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Provenance: La Soufflerie

How we found a brand new supplier in the heart of Paris making the most beautiful mouth blown glass. This is where to get your new favourite bud vases, vases and candlesticks.

Buying La Soufflerie on a wintry day in Paris

We have been watching the beautiful work of La Soufflerie for some time but needed a visit to Paris to meet the team and see the whole collection in the real before making a final decision. It was something of a challenge even to get to the Hotel le Grand Amour, where they had set up camp for Paris Design Week: Lucy's near arrest by the very lovely RATP transport police; blizzard conditions and unsuitable footwear; and the threat of an impending Eurostar departure (because Victoria wasn't wearing her specs when she checked her watch). Anyway, cozy and coffeed up in the lobby of their cute hotel in the 10th, we set to work.

The History of La Soufflerie

Founded in 2007 by husband and wife team, Sebastien and Valentine Nobile (he a glassblower, apprenticed to two master blowers, she an artist), La Soufflerie was established as a cooperative, based in a small studio in Paris. Traditionally the home of French glass has been in St Gobain in the east of the country but the Nobile's intention has been to revive the tradition of Parisian glass making, giving work to talented blowers, many of whom come from generations of family working in the craft, who would otherwise find it difficult to find outlets.

How the Glass is made

In reaction against the mechanisation of much craft production, La Soufflerie are intent on making each object with no machine intervention. The bottles and vases are all made from recycled glass (drinks containers, old window panes and perfume bottles) and mouth blown with a cane, using traditional tools and processes. And because each piece is individually made, they are all subtly different in terms of size and colour. This is not a cookie cutter outfit in any way.

Inspiration for the Pieces

La Soufflerie is a small operation. They employ 4 full time members of staff (and work with 10 freelancers through the year). It is very much a family run business. So the vases based on heads are often portraits of friends and family rendered in glass. Have a look at Djamal and the Verre Tete Vase. Inspiration also comes from sculpture and ancient vessels as well as shapes of local ceramics gathered on their travels. Have a look at Frigo sans bec, taken from the everyday shape of an old fashioned French milk bottle.

As for using La Soufflerie, the more the merrier. I know it sounds like a classic retailer's refrain to encourage multiple purchases but the variety of shapes and colours are so very pleasing that small groupings of vessels do genuinely look beautiful. And a single stem in a single bud vase is another way to go. Your choice.