Emmanuel Babled Shows The Potential Of High-Quality Craftsmanship – Graduated in Industrial Design at the European Institute of Design in Milan and has been an invited professor and has developed workshops at Domus Academy in Milan and the Design Academy of Eindhoven. He started as a designer in Paris but moved to Milan to create his own design studio in 1992, where he worked for 18 years, before moving to Lisbon in 2016.
Born in France in 1967, Emmanuel Babled has developed a wide range of unique pieces and limited editions in self-production and for prestigious manufacturers such as Venini, Baccarat, Rosenthal, and Covo. These stunning handcrafted pieces are part of private and public collections around the world. The renowned designer has been working with glass in Murano for many years, a long and successful collaboration. He works with marble in Carrara and carpets in the north of India and Nepal and is continuing to explore different types of territorial skills.
Besides this exclusive collection, the renowned French designer has also created a few industrial products, furniture and lighting for an exclusive clients list that include Baccarat, Rosenthal, Venini, Bulgari, Ittala, Dupont de Nemours, Fontana Arte, Oluce, I&I, Laurent Perrier, Waterford Crystal, Felice Rossi, Henge, Covo, Giannini, Idee Co Ltd, Marzoretti Ronchetti, Viceversa, Vistosi among others.
The goal is to challenge traditional methods in order to obtain innovative and meaningful results. His work often combines a historical knowledge of the craft mixed with a computerized process and original composition. Emmanuel Babled, passionate with the ancient high-quality craftsmanship techniques, has established many collaborations with the best luxury design brands with Venini, Baccarat, and Rosenthal.
CE: Your work involves collaborations with Bvlgari, Rosenthal, and Baccarat. How would you describe the experience of working with such brands?
Emmanuel Babled: You mention brands that have to have a defending knowledge such as Crystal or Baccarat. It’s always a big challenge because it’s working on both sides of a brand, the market target, and the human capacity. And, I think it’s really exciting to work with these both hands in one activity.
CE: You’ve been working closely with the Murano Glass technique. What’s so attractive about it?
Emmanuel Babled: Well, working with glass is the most incredible experience for a designer. Glass is a liquid in movement and you have to design inside this movement. This is something that never happens with other materials. Nowadays, I’m developing new projects here with Vista Alegre and Atlantis, to try to merge my experience of Italian glass with a Portuguese capacity.
CE: How’s it working in Lisbon in comparison to Milan and Amsterdam?
Emmanuel Babled: The work in Lisbon, in comparison to another country like Italy and based on my experience, is still young, it’s only been three years since I’m here. I will say that my method is still the same, immersion inside the craft and capacity. So, I don’t see so much difference in my attitude, it’s a long process to get to a country, and to get into a deeper aspect of knowledge and capacity of a country, I’m working on it.
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CE: One of Portugal’s biggest heritage is the ancient technique of Glass Work from Marinha Grande. Did you have the opportunity to work with the craftsmen from this region?
Emmanuel Babled: I am starting to do a bit of scouting thanks to Vista Alegre and a company nearby in Alcobaça, Atlantis. So I’m starting to work with the masters of hand-blowing, we’re talking about free hand-blowing and being creative. It’s really exciting, I’m starting to be able to bring my experience from Murano, to mix it with a capacity of crystal of Atlantis and to find a new path, to create a new process possibility. I am afraid Marinha Grande will lose a lot of the art glass that we had in Murano and I prefer to be more in the industry of Glass. But, I’m sure there’s a lot to do, to restart this tradition.
CE: Do you think that we can actually compare Marinha Grande with Murano, in the Glass Work technique?
Emmanuel Babled: I think we can compare the material, we can compare the attitude to be an artisan. We cannot compare the same situation in an island, in the Laguna, in Murano, from the 6th Century. 20,000 people work in the fortress, so concentrated on one island. You cannot compare these two things but, of course, we’re talking about the same language, the same instrument, and same tool, the tools are exactly the same.
CE: You created the project called “Third Floor”, can you explain a little bit about it?
Emmanuel Babled: Thank you for this question. So, the Third Floor is an effort I did with my office to create another floor, the Third Floor. It’s not my office but it’s a space where we can host different activities, connected to craft production and craft process. Craft is not only the tradition to watch out, but we can also use high technology. It’s about the handmade, it’s not a massification, it’s a specialization. So, inside the Third Floor, I try to create a place for change. Everyone is independent but everyone can exchange with the other, and I think that, nowadays, this sharing is so important. We are also in Portugal to make an effort in trying not to be afraid of our neighbor, our competitor. Walking hand in hand, to reach results.
CE: What do you think is the role of communication in both design and craftsmanship?
Emmanuel Babled: The role of communication in craftsmanship is fundamental. Communication is many things, but it’s about relating authenticity, and when I talked about communication in the past conference I did, I really think it’s important for the consumer to understand what he’s buying, because it’s not only an object, it’s a history of humankind. This content cannot be communicated only with a static object, but it also has to be communicated relating how this object is born.
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