Joseph Opinel manufactured the first Opinel knives from a small family workshop in Abiez-Le-Vieux, a small village near Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in Savoie, France, and in 1897 the classic Opinel series 1-12 was developed. This included the classic Opinel numbers six and seven which have barely changed and are still loved in their original form to this day.
Several years later Joseph Opinel built his first factory at Pont de Gevoudaz, and developed a machine to make the wooden handles, primarily using beach and olive wood. In 1911, Opinel won the gold medal at the Alpine International Exhibition in Turin, Italy. Between 1914 and 1920 the company expanded and began mass production, aided by Joseph’s two sons, Marcel and Leon. The safety ring was invented in 1955, greatly improving the functionality of the knife.
In 1985, Opinel found recognition when it was featured at the Victoria and Albert Museum
among the 100 best designs in the world, alongside the Porsche 911 and the Rolex watch.
The word ‘Opinel’ was entered in the Larousse dictionary as a registered trademark and
became a household name in France. In 2006 Opinel was recognised by a panel of
international designers in Phaidon Design Classics as one of the 999 most successful designs of all time.
Opinel, making the classic Opinel knife in France since 1897.