Design & Decoration S01 ep13: Christian Blaenckart, St. Louis Crystal Glass, [Paris]
Interview with Christian Blaenckart
How do they make the glass objects? I don't know. I can explain it to you in terms of profit but I don't know the magic of it.
St Louis is the most beautiful crystal in the world. St. Louis is an incredible
factory in the east of France in Mosel. St Louis is in the area Bische and it is
called St.Louis Bische where there is a village where you have Crytallerie
Royal. It was a royal Crystallarie a long time ago St. Louis was born in 16
something so it a very old company.
KM: Why was it born and why was it born in this little village?
Because the area where we are is the crystal area in Europe; the water is pure
because they used to have a lot of wood that was needed for the ovens
because at the time they had no electricity. So in order to make the heat
required for the furnace to function (there are plenty of trees in the area) they
chopped down the trees, giving them fuel to run the furnace and manufacture
the glass. In France in this area there is a crystal religion, a crystal culture.
KM: What do you mean by this?
By this I mean that the people had been in the service of the king making
crystal and in those days it was known as Crystallerie Royale d' St.Louis.
I have two managerial responsibilities one is with Hermes being the CEO of
Hermes Selliers, which is the no. 1 of the Hermes group, and I am in charge of
the French market and I am also the CEO of Crystal St.Louis with a managing
director who is managing the day-to-day business. Jean Louis Dumas is the
chairman of the Hermes Group.
St.Louis has a history based on the Savoire Faire on the method of the
extraordinary qualified and there is a haven a central haven where you have
the gesture of the people which has never changed. They make crystal by
There is a magic in St.Louis. There are many things we don't know, we don’t
know exactly why they are there, we don't know if the water contains
something unique, but what we do know is that it is a mixture of heat, of magic
and of life.
It is not a factory put into a place, it is a village, which includes a
manufacturing concern - not a factory - it is a manufacture. It is very special, it
is like the last of the Mohicans.
KM: Yes, but why? Explain to me why because you haven't...
It is the last of the Mohicans because they manufacture an excellent crystal
and if the Hermes group was not behind it of course it would not exist.
It is old economy and it is unique in excellence, which we believe is the heart
of the future. It has nothing to do with a mould; it is not a place for an investor
who wants to make money quickly. It is a place for people like us who think
that savoie faire, artisans, are the essence of the future.
In real terms when you have a table, either for you or for your friends, for
either two people or for 100 people you express your own talent ....
KM: How expensive is it compared to.....
Glass from St.Louis is much more expensive than any other glass - one glass
starts at $200.00 and can go up to $400.00 per glass - it is possible. If it is
coloured or has gold inlay it can be even more.
The philosophy of the Crystal St.Louis is clearly to maintain a standard of
excellence, which is not easy to reach because it is a result of the day-to-day
effort of a step-by-step process. It starts with the design, drawing and it ends
with a result that has gone through a lot of procedures and movement and
reflections and thinking and the result of it is an object, which is on the table or
where ever you like to place it. It is a glass, when you take the glass and look
at it, you see crystal clear colour or not colour. This is exactly what we are
trying to do is to bring the modernity of products through excellence of
KM: How are you involved in the creation of St.Louis or who is the actual
Jean Louis Dumas is the creator of St.Louis he is the artistic director of the
whole group, therefore he is not only involved but he decides about the
creations for St.Louis, with other colleagues and other designers.
KM: But that is unusual because in most other groups, each person in different
companies has his own autonomy and they do this and they do that.
In the Hermes group Jean Louis Dumas is the artistic director
KM: Full stop!
KM: In other words he is on top of absolutely everything?
Yes, but he is not alone he has other people working with him.
KM: Jean Louis told me at the EDC Function the other week, he said to me
because I asked him why was he involved in these companies, he said to me,
each one is strategic because it gives us technology that we need at Hermes.
What is the philosophy, what is the strategy?
Well I think that is very true, Each one is .... I mean this is a very puzzling
question I think that the essence of this group, is really based on respect,
respect of culture and no one can grow tomorrow without various experiences,
various information. We have information from St. Louis, that is very precious,
we have information from Hermes, in all the different areas which are so
numerous at least 14, so we try to grasp every savoire faire - savoire faire by
definition is a 'secret'. Savoire means knowledge, faire means doing. So the
knowledge of doing - expertise, gesture, savoie faire is more than that it is the
spirit also. Savoie faire is an ancestral and traditional gesture; it is also a
unique way of doing things.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Christian Blaenckart, St. Louis Crystal Glass, Paris