The art and craft of Lalique: A lustrous marriage of form and function
by Evra Taylor
The name Lalique evokes the brilliance of jewelry, the wonder of transparency and the luminescence of crystal. When René Lalique established his first Parisian workshop in 1885, little did he know that his inspired creations fashioned of crystal, enamel and exotic materials would one day grace aircraft interiors whose design features are heralded around the globe.
Company founder René Lalique (1860-1945) was a gifted jewelry and glass artist. (Photo: Lalique SA)
René Lalique was born in pre-modern Europe, before the invention of light bulbs, automobiles and electricity. At the time of his death in 1945, he had completed two careers spanning two centuries. In 1900, he was heralded as the most celebrated jeweler in the world and an art nouveau artist and designer. But by 1925, at the height of the art deco era, he was the most celebrated glassmaker in the world. Lalique was eclectic yet refined. While he created unique, often custom-designed jewelry and objets d’art, he was equally accomplished in the mass production of innovative and usable art glass. Using commercial techniques, he brought art glass into the homes of ordinary people for the first time, on a scale commensurate to the burgeoning revolution in mass industrial production, creating worldwide demand for his products.
The origins of House of Lalique, sculptor of light, are to be found in late nineteenth century France, when René Lalique became an apprentice jewelry maker for stellar designers such as Cartier and Boucheron. In 1888, when he registered his “RL” stamp and began engraving his unique pieces with these letters, the world of art and design was changed forever. Just after the turn of the century, the art nouveau master jeweler began applying his talent to the perfume
industry. He revolutionized the design of perfume bottles at the invitation of famed perfumer François Coty, and became an art deco master glassmaker. With the founding of the Verrerie d’Alsace (Alsace Glassworks), René Lalique formalized his presence in the glassmaking industry. In fact, Alsace Glassworks houses the only Lalique factory.
As the ornate art deco creations of the “roaring twenties” evolved into the more streamlined esthetic of the thirties, the manufacturer was commissioned for a series of high-profile projects. One of the most noteworthy of these was the interior design of the vast first-class dining room on the luxury ocean liner Normandie.
The artful and art-filled world of Lalique has made a seamless transition from luxury ocean liner designs to international airline travel. Increasingly, forward-thinking airlines are coming to recognize that international travelers often desire high-end furnishings and finishes that maximize comfort, particularly during lengthy transatlantic flights.
Award-winning Singapore Airlines is celebrated for its luxury approach to travel. It strives to make every journey a personal experience through thoughtful attention to detail. In January 2017, the company decided that Lalique should become an essential ingredient in enhancing passengers’ in-flight dining experience. The House entered into a strategic partnership with Singapore Airlines with a co-branded offering that includes a line of crystal glassware. According to the agreement, the glassware will be used alongside Wedgwood crockery during meal service in suites and first-class cabins. The partnership started with the launch of Singapore Airlines’ next batch of Airbus A380s, the interior designs of which are set to drastically redefine the in-flight experience enjoyed by the airline's most valuable passengers.
Hirondelles collection with votive, flared vase, paperweight and small vase. (Photo: Lalique SA)
Lalique is also responsible for the luxury bedding and the amenity kits, which include moisturizers and perfumes, loungewear, slippers, eyeshades and socks, reinforcing the fact that Lalique is more than a brand – it’s a lifestyle. Travelers with an interest in design appreciate having a touch of home on board their flight as they enjoy refined in-flight dining complemented by elite signature grooming products.
Upon the death of René Lalique in 1945, Calouste Gulbenkian, a prominent businessman and patron of the arts, wrote: “He stands with the greatest names of all time in the history of art, and his very personal skills and outstanding imagination will be admired by the elite of the future.”
Lalique has enjoyed an equally special place in the hearts and minds of travelers aboard yachts, as well as in private residences, hotels and restaurants. Based in Paris, the Lalique Interior Design Studio produces an exclusive range of high-end interior designs for architects and designers using crystal glass. These custom-made designs reinterpret what luxury really means. Conceived to embrace and enhance all interiors and spaces, each design places crystal at the heart of the object’s environment and location, true to the creative approach of René Lalique.
With the acquisition of Lalique by the Swiss group Art & Fragrance in 2008, efforts were focused on global development and increasing the production capacity of crystal glassworks. The 2011 launch of Lalique Art enabled the organization to share expertise with prominent contemporary artists, foundations and talented designers to create unique works of art. In 2016 Art & Fragrance SA has announced it is to rename the Group holding company as Lalique Group SA.
Lalique’s legacy and passion for innovation make it the perfect companion for air travel which places a premium on fashionable yet functional décor and passenger comfort. With its entry into the global airline sector, Lalique continues to meet – and indeed anticipate – travelers’ wants and needs. This includes a desire for products which boast a solid tradition and provide the all-important sense of personal “cocooning” that has rendered global travel more appealing than ever.
The traditional know-how and savoir-faire of the crystal craftsmanship is respected and meticulously maintained. (Photo: Gilles Pernet)