a reputation that extends far beyond Germany's borders.

Category: Worldwide - Suppliers - Providers - Interviews
Interview made by Sonia Taourghi on 2024-04-18

Sonja Quandt, Founder SonjaQuandt Silver Manufacturer

Sonja Quandt, Founder of SonjaQuandt Silver manufactory
Photo credit © SonjaQuandt Silber Manufaktur

Silverware has always been synonym of elegance, luxury and the sign of a special moment to be shared. That's what Sonja Quandt, founder of the eponymous brand, wishes her clients are experiencing with her products.
With roots dated back to 1860 and Gebrüder Kühn who settled as a gold- and silver smith manufacturer in Schwäbisch Gmünd, SonjaQuandt silver manufactory has a long history of craftsmanship.

It was originally a family business that gained momentum from the early 1900 recognised at the Paris World fair, later going on to winning the Grand Prix at the International World Expo in Turin. This marked the beginning of its international recognition, spreading the family heritage beyond the German borders. With now over 150 years of excellence in silverware, the company is renowned for the quality and attention to detail that go in every single piece.

It is therefore not surprising to find the company silverware in properties ran by Fairmont, Ritz Carlton, Kempinski, and many independent gastronomic restaurants
. Forty years, after taking over the manufactory, and giving it her name in 2014, Sonja Quandt shares a bit of her own personal journey with us, and explain how the brand maintains its success.

Journal des Palaces: What are the key milestones in the SonjaQuandt brand history?

Sonja Quandt: It was founded by Johann Stanislaus Nepomuk Kühn in 1860, so that will have been the first milestone. His two sons then took over the company and named it “Gebrüder Kühn”, to represent their brotherhood.
They led their manufactory on two paths, automotive accessories and silver tableware until 1984, which was when I joined the manufactory to fulfil my passion of craftsmanship.

After 1984, there were some key milestones in product development. To appeal to the younger generation, we developed a more affordable version of our product: glass with silver. Our glass with silver products are, to this day, popular, and something for everyone. Later we introduced silver cutlery by Gebr. Kühn to the market, which was warmly accepted.
In 2014, I decided to give Gebr. Kühn my name, so it became SonjaQuandt Silber Manufaktur. Since then, the brand SonjaQuandt Silber has been gaining popularity and prestige under my name.

Which three words would you use to define the brand?

Passion, craftsmanship and tradition.

How did you personally start in the silverware business? And what keeps you passionate about it?

This is not a well-known fact, but I learned the profession of gold and silversmith when I was young, and so my passion for silver and valuable metals runs deep. My mother and I ran a jewellery together until it was time for me to begin my own path.
In the 1970s, I owned a small silver retail shop in Hannover and applied what I had learnt from my mother. While it brought me closer to my passion, an insatiable desire for more burned within me.
The allure of silver, with its shimmering elegance and intricate craftsmanship, stirred a relentless ambition within my soul. In 1984, fuelled by this passion, I seized the opportunity to take over the ownership of Gebr. Kühn, driven by an unwavering commitment to elevate the artistry and meaning of silver to new heights.
Silver items have meaning. I love giving things meaning and believe, special moments should be cherished forever. Silver’s long-lasting value helps preserve these ever so special memories and moments in people’s minds, and I want to be a part of that.

Who are your clients? What's the distribution between private customers and professional ones?

​​Until recently, our clientele primarily consisted of retailers, hotels, and other businesses in the gastronomy sector. However, with the opening of our online store, we've forged a closer bond with the public, bringing silver to everyone and to every doorstep.
The idea behind the online shop was to make our products available for everyone. Every person should be able to have the luxury of silver cutlery and other products. Today, our online presence boasts a comfortable following on social media, facilitating seamless distribution of our products to private customers.

Yet, our commitment to professional clients remains unwavering. We continue to collaborate closely with esteemed partners in the hospitality industry, including hotels and restaurants, while also venturing into new realms such as yacht and interior design. These ventures into larger-scale projects ignite our passion, offering a thrilling opportunity to showcase the breadth of our capabilities. From outfitting exclusive hotels and restaurants to adorning private jets, we relish the chance to elevate spaces with our exquisite craftsmanship.

Can you tell us more about your collaborations with luxury hotels and gastronomic restaurants?

As the significance of food continues to evolve, so does the importance of its presentation. This means we also cater to the growing trend of elevating dining experiences with exquisite presentation. We offer special serving platters and gourmet presentation with silver details, a popular choice in luxury hotels and high-end restaurants.

With food increasingly becoming an art form, we collaborate closely with restaurants to create exceptional dining experiences for their patrons. We provide a range of stunning presentation platters and trays to enhance the visual appeal of every dish.

In our commitment to supporting the next generation of culinary talents, we draw inspiration from new competitions such as Bocuse d’Or. We are proud sponsors of the Bocuse d’Or Germany competition, providing the winner with a bespoke presentation tray crafted in collaboration with us each year.

How do you innovate, in terms of products and services, and maintain the level of craftsmanship?

All our silversmiths are trained well and taught the ways of SonjaQuandt Silver. We have a large focus on tradition and craftsmanship, which all rely on a type of passion for the craft – we all have it.

Innovation is also crucial to our growth and relevance in the market. We actively seek inspiration from exhibitions and, most importantly, from our customers. Their feedback and evolving needs drive our innovation process, inspiring us to create new designs, explore new techniques, and expand our range of services.

To ensure the highest quality standards and our exquisite precision, each product goes through rigorous quality control and testing before it is accepted as finished.

How do you manage your recruitment needs and promote this ancestral craft to the younger generation?

Silversmithing is indeed not the most popular craft nowadays, however our recruitment team always manages to find the best people for the job – they look in unconventional places. Countries with a history of craftsmanship have been past sources of inspiration for our techniques and are where we have met some brilliant silversmiths.

Some of the traditional techniques which were used when the manufactory was founded are still in use today – we teach them to each other and train students in the craft. To keep the trade alive, we work with universities and schools in the area and the mayor of Schwäbisch Gmünd - a city with a long history in the silver trade.

What is your absolute favourite product, and why?

To answer this question, I would have to decide between two types of products. We have a range of products which are open to the public and sold regularly. In addition to that, we also produce special items, which are always unique and one-of-a-kind.
My favourite unique product must be the bowl we developed last year, which is made of onyx stone and sits on a silver foot. It embodies the elegance of nature in the way the stone is formed and has a beautiful turquoise colour. In addition, I know this bowl only exists once and know just how special that makes it.

I have a strong connection to our children’s collection, as I also have a strong connection to my children and grandchildren. In this collection, we have several products, and my personal favourite is the children’s rattle “teddy”, which has a handle. Silver is antibacterial and naturally cool, so I love the idea of this natural material being close to children and being a meaningful first gift.

Tartare Tray GRILL Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten

Tartare Tray for GRILL at Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten
Photo credit © SonjaQuandt Silbermanufaktur

Service Tray for Nagaya, Michelin Restaurant - DŁsseldorf, Germany
Photo credit © SonjaQuandt Silbermanufaktur

Hand crafted products - SonjaQuandt Manufactory
Photo credit © SonjaQuandt Silbermanufaktur

About the author

A lover of human interactions, Sonia started her journalism career in various media outlets before moving to London and shifting to the digital industry. Listening to her calling, she's picking up her pen to share the passion and ambitions of luxury hospitality.

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