Pébéo: The History of the Brand

Pébéo was originally a chemical company, PbO, founded in 1919 and based on the outskirts of Marseille. PbO is the chemical formula for a lead protoxide which was originally used as a base for pigments.

Claudius Chaveau was a young Chemical Engineer who joined the company in 1922, and soon rose to become the General Manager. Chaveau was originated from Lyon, born into a family of silk makers. After training as a weaver, he obtained a grant to study chemistry.

At the beginning of the 1930’s the company introduced new manufacturing processes that allowed Claudius Chaveau to obviate the use of lead, and avoid the volatility of market speculation. Both curious and pragmatic, Chaveau was motivated to look into the use of powder colours for commercial signage. The PbO laboratory began to deleop ready to use colours using oil as a medium, with early tests proving to be a success.

In the 1930s, paint brands were a thing of rarity. It was commonplace for artists to prepare their own colours from raw materials, which was a long and difficult process. By 1934, ready-to-use colour was produced, revolutionising the process of art making.

Chaveau always tried his best to keep close to his customers in order to meet their needs. As organic pigments began to take of, he knew that it was essential to master the creation of these organically pigmented paints to ensure the future of the company. In 1935, Robert Chaveau was born into a world of colour, and eventually began helping his father at the age of 8.

After the war, Pébéo developed a new colour range for schools. Months after launching these paint cakes, the paint tube was launched to immediate acclaim.

The company grew steadily in popularity and acclaim over the following years. In the 1970’s, Robert Chaveau’s son Eric took charge of the development of the export business to expand the already regular business within neighbouring countries. Around this time, Pébéo launched the first French-made acrylic, which was a great success.

In recent years, dishwasher resistant glass and china paints, oil based markers, dual pigmented acrylics, textile finger paints- are just a few. The Pébéo lab never sleeps, and there is always something new and exciting underway!

Pébéo product is now used worldwide by a vast variety of artists and crafts people, with the development of mixed media product allowing previously unconnected products to interact. These products encourage artists, professional or amateur, to experiment with techniques and dare to bend or break the rules set by the hands of masters.

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