Jérôme de Lavergnolle, Président Directeur Général of Saint-Louis, explains how the French maison is illuminating the city with its vision of contemporary luxury.
Jérôme de Lavergnolle of Saint-Louis on how the maison illuminates the city with its vision of contemporary luxury
N ot many brands can boast more than four centuries of craftsmanship, but Saint-Louis, the beloved French purveyor of crystal – and dreams – has been crafting its world-renowned reputation since 1586. Its newly opened boutique in The Dubai Mall means guests can witness the past, present and future of the company’s exquisitely designed pieces – and even go on a virtual adventure!
“In Dubai, luxury doesn’t just mean owning a shining product; it should also reflect your own personality and taste which comes in the choice of your decoration – to have an interior that you cannot find anywhere else. We offer both,” says de Lavergnolle.
The 86-square metre boutique – which is shared with Puiforcat – glistens and shimmers with reflected light as it displays collections that are all bathed in a soft glow.
“The Dubai Mall is the perfect refined environment to host a crystal retail experience. Our new boutique showcases an array of iconic, timeless and contemporary items – from lighting, decoration and tableware to exceptional pieces. But above all, it will help develop indoor and B2B projects, as well as act as a potential showroom for architects and interior designers/decorators,” de Lavergnolle continues.
Proudly wearing the hard-earned, competitive title of ‘ Meilleurs Ouvriers de France’, Saint-Louis crystal is mouth-blown, hand-cut,hand-engraved and hand-decorated using 24-karat gold or platinum.
In 1767, Louis XV allowed the construction of a glassware manufacturing facility on the location of the previous Müntzthal glassware workshops of the 16th century. The king conferred the title of Royal Glassware of Saint-Louis to it and, 15 years later, with the development of the manufacturing formula of crystal, the manufacturer became the Royal Cristallerie of Saint-Louis.
During the early 20th century, between Art Nouveau and Art Deco, external designers brought their talents to bear at the company, including artists Paul Nicolas, Jean Sala, Jean Luce, Michel Colle and Maurice Dufrêne, to name but a few.
“We are truly a manufacturer of our time, a blend of tradition and innovation. Creativity, art and design alongside 430 years of irreplaceable know-how heritage: this is what we are about. The crystal material and the craftsmen behind the creation of the final product are part of the beauty of the design. The fact that all our objects are hand-made offers unlimited potential for creativity and originality.”
Although the brand’s dedication to craftsmanship is virtually unsurpassed, this
doesn’t mean it is unable to provide some captivating surprises.
“One fact that may surprise clients is to know that our red crystal colour is produced using 24-karat gold. Colours are one of our specialities; and while the ratio of raw materials, the temperatures and the melting times are kept secret, it is the addition of different metal oxides for each colour that is the key,” explains de Lavergnolle.
And few are aware that Saint-Louis is the only French crystal manufacturer to offer the possibility for people to see its artisans in action by visiting its workshops – in person or via a hightech virtual trip.
“We know travelling to Saint-Louis-Lès-Bitche is not feasible for everyone, and that is part of the reason why we started to play with virtual reality,” he says excitedly. “By putting on a mask you are transported to the heart of the manufacturing, right in the middle of the production; you feel like you are part of the craftsmen’s team. We are trying to give access to that incredible experience in as many places around the world as we can.”
But don’t let the brand’s extensive history fool you. The company has always had its eyes fixed on the future. Today its tableware, decorative object and lighting collections have again made history by featuring the work of some of the world’s top creators, such as Eric Gizard, Hervé Van der Straeten, Ionna Vautrin, José Lévy, Kiki van Eijk, Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance and Paola Navone.
“Our exceptional know-how, heritage and creativity is an incredible source of inspiration for all the contemporary designers we have worked with, and for those with whom we continue to work,” de Lavergnolle says.
“Inviting designers and artists into our manufacture has always been an incredible spur for giving birth to new creations, reinventing classics, building a new lifestyle and imaging our future. For example, it was while looking at the huge supply of moulds in our warehouse that Kiki van Eijk had one of her sure-fire flashes of inspiration and made Saint-Louis’ Matrice crystal lamp from the shape of a mould,” he recalls.
“Creativity, art and design alongside 430 years of know-how heritage: this is what Saint-Louis is about.” - Jérôme de Lavergnolle
Two collections come to mind for de Lavergnolle when he looks to identify the dramatic and imaginative visions for the brand’s contemporary pieces.
“Les Endiablés is an astounding and explosive combination of parisons, created by José Lévy, which results in a range of objects that are as stunning upside-down as they are standing right-side up. According to your wishes, they can be just as easily used as a glass, a vase, a night light or a holder for bits and bobs,” he says.
The second, the Folia collection, is an interpretation of nature that highlights the company’s dedication to working with the best and most diverse materials possible.
“All of the pieces in the cross-disciplinary Folia collection echo the forest surrounding the manufacturer. It was there that Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance found his inspiration, and he decided to combine the radiance of crystal with the strength of ash wood. He interpreted the cut of crystal as a decorative expression of geometric and organic shapes. Folia is a tribute to the leaves of the Moselle forest and an ode to creative folly.” As always, we look forward to this special brand’s next vision of natural beauty.
Folia by Noé Duchaufour Lawrance
Matrice floor lamp by Kiki van Eijk
Folia footed lamp by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance
Les Endiablés Stella glass