Our new artisan Delisle - Interview with Jean Delisle

Photo credit : Laurine Paumard Photographe

At Par Excellence, we champion the best of French craftsmanship and expertise. We are thrilled to announce that a prestigious lighting atelier has joined our collective: Delisle is an expert in luxury lighting, creating exquisite chandeliers, wall lights, lanterns, lamps and floor lamps. The majority of their creations are custom-made, and the house collaborates with the most famous designers past and present. From the lanterns of the Place de la Concorde to the great chandeliers created for Yves Saint Laurent and the Hotel George V, a multitude of prestigious Parisian lighting fixtures have been created or restored by these illustrious artisans. Established in 1895, Delisle has passed on its French know-how from generation to generation. Jean Delisle is the fifth generation to lead this historic family business. We interviewed Jean to learn more about Delisle’s expertise, how they work with architects and interior designers and how they have preserved their heritage for over 120 years.

We are so happy that you are joining Par Excellence! What are your thoughts on being part of this French design collective and what does it mean to Delisle?

Delisle’s mission is to offer our highly skilled “know-how” to interior designers and to create custom lighting and furniture. We are delighted to join the Par Excellence adventure in New York and to continue to bring our expertise to American designers. Being part of Par Excellence is a great opportunity for us as it combines talented artisans with unique French “savoir-faire”.  It is essential for our company to collaborate and share our craft with architects and interior designers.

Can you please give us a brief background history of Delisle, your heritage and expertise?

Since its creation in 1895 by Henry Delisle, the Delisle company has been creating mainly lighting fixtures but also exceptional custom-made furniture while also collaborating with contemporary designers on their collections.  Our core business is bronze.

Throughout the generations of my family, Delisle has always collaborated with great names in decoration:  from the designers of the beginning of the 20th century to Jean Royère and Gilbert Poillerat during the Art Deco period and leading up to contemporary designers today such as Eric Schmitt, Christian Liaigre and Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

Your archive is a treasure trove of inspiration.  Can you please tell us about this archive and how designers work with it?  For example, you have over 10,000 drawings, including many of Henry Delisle’s Art Deco designs.  Can you also please talk about the amazing collection of master models all made by Delisle and dating back to 1895 and how designers incorporate these elements in their designs?

We are fortunate to have kept all of our archives since the creation of the house in 1895. These original drawings and watercolors are a great source of inspiration for the decorators we work with.

The old models allow us to realize these objects in the most beautiful way.  The culture of woodcarving was very strong during the 19th and early 20th centuries.  The exceptional quality of some of our models allows us to offer the most refined pieces for our clients.

Can you please tell us more about the workshop located near Paris?

We have fifteen craftsmen working in our factory.  Our in-house design office draws and conceives all of our creations.  First, we start with the hand drawing, 2D and 3D through wood carving to 3D printing.  Our workshop of bronze mounting and ironwork of art then takes over for the manufacture of our lights.  We work the raw material by chiseling, turning and polishing.  The last steps take place in our finishing workshop with the decoration, the crystal work and the electrification.  We then work with many specific workshops according to their know-how:  stone, marble, alabaster and rock crystal cutting, lampshade making, blown glass and curved glass, leather sheathing, straw marquetry, cast glass and so on.

Delisle is celebrated for classical designs and opulent chandeliers, but you are also well-known for working with leading designers to create contemporary collections.  Can you please tell us more about this?

Henry Delisle was an exceptional designer and design is at the heart of our creations.  We regularly create pieces of classic style but also from the Art Deco period and the 1950’s.  Today we put our know-how and our expertise at the service of contemporary designers to allow their design to benefit from the traditional know-how of working the material and patinas.

You work with high-end hotels and stores, private residences, embassies and palaces, you create collections with designers and do restoration work (for example at Versailles).  What are some recent projects that stand out for you?

We work regularly for high-end hotels and luxury boutiques.  At the moment, we are participating in a major restoration of the suites at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris.  For the first time we have been chosen to create the lighting for all of the bathrooms in the suites.  We have also created jewel wall lights for the recently renovated Cartier boutique on Rue de la Paix in Paris. Taking a design from the Cartier archives we created a wall lamp composed of black and white onyx and alabaster bronze patina with indirect lighting of LED.  We are also creating lanterns with Boucheron for their new boutique in Tokyo.  And we are working on many private projects abroad.

Has there been a project that has inspired you and one that has challenged you?

The history of our company that was created by my great great grandfather and passed on to each generation is probably the project that inspires me the most and also challenges me daily.

A recent project that challenged us was creating a very large chandelier for a stunning home in San Francisco.  We were able to cut the weight in half by using laser-cut aluminum covered with brass sheets.  Custom design pushes us to use innovative techniques.

Since 2022, we are the partners of the “Design Parade of Toulon” that rewards the best designers under 30.  The young designers of today are an amazing source of inspiration.  Their dynamism and passion for our crafts are a real source of joy and challenge too!

Can you please tell us about your recent project for an apartment in NYC where you created a stunning 6-foot-tall chandelier?

We had the chance to be chosen by an American designer living in Paris to create an exceptional chandelier inspired by the one in Hubert de Givenchy’s grand salon.  Each element of the bronze and crystal assembly was designed and made to measure.  This magical chandelier was then installed in a grandiose apartment across the street from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Jean, you collaborated with Lalique in creating the beautiful “Ginkgo” chandelier and wall sconces.  Can you please tell us about this collaboration and what inspired this design?

I had the honor of working for Lalique in New York for over 2 years.  I was in charge of the architectural products on the American market.  When I joined my family business, I kept this important link with Lalique and we created this beautiful “Ginkgo” collection, the fruit of our two exceptional skills:  bronze and crystal.  The “Ginkgo” chandelier is a nod to a grandiose chandelier we created in the 1930’s for the InterContinental Hotel in Paris.

You also collaborated with one of our Par Excellence artisans, Lison de Caunes, on a bronze guéridon.  Her straw marquetry tabletop is exquisite and the top with your bronze base is just stunning.  Can you please tell us about what it was like working with Lison?

It is always a real pleasure to work with Lison de Caunes.  She is a great craftsman and we share the focus on finishes.  One of our first collaborations was a guéridon for the “Structure” collection that I designed.  Her knowledge of straw marquetry materials and her attention to detail were invaluable in choosing the right straw marquetry pattern and colors to match with our bronze creation.

How do you manage to take Delisle forward while keeping what made your company’s reputation?

Our creative tradition is our reputation and keeps us moving forward.  We are fortunate and honored to work with designers who challenge us.  Our know-how is challenged by their ideas and forces us to surpass ourselves.

As a true conductor of arts and crafts, we call upon a multitude of skills on a daily basis:  wood sculptors, marble workers, glass blowers, chiselers, decorators and crystal makers.  These know-how’s are now combined with new technologies such as 3D scanning and printing, laser engraving and multiaxis machining.

Our core values are quality, service and creativity.

How do you differentiate yourself from other lighting companies?

The heart of our business is the creation of custom lighting for nearly 130 years.

The creation is made to measure from an idea, a sketch or taken from the archive.  Delisle has an exceptional historical collection of more than 4,000 antique models and 12,000 drawings in the archive to find inspiration from past projects such as the Tsarskoe-Selo Palace in Saint Petersburg, the Royal Opera and the Grand Trianon in Versailles and Yves Saint Laurent’s private homes designed by Jacques Grange.

Today, we continue to work with the most prestigious designers and architects such as Pierre Yovanovitch, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Eric Schmitt, Michael Smith, Andrew Winch and many more.

Jean, you are the 5th generation of Delisle to run this family business. What does it mean to you to carry on your family’s wonderful and important legacy?

It is a joy to be able to carry on the family legacy.  I am doubly lucky:  I love creation and craftsmanship and the core business of Delisle is the creation of arts and crafts.

I couldn’t have arrived at a better time, and I hope to be able to pass on this joy of creating with and for our customers!

To learn more about DELISLE and their projects, please click here.

To schedule an appointment or inquire how DELISLE can help with your project, please reach out to us here.