Crys­tal clear

Jérôme de Lavergnolle, Prési­dent Directeur Général of Saint-Louis, ex­plains how the French mai­son is il­lu­mi­nat­ing the city with its vi­sion of con­tem­po­rary lux­ury.

Identity - - CONTENTS - TEXT: JOANNE MOLINA

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

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