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Man of Steel

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The types of jobs that foreigners in China choose range from the bizarre to the boring. However, it’s not often one comes across a Blacksmith. Having lived in Beijing for around five years, Blacksmith Atelier Pyr has built an impressive reputation with his company, Beijing Quanhong Art Trade Limited. MetroStyle met with Beijing’s very own ‘Man of Steel’ to find out more about why he does what he does.

Ask most people where they like to hang out, and they’ll more than likely say they enjoy spending time at cafes, bars, or clubs. But not Pyr, who tells us that his career as a blacksmith sprung from time he spent “hanging out” at a blacksmiths in the early 2000’s. His passion for what he does is evident, as he discusses what sparked his fascination for the job that he has now made into a successful career in Beijing. “Most people are interested in the forge, because they want to make knives. But for me, it was always about the fire and the anvil”.

Pyr decided to turn his love of the fire and anvil into a living. He took a course in blacksmithing at Le Havre in France. Later, continuing his love affair in a workshop in Lyon making fully traditional ironworks in French style, such as Louis XIV, Louis XVI, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco.”

Years later, the passionate Frenchman found himself packing his bags to move to Beijing. “I didn’t plan Beijing”, he says. “I followed a girl. I first came to see Beijing and see whether I could find a job here. I didn’t have the idea of creating my own workshop at that time, but later I realized that if I wanted to stay a while in China and keep doing my job, I’d have to create my own shop. The girl’s not here anymore, but the workshop still is.”

Blacksmithing is a career many tend to think of as traditional and no longer a trade many will pursue. But as Pyr explains, while fewer and fewer are entering the trade, it has enabled people like him to gain a niche market – so long as the blacksmith is willing to move with the times. “When you’re in this trade, you always have to remind people that you still exist. You have to create the demand in a way.” Pyr has made the trade work for him, thanks to his focus on design innovation and diversity.

As well as being commissioned to work on pieces for bars, hotels, he has also made a name for himself amongst China’s growing trend-conscious nouveau riches, who are falling over themselves for his high quality creations, from chandeliers, sculptures, jewellery and decorative knives. However, if you’re ever in need of a piece of the more unusual variety, rest assured that Pyr will not be shy in rising to the challenge. When asked what the most unusual project he has been commissioned to work on so far, he says, “an S&M cage.”

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