Lalique, c’est magnifique
The decorative art brand branches out into home design
Photographs courtesy of Lalique and by Mary Shustack
The elevator door opens to allow a step into the light-filled space – and the fantasy begins.
The eyes dart to a sleek bar, its doors sporting crystal dragons. Frosted crystal elements hang artfully from a chandelier. Crystal twists frame a stately mirror. Carved panels add a majestic touch to a king-size bed’s headboard. There are glass-beaded pillows, one dotted with twin koi fish, another with a prancing horse.
The new Lalique Interiors Showroom in Manhattan is as far removed from an everyday shopping trip for home furnishing and accessories as can be imagined. Instead, it’s a visit to a world of Art Deco design, of frosted glass panels and the most intricate beading, of smooth finishes and stunning furniture artistry.
Recently, Lalique unveiled this new space, fashioned to resemble the most stylish of homes within the historic 19th-century building that also hosts the company’s headquarters on Manhattan’s lower Fifth Avenue.
The space was designed to showcase Lalique Maison, the new collection of Art Deco-inspired furniture and interior design accessories, including luxury linens. The new division of the brand so steeped in history is at once classic and cutting-edge and is the result of a groundbreaking collaboration between Lalique and international designers Lady Tina Green and Pietro Mingarelli.
With the work of master artist and designer René Lalique serving as inspiration, Green and Mingarelli were tapped for this teaming, one that has resulted in handcrafted work destined to become heirlooms.
Lalique Maison is a wonderland of credenzas and consoles, couches and tables, beds and chairs, humidors and jewelry boxes, cashmere throws and pillows. Throughout, there are swoon-worthy accents, from hand-embroidered glass beads replicating Lalique motifs, such as its signature swallows, to crystal insets in shapely chairs to frosted carved panels that add a delicate glow to the most unusual lamps.
This permanent showroom, by appointment only, is designed to reflect the possibilities the new collection brings to the market. With Lalique Maison, every piece is made to suit a customer’s wishes, with furniture handcrafted in Italy incorporating the crystal elements that are still made in Lalique’s French factory.
The collection is destined for the savvy shopper who recognizes the artistry behind, for example, a one-of-a-kind king-size bed, albeit one with a price tag in the mid-five figures.
The collection, which features pieces in black ebony, black lacquer, natural ebony and ivory ash, is indeed bringing Lalique to another plateau.
Maz Zouhairi, the president and CEO of Lalique, says that the showroom is the latest step for this collection, which got its start just two and half years ago.
“It’s not a very long time to be able to put all of this together,” he says.
But it was a significant and well-planned move.
“It was a part of a decision we made to really cement Lalique as a lifestyle brand,” he says, noting the company’s forays into segments that also include perfume, fine jewelry and art.
The “bespoke aspect,” Zouhairi adds, deserves the space he prefers to call a studio rather than showroom.
“It’s tough to convey this important category of our brand in a boutique,” he says. “We wanted a spot that gave us the identity, but also be private.”
After all, there is a lot to discuss when it comes to making a purchase, as designer Mingarelli says.
“We can do anything. We can start from the product that is there already and make it higher or wider…”
The design process, he says, is particularly rewarding as it offers infinite opportunities for creativity.
“We look at the pieces and say, ‘How can it work in a different way?’” he says. “Each piece is unique, handmade.”
The joy, he says, is working on something so special.
“It’s the history of Lalique and the quality. Everything is made in Italy. Everything is under our control. We design it, the construction … There is nothing like it.”
He is asked, having nurtured the collection to this point, if any piece has become a favorite.
And it’s not clear if it’s tact or simple truth when he quickly replies, with a smile, “I like all of them.”
Indeed, each piece stands on its own artistry.
Green says she and Mingarelli came to the attention of Lalique when the pair was working to outfit a yacht a few years back. It caught the eye of Silvio Denz, Lalique’s chairman, and that led to the new project.
Throughout, Green says she has been thrilled to be able to tap into “the wealth of history of René Lalique.
“How exciting is it for me? It blows my mind away,” she says.
And it’s also been a challenge.
“Some of his pieces are very strong,” she adds.
It’s one thing to enjoy Lalique’s designs in an academic sense, she says, but she and Mingarelli had to make them livable, to “integrate” them into contemporary design.
The numbered pieces, she says, will bring something new to the design world besides usefulness.
“It’s collectible,” Green says of Lalique Maison, adding that the Lalique name gives it extra cachet: “There’s nobody that touches it in that respect. People who know Lalique will know it instantly. This is very strong furniture.”
And it may also prove, she says, a most fashionable way for Lalique to continue meeting the evolving needs of today’s clients.
Indeed, a final glance at the room, where the crystals seem to dance in their new settings, proves what Green has said is more than true of the Lalique Maison collection.
“I think it lives in light.”