PARIS — Some of the specialty workshops that produce Chanel’s annual Métiers d’Art collection have a thriving sideline in interior design.
Pieces by embroiderer Lesage, gold- and silversmith Goossens, feather and flower expert Lemarié and Studio MTX, an offshoot of embroiderer Montex, are on show until Sept. 16 at the Féau Boiseries showroom in Paris, alongside items from London-based furniture marketplace The Invisible Collection.
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The exhibition opened on Thursday as part of Paris Design Week, a series of events staged in parallel with the Maison & Objet trade show. It was designed by interior architects Marc-Antoine Biehler and Amaury Graveleine, who also created a collection of ready-to-sell embroideries for Lesage Intérieurs, which can be used on furniture or soft furnishings.
The house had previously offered only custom embroideries, carried out by its Vastrakala workshop in Chennai, India. The collaboration marks the first time Lesage Intérieurs has worked with external designers.
The relationship began after Biehler and Graveleine won the Visual Merchandising Prize awarded by Chanel during the 2021 edition of the Design Parade Toulon international interior design festival. Part of their prize was working with Lesage Intérieurs on a showcase exhibition the following year.
“It’s very interesting to share with young, passionate designers the wealth and humanity of our craftsmanship. Since everything is embroidered by hand, there is the heart, the head, the gut, the hand — the magic of the hands,” said artistic director Jean-François Lesage, who founded the interior design division in 1993.
He noted that the Lesage embroidery workshop, which is set to celebrate its centenary next year, has 75,000 samples in its archive, making it the world’s largest embroidery collection. Biehler and Graveleine drew inspiration from pieces spanning from the ’20s to the ’70s for the 12 themes in their Folklore collection.
“It was an experiment, a test and at the same time a challenge for us, with a vision rooted in architecture and design, to find a way to use embroidery not just as a decorative feature, but also to tell a story,” Graveleine said. “We have adapted fashion embroideries for use in furnishing.”
The pair joined forces with master upholsterer Charles Jouffre to design an armchair and matching footrest trimmed with cream fringe that will be produced by The Invisible Collection. Elsewhere in the Féau showroom, which houses a treasure trove of wood paneling dating back to the 16th century, they expertly matched ancient and modern pieces.
A Goossens console with hand-hammered leaves was displayed in front of a wall tapestry by Lesage Intérieurs based on an old map of Chandigarh, while Window Panels by MTX were juxtaposed with a wide marble desk by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance and a Goossens lamp.
“It was really a question of picking pieces that looked coherent or resonated with each other,” Graveleine said, pointing out that some of the wood panels displayed alongside the furniture were selected by the late Karl Lagerfeld, who used them as inspiration for the luxury suites for the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris that he designed with Lebanese architect Aline Asmar d’Amman.
Lesage said the Féau showroom was proof that there is a place for historic craftsmanship in modern design.
“I think it’s great because you can invite the most edgy, avant-garde designers to a place like this, and they feed off it with the same pleasure as all previous generations. There is a kind of obvious link between yesterday, today and tomorrow,” he said.
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