Mathieu Lustrerie’s chandelier workshops, gallery and museum in a small village in the Luberon.
What I didn’t expect when my husband and I went to purchase light bulbs in the small village of Gargas near our home in Provence was to be advised by possibly the world’s premier creator, collector and restorer of magnificent chandeliers and lighting artworks. Neither did I expect that the style maker, entrepreneur and creative head of Mathieu Lustrerie would treat us to a private tour of the working ateliers and galleries that are the world headquarters and share with us his passion for the universe of light.
Regis Mathieu became the head of the family firm at the age of twenty, nine years after his father’s untimely death. He oversees workshops, galleries and showrooms in Gargas, Paris, London and New York. He designs new collections that are works of art inspired by the heavens, the sea and nature. He is also a consummate collector.
“A tour of our museum takes you through six centuries of antique pieces and some masterpieces re-edited by our workshops for the occasion.
Chandeliers are magical objects that provide an incredible pleasure to anyone who can look at them. Long forgotten, these real sculptures of light have an interest at the same time historical, architectural, social and aesthetic that it is time to rediscover. Through all the activities of Mathieu Lustrerie, I wish above all to share my passion for these exceptional pieces and recreate the desire of the chandeliers. “
The home of Mathieu Lustrerie in Gargas is nestled at the foot of an ochre hill in the beautiful countryside of Luberon. The village earned UNESCO World Heritage status for the unique soil, plant life and geological formations on the slopes of the hill of Perréal where vines have been cultivated since the 2nd century BC. Nearby Les Mines du Bruoux is the only operating ochre quarry in the Vaucluse where once the “route de l’ochre” supplied Europe and the world with color pigments.
Just a few kilometers from the Roman city of Apt, Mathieu’s workshop produces “the art of light in all its facets”. These fantastic, unique creations are painstakingly handmade for destinations such as royal palaces, prestigious hotels and spectacular private residences. Mathieu’s galleries and museum in Gargas are also the permanent home for his personal collection. This includes an historic lighting timeline and selected personal designs. Displays of lighting art date from the 15th century until today.
The list of Historical Monuments in the Mathieu portfolio is long and includes extensive researching, drawing and execution of plans and the sculpting of models in consultation with architects, curators or owners. A very short list of projects includes The Château de Chantilly, Louvre Museum, St. Louis Cathedral Of Versailles, Paris National Opera, Philadelphia Opera, Castle of Versailles, National Assembly Paris and the Elysée Palace.
“Artisan, entrepreneur, expert, collector, designer and philanthropist. He is one of those unclassifiable people who never cease to amaze by always being where you do not expect him to be.”
As luck would have he happened to be at the reception desk when we arrived at the repurposed 19th century factory that is his firm’s world headquarters. As the office was closing for lunch he amiably took over from his staff to help. He solved our light bulb quandary by suggesting a specialty LED “Evolution 5” bulb created by the firm to replace the 20,000 lights of the Versailles’ ‘Hall of Mirrors’. “They burn for years and at a fraction of the cost and have the warm glow of real candle flame”.
With the workshops quiet, Mathieu invited us to step back in time and into the future of the universe of light by following him through the workshops, ateliers, galleries and museum. We even had a look at what is on his drawing table for upcoming international art expositions – fantastical crystal and bejeweled inspirations from the forest. These pieces are not just beautiful they must be intricately engineered to adapt wiring and electrical connections in a careful balance of beauty and science.
We saw what would best called a parts department – a cavernous warehouse with crates of gold and silver foliage and fauna, Japanese monkeys, mythical Satyrs, mollusks, cephalopods, crystals, prisms, and delicate branches to be fashioned into magnificent chandeliers. One large room is dedicated to ormolu casting in silver, gold and bronze. In another studio artisans wire and weld the hundreds of parts, painstakingly camouflaging electrical components.
In he high ceilinged ochre-stained show room’s huge chrome racks are literally draped with shimmering glass creations in crystal, semiprecious stones and metals waiting for shipping around the world.
Regis Mathieu’s fine art collections are entered at international art shows. He also collaborates with artists for unique exhibitions at the Gargas Ateliers.
This Christmas 2019 the work of French artist, Christine Ferrer – crystal encrusted chandelier trees and jeweled dresses will open in the Gargas galleries Dec. 17, 2019.
Mathieu Lustrerie is open for public visits, tours and special events.
Please visit the website: www.mathieulustrerie.com
Christine Ferrer website: http://www.christineferrer.com
All photography by Deborah MacNeill
Regis Mathieu portrait courtesy of Mathieu Lustrerie