Goodmoods

The Saint-Louis collection Matrice by

Kiki van Eijk

True Story

2 months ago

We had to meet Kiki van Eijk in the Manufacture of Saint-Louis in Moselle to discover the background and inspiration of her crystal creations. The Dutch designer finally took us to her workshop in Eindhoven, via cameras, due to confinement. From this design laboratory, she recounts how her creations and her personal life intermingle: she imagined the first Matrice lamps when she was expecting her first child, then she enriched this collection of small lights and decorative objects when she was carrying her second boy. What she refers to with the term « Matrice » is indeed birth.

A matter of birth and also of transmission. 434 years is the number of years that have enabled Saint-Louis to accumulate more than 10,000 moulds and exceptional know-how. This priceless heritage is the source of Kiki Van Eijk’s inspiration. Demonstration.

Kiki Van Eijk
Kiki in the middle of the stock of moulds at the factory © Delphine Chanet

The genesis of the Matrix collection?

 

« It all started with a very special phone call from Saint-Louis, eight or nine years ago! I immediately found the manufacturing world very interesting.

I really enjoy working with top-class craft houses, it’s an ideal setting to learn from each other. From the very beginning I knew it would be exciting from an artistic point of view. »

Clear crystal vase, Matrix collection © Jonas Marguet

MATRICE

How did your collaboration start?

 

« I quickly went to the Manufacture in Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche. It’s a beautiful old village, surrounded by the forest, a fairy-tale landscape!

The houses there have sublime colours: pink, blue, pastels. I was then inspired by them for the scenography of the collection. »

Mould of a vase from the Matrice collection © Delphine Chanet

What triggered the creation of this collection? 

 

« I was able to take a grand tour of the Manufacture, everything is magnificent there.

At the end we arrived at a warehouse where hundreds of moulds were stored. The team from Saint-Louis rushed through the visit and I was insisting we wait and take the time: for me it was the most important place in the factory. »

The first table lamp of the Matrice collection in nickel-plated finish © Delphine Chanet
© Delphine Chanet

« The moulds were so beautiful, they were all so different, each one had its own personality. I really felt that they were key elements of the Manufacture.

When you blow glass into a mould, something magical happens: when you open it, a new object is born. I immediately thought that I should design the lamps around this idea. »

The new table lamp from the Matrice collection © design by Kiki
The first table lamp of the Matrice collection in a copper finish.


« I imagined the lamps in the Matrice collection by trying to transcribe the way a mould opens. I used this opening system, by hand, to release the light with more or less intensity. I wanted to recreate the effect of molten material. »

The parison of the table lamp in cut clear crystal (diamonds and bevels) © Delphine Chanet
The compaction of the crystal parison before being cut © Delphine Chanet

How did you work with the factory’s master glassmakers?

 

« We spent a lot of time talking with the craftsmen, to understand their techniques and ideas. We worked together on several crystal cutting trials.

They are very open-minded, particularly good listeners and I think they are very proud of what they make, of their know-how. »

The parison of the Matrice compassed lamp © Delphine Chanet
The Matrice wall light, IP44 © Jonas Marguet

What are your other inspirations?

 

« I immersed myself in old books to see what lanterns looked like in the past and to draw on historical references. Apart from that, the moulds truly guided me for this collection. »

© Kiki van Eijk

Why « Matrice » ?

 

« Seven years ago, when we launched the collection, I immediately thought of the Matrice, the term designing the manufacturing mould.  At the same time, I was pregnant with my first child and the Matrice also represents the place where children are carried, the uterus. This concept and the parallel with my personal life amused me! »

How did you imagine the extension of the collection?

 

« I was pregnant with my second child when Saint-Louis asked me if I wanted to extend the collection, it’s funny! That was three years ago, I worked on new variations of lamps and a series of vases.

I imagined the vases in the same spirit as the lamps but using different shapes inspired by other moulds. »

Kiki Van Eijk in the moulds workshop © Delphine Chanet
Large Matrice vase in clear crystal lined in blue and carved (diamonds and bevels). Exceptional piece, numbered and limited edition of 188 pieces © Benoît Teillet
Large Matrice vase in clear crystal lined in flannel grey and © Jonas Marguet

« As an anecdote, at the same time I was doing a lot of gardening in our new house, on the border between Eindhoven and Nuenen. I did a lot of tests with the flowers in the garden to design the vases.

In the end, all you have to do is put a few flowers in them and it’s beautiful because the vases are very strong, very present. »

© Benoît Teillet
Matrice vases suitable for all types of bouquets © designed by Kiki
© Jonas Marguet

Your colour palette?

Crystal
Klein blue
Flannel

« The blue vase has a very special color, it is a special Saint-Louis recipe. It is very deep just like Yves Klein’s vase.

The flannel is more delicate, very chic, I really like the smoky effect, it’s not just gray, it’s an organic shade. »

© Benoît Teillet

What are the specificities of crystal?

© Delphine Chanet

“It’s really a substantial experience, it’s very different than working with glass. The crystal is so pure, so delicate.

 

Its reflections reveal each object, when you have the shape without any cuts, something is missing… We have worked with two Saint-Louis cutting techniques – diamond and bevel – to accentuate the reflections of the water on the table and to create a light coming from within. The cutouts reveal the object, even a light that is a little basic at first is transformed. »

© Jonas Marguet
Matrice table lamp in nickel finish © Armelle Lalo
© Jonas Marguet

Where would you like to see the Matrice collection?

 

“Almost everywhere I think! I can imagine the lamp placed on a hotel bedside table or in an intimate restaurant. I can clearly see the floor lamp in the corner of a living room and the vases next to them on side tables with flowers. »

© Kiki van Eijk
© Kiki van Eijk

And in your home ?

 

“I have been living with the lamp since the collection came out. It brings so much heat to the house. In the evening, it is always on. The rare times the lamp is turned off it feels like something is missing. She is part of the family! »

In which movie or series would you like to see the Matrice collection?

 

“I can imagine them very well in the atmosphere of the Swedish series“ The restaurant ”. 

The accessory that was always by your side during this project?

 

« For the second generation of the Matrice collection, I wore a ring that I designed – my lucky ring – it has a heart of gold. I have it on my finger every day since the birth of my second child. »

© Kiki van Eijk
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