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Sèvres Lamps by Roman Bouroullec

In the southwestern suburbs of Paris, the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres boasts a rich history of porcelain production. Established in the mid-18th century, the factory (one of the most prominent in Europe and a standard-setter in the industry), was first owned by the French crown, and subsequently the government, before transitioning into a public organization in 2009. Over the past two centuries, the manufactory has worked with such esteemed ceramicists as the sculptor Auguste Rodin and the architect Ettore Sottsass.

French designer Ronan Bouroullec is the latest addition to this list of collaborators, fulfilling the organization’s mandate to produce contemporary objects that maintain its commitment to artistry and craft.

Sèvres Lamps by Roman Bouroullec in display window

Aptly named the Sèvres Lamps, Bouroullec’s new lighting collection will be shown at the Manufacture de Sèvres’ stand at the inaugural edition of international design and decorative arts fair Design Miami/ Paris, which will run concurrently with the Paris+ art fair from October 17 to 22.

Porcelain lamp

Composed of a crisp and clean aluminum base contrasted by a delicately glazed porcelain aureole, the lamps are available in three heights and sizes, allowing users to mix and match them to create a multitude of combinations. A light source beneath the aureole imparts a subtle glow. The mushroom cap–like form of the aureoles, informed by Boroullec’s “quest for delicacy, but also rigour,” was developed through hand-throwing the clay, a technique which requires both sensuality and precision.

Porcelain aureoles on work table

Next came the glaze. Bouroullec combed through the Sèvres archives to find a technique that would impart the ethereal quality he was looking to achieve. In the process, he stumbled upon the manufactory’s early experiments with crystallization. After being hand-thrown in the large Manufacture de Sèvres studio, the porcelain aureoles are then spray-glazed. During the firing process, the glaze crystallizes, creating stunning abstract patterns that render each piece completely unique, and teeming with movement, colour and detail.

Porcelain aureoles

“It all quite delicately explodes in the kiln, and when the pieces are taken out, you’re not quite sure if they might be alive,” Bouroullec says. “It could be a sea anemone, a portion of sky, a flash of light in space. I wasn’t at all aiming for this, but there is a very natural quality that appears, natural and uncontrolled.”

Sèvres Lamp by Ronan Bouroullec

While some pieces are covered in subtle striations that resemble those found in an eye’s iris, others feature explosive patterns that radiate outwards from the centre like fireworks. The collection’s varied colour palette, which ranges from pale blues and yellows to deep greens and reds, imbues each piece with a distinct personality. Bouroullec’s take on the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres’ age-old techniques has spawned a collection that reimagines ceramics with contemporary forms and aesthetics while honouring the institution’s traditional craftsmanship.

For a Series of Elegant Lamps, Ronan Bouroullec Reinterprets Age-Old Porcelain Techniques

The French designer offers a contemporary take on hand-thrown porcelain craft in his mushroom-like Sèvres Lamps.

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