Conversations in Craftmanship: Lalique

By Oliver Burns

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May 28, 2021|Luxury Insight

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  • n our fascinating new series ‘Conversations in Craftmanship’, we will be showcasing the work of our favourite artisans and reveal the high level of skill and craftmanship that goes into creating their designs. In this second edition, we speak to Frederick Fischer, the UK Managing Director of Lalique. An iconic symbol of French luxury, Lalique was founded by glassmaker and jeweller René Lalique in 1888. Fischer shares with us his favourite pieces, what he loves most about working with crystal as a material and how Lalique are continuously able to innovate whilst staying true to their heritage.

Frederick Fischer, UK Managing Director of Lalique. Image via Lalique.

What values does Lalique represent as a company?

Lalique is renowned worldwide as a luxury brand – it is perhaps less well known that behind the name is a family of artists. René Lalique, our founding father, was one of the great creative forces of French decorative art in the 19th and 20th centuries. His work was inspired by the natural world – flora, fauna and femme – still major inspirations for the house today. René was followed by his son Marc who was responsible for the move from glass to crystal in the early 1950s and granddaughter, Marie-Claude who was the last surviving member of the Lalique family.

In 2008, Lalique was acquired by Swiss entrepreneur, Silvio Denz and today the house operates in six major areas: decorative objects, interior design, jewellery, perfumes, hospitality and art. Recognised today as an Enterprise du Patrimoine Vivant (a living heritage enterprise), Lalique is constantly reinventing itself to express its artistic individuality.

'Still Water' clear crystal sculpture by Lalique and Nic Fiddian Green. Image via Lalique.

"The Lalique touch – the highly sculptural, artistic aspect of our work – can only be achieved by hand."

Lalique has an incredibly rich heritage. How do you continue to innovate but still stay true to the history of René Lalique’s original vision?

Our creative director, Marc Larminaux and his Paris based team continue to push the boundaries both in materiality and creative processes – inspired by Lalique’s rich heritage and taking the latest technologies, borrowing from other industries and binding them with our know-how. This progress in the digital field, which enables us to develop increasingly complex projects, does not deprive us of the touch and sensibility of manual work. The Lalique touch – the highly sculptural, artistic aspect of our work – can only be achieved by hand.

We also collaborate with some of the most exciting, talented artists, luxury brands, architects and designers of the day – Steinway & Sons, The Macallan, Zaha Hadid, Mario Botta, Damien Hirst, Arik Levy and Nic Fiddian Green – who add a different dimension and dynamic.

Joueur de Pipeau left panel mirrored and framed. Image via Lalique.

Lalique’s iconic designs are crafted from crystal. What do you love about this material and what are the challenges of working with it?

Crystal is the perfect material for interior design – whether in panels, decorative items or furniture – it acts as a reflector of light and can work both in contemporary and traditional interiors. Our unique satin and polished crystal surfaces add depth and brilliance. It is extremely hard to work with and demand perfection – many pieces are lost in the making process. Each stage in Lalique’s production is intricate, by hand and highly skilled.

The Lalique Boutique at Burlington Arcade, London. Image via West End London.

The past year has seen many of us re-evaluate areas of our lives and homes. How has the pandemic impacted the tastes and requirements of your customers, if at all?

Lalique has always had wide appeal and our client base is global. In London alone we have three stores: Burlington Arcade, Conduit Street and Harrods. We touch many tastes, ages and demographics. I would say the tastes have not changed as such but we many people who had long wanted a piece of Lalique decided it was now the time to have it – sensuality, interiors and home is more important than ever.

Merles et Raisins large vase. Image via Lalique.

We would love to know more about the inspiration and craftsmanship behind your beautiful new ‘Gaïa by Lalique’ collectionand any other exciting collaborations you have coming up.

Gaïa the new collection for Spring Summer pays homage to Mother Earth. Generous and nurturing, Gaïa is the goddess of Earth in Greek mythology. We have borrowed from the Lalique archives for the Merles & Raisins large and medium vases – in 1928, René  Lalique designed the Merles & Raisins decorative panels, originally in pressed glass on a silver background to adorn the Cuban mahogany woodwork of the legendary Orient Express. The heritage of the house comes to life in new contemporary shapes. Blackbirds with finely chiselled plumage indulge in an abundance of sweet grapes while vines create an exceptional rhythm to create a perfectly balanced composition. The new vases are available in three colours – clear, amber, black.

We also have a new decanter – the Versailles inspired by the vase of the same name designed by René Lalique in 1939.

The ‘piece de resistance’ of the Spring Summer collection is the Mures or Blackberries vase – generously patterned and detailed in satin finished crystal in fuchsia or black to resemble the blackberry – limited to 188 pieces – it is a statement piece nearly 20 inches high.

Pierre Yves-Rochon, the legendary Parisian interior designer has enhanced his Signature ‘Perles’ lighting collection creating new pieces – a wall sconce, candles and revised chandelier inspired by an original light designed by René Lalique. Graphic and elegant the Perles chandelier is available in one or three tier with 40 candles or less and uses the latest LED technology.

We are very excited to announce a new collaboration with the British artist, Nic Fiddian-Green – Still Water. Nic Fiddian-Green is one of the world’s leading equine artists and is probably best known in the UK for the iconic 10 metre high bronze horse head sculpture at Marble Arch.  Fiddian-Green has a global following. The collaboration came about as the artist had always wanted to work with crystal glass – with a shared love of nature and craftsmanship – Lalique was the perfect partner.  There are three lost wax art editions in the collection limited to just 12 worldwide in clear, black and amber crystal and three further editions in moulded crystal priced from £1700 in clear, black and amber crystal standing at 24cm in height.

Lalique's 'Languedoc' vase in deep green crystal on display in our Brummell Penthouse at Beau House. Image via Oliver Burns.

What is your favourite piece by Lalique and why?

There are too many to mention! Our relationship with Zaha Hadid was a long one – cut short – her work translated well into crystal in deep blues and undulating lines. Classic Lalique pieces such as the Mossi Vase, Bacchantes and Languedoc in deep green crystal are hard to beat but I do have a soft spot for the cactus table which is soon to be released in coffee table size – a very clever move.

Lalique and Pierre Yves Rochon Roses Pedestal table. Image via Lalique.

"Lalique has timeless appeal and many see it as the symbol of classic French luxury".

What makes Lalique’s decorative objects so unique and special in a highly competitive market?

Our artistic heritage, creative flair and expert craftspeople. The Lalique factory will celebrate 100 years next year. Based in Alsace – a region of France that has the strongest glassmaking traditions. Our craftsmen and women create pieces of exceptional quality – by hand – the result of years of ‘know-how’.

Many of our craftspeople hold the title ‘best craftsmen in France’ and of this we are hugely proud. The melting process can reach 1,400 degrees centigrade and the molten crystal is captured and manipulated using a variety of techniques. Some large or artistic pieces need to be manufactured with the ‘lost wax’ technique – used by René Lalique until 1930. In the cold glass workshops a piece will undergo a succession of manual operations – this is characteristic of Lalique and is around 2/3 of the making process – the result of extreme attention to detail, finishing and to the sculpture of each creation.

Lalique has timeless appeal and many see it as the symbol of classic French luxury – a lifestyle brand. We will shortly be opening a new restaurant at The Glenturret – Scotland’s oldest distillery – as well as a boutique. Lalique never stands still – we constantly innovate.

Lalique's Double Fish Sculpture on display in the master suite of our Regent's Park Townhouse. Image via Oliver Burns.

What is your approach to sustainability?

It is something we are constantly working on with all our channels and the factory to find new and better ways to produce and progress. We create pieces to last many lifetimes – heirlooms that will be treasured.

Brushed brass taps with Lalique crystal detailing in our Belgravia Townhouse master suite. Image via Oliver Burns.

Lastly, if you could describe Lalique’s aesthetic in three words, what would they be?

Luminous, elegant, timeless.


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