in an interview
Monsieur Mathieu, what fascinates you about Nymphenburg porcelain?
Nymphenburg works similar to our manufactory. All pieces are crafted by hand. That’s really important when you would like to realize a custom-made chandelier. For me, the connection of the white bisque porcelain and the silvered bronze is really unique. The form of the chandelier is like typical Rococo-style, but the special combination of the material seems quite contemporary. For the chandelier special plaster moulds were built in Nymphenburg to cast parts of the chandelier with the liquid slip. For the flowers the experts in the master workshops formed every single leaf by hand. So it’s possible to create very inimitable pieces.
Did you change your technique for this chandelier?
No, we work with traditional techniques from the beginning. We keep working with the same techniques because our clients are looking for light solutions with our typical handwriting. Sometimes they ask for a special center piece like this chandelier. But what the people want from us is a solution for all their light problems. And so we think about to set some other light spots in the room for example when you have Monet or another important painting at the wall. And after we finished our work the room is complete. For the light solution and the light color we work with modern techniques but to the design we keep our roots. It’s similar in Nymphenburg. They work with the same techniques since their founding in 1747. This chandelier, for instance, even contains over several hundred separate pieces. These are cast individually, dried and carefully assembled in the modelling shop. This is also where leaves and flowers are formed by hand and applied individually with a scalpel to the chandelier.
What is the typical client of Mathieu Lustrerie?
We do not have this one special client. They all want their very own light solution for a special room. From Notre Dame Paris, over Museum Wallraff in Cologne, palaces all over the world, showrooms of luxury brands like Cartier or Louis Vuitton, to private homes. Every light project is different and special. Besides that more and more architects have been discovering the diverse world of Nymphenburg porcelain since the beginning of the 20th century to decorate spaces such as famous hotels, private houses, and sailing yachts. Chandeliers, lamps and interior design items made from Nymphenburg porcelain are also part of their usual bespoke repertoire.
How do you start working on a light project?
It’s important to choose a lamp for a special room. Every detail is important like the windows, wall paintings or the height of the ceiling. When you did your job very well, the whole light of a room is a unit. So the people don’t spot the sources of the light anymore. That’s why we have to install the chandeliers for our clients as an expert team for them. To make up a perfect setting.
Where do you find inspiration for all this various projects?
I travel a lot to look for the very best materials and cooperation partners that are standing for the same values like individual design and highest quality. We also work with stones like citrine or topaz. I have to fly all over the world to find the very best stones. It takes such a long time to choose the perfect ones. We spread them all over the table at our atelier and curate them – which color of the small pieces fits next to the other color. It’s a quite long lasting process. But it’s absolutely worth it.
Do you still find apprentices for your rare craft?
There are special schools for light design. There are many young people with great ambitions. To be part of my team you have to share the love for the techniques and our work. Our employees are open minded and have a lot of motivation. This is a benefit that they stay in our manufactory for a very long time, like more than 15 years or for a lifetime. The craftsmen in Nymphenburg need a long experience too, when they create handmade chandeliers. The apprenticeship normally lasts three years. But your training is never over in this job. Then it’s often still up to 15 years before you can can mould a complex object like a chandelier.
What do you like best about your profession?
Light is really important for the whole atmosphere in a room. For example when you have a big crystal chandelier from the 19th century, the crystal is really clear and with a very white light, you should set some more yellow lights in the corners of a room. Otherwise there would be a very cold atmosphere. It’s like a play on a stage and you have to put in scene. You have to set some highlights on objects or make a chandelier the highlight of the room itself – just like magic.