Design & Decoration S01 ep15: Henri De Quatrebarbes, Daum Glass & Crystal, [Paris]
Interview with Henri De Quatrebarbes
It is very difficult to work with an artist who has very strong feelings because a good artist wants to try everything and I remember when we were working with Cesar he was asking so many things that he was just disrupting everything.
Daum started in 1878 in Nancy, which is in the east of France. At that time
there were two categories of crystal or glass makers as the big old factories
and a few of them, let us call them studios, in a number parts of France and at
the very beginning he didn't even started with what we call Art Nouveau he
started with other kinds of stuff.
You know the mood, it was the end of the century we were just our first war
between Germany and France and you know it was this kind of period where
industrialisation was growing and people were just more and more reacting
towards this tendency and this is how Art Nouveau started.
Daum has always been presenting pieces you know liked to the expression of
nature - very few brands have as much involvement in creation as Daum. I
would even say that it looks a little bit like an artist. An artist when he creates,
when he paints, when he makes sculpture - he hasn't really the choice what he
is doing. He is obliged to work in a certain direction because its own feeling
obliged us. We have to cope with a number of realities - industrial realities,
commercial realities but basically you know the real basic line which is behind
everything has to be linked with what Daum is.
KM: Why are you playing with Glass and Crystal?
That is the history of love,
KM: When did you start with Daum?
Four years ago.
KM: What have you done with Daum, what has been your strategy?
Daum at the time was very, very innovative but in a number of directions,
which were not fully linked with Daum and also not fully linked to the customer
needs. We have some pieces which should be seen as sculptures and we
have a specific department which is called "Edition D'art" which is composed of
pieces developed with external artists which we have been working, we have
worked with Dali, with Armor or Cezar or Cezanne
KM: What is the fascination of Crystal and Glass?
Crystal and Glass you have a wonderful and lovely material - you get some
transparencies, some you know our Pate de Verre which is crystal but
recooked. You prepare first the crystal like normal and then you put it to once
again in a specific mode and then that is crystal which has specific colours,
specific brightness, specific transparencies, specific bubbles you can you know
make more bubbles, less bubbles depending on what kind of colour we are
doing so a Pate de Verre piece as far as we are concerned is very fascinating.
KM: How do you make crystal?
Crystal first is made in the traditional way which is you have a specific mix of a
number of materials which is basically two things, sand that is very specific
sand which is our own sand and it is not the same sand as any other crystal
maker – we are very proud of it, we won’t tell you where we get it from.
KM: I know it is the Bahamas.
So, and we put some lead also. They are the two main ingredients.
KM: But why do you put lead into it?
The interest of lead is that then you get something which is somewhat linked to
metal which means that you get specific transparency, you get a specific
mode, so we get it cooked and then it is liquid. So when for instance we make
a glass we have our people working around a big furnace and just taking the
liquid crystal and blowing it with their mouths to make for instance a glass or
vase or vessel and working on it at that time it is…
KM: It melts, it’s mouldable.
…mouldable. And so that is crystal and it is the way crystal has been done for
the last two centuries. Every crystal maker has his own menu for mixing and
therefore it’s own colour.
But the best stuff is after the first phase of making crystal; we use the lost wax
technique, the same technique which is used for bronze and so instead of
putting some liquid bronze in a big mould we put our small pieces of quartz
crystal inside and then we put it in a big oven and it is cooked depending on
the size of the piece – between one week and four weeks and then we open
the oven and we take off the piece with its big plaster mould around and we
break by hand the mould and then we discover the piece.
And once we opened the oven and we found the piece, first we were very
disappointed because it was not what we were aiming at, but after a while I
remember all the people that were around the table was just wondering and
not daring to say it was a beautiful piece.
KM: It was a mistake that worked beautifully.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Henri De Quatrebarbes, Daum Glass & Crystal, Paris