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Raw beauty: French studio Vossion transforms raw crystal into exquisite light sculptures

Alexandre Vossion crafts spectacular luminaires that celebrate the beauty of raw crystal for royalty, celebrities, and the seriously wealthy. He shares his passion – and the many challenges – with Effect Magazine.

As the saying goes, ‘If you can’t find it, make it’ – and for Alexandre Vossion, it’s a practical mantra that has changed the course of his life. Working as an antique dealer in France in the early- to mid-2000s, Vossion became fascinated by antique raw crystal lighting, but found himself competing against the world’s top dealers for the most exquisite examples. He quickly discovered that he could rarely afford to buy the pieces that he desired as there were so few on the market. While most people would have shifted their attention elsewhere, Vossion decided to forge a new path and create his own raw crystal luminaires.

The Diadem chandelier is described by Alexandre Vossion as “French haute couture lighting” and takes inspiration from jewellery. The raw crystal is framed in 24K gold plated brass

“It became an obsession,” recalls Vossion. “Finally, I thought as I can’t buy an old one, maybe I can make a new one. I tried one time, then two times, three times, and four times…” The first piece he successfully realised took inspiration from an original antique chandelier, and he was soon asked to make more by his numerous interior design contacts. As demand grew, he left behind the world of antiques and founded his eponymous lighting studio Vossion just over a decade ago.

It became an obsession. I thought, as I can’t buy an old one, maybe I can make a new one…

Alexandre Vossion

Today, Vossion creates incredible chandeliers and lamps that blur the line between functional lighting and work of art for the world’s wealthiest design connoisseurs – but his path to success has been fraught with challenges. “You ask a bank to give you €10,000 to create a chandelier from raw crystal and they laugh at you,” he says. “I don’t come from a wealthy family and so I have built all this myself.” And, financing his vision was just one of many challenges along the way.

Vossion’s design process begins deep beneath the earth’s surface in Brazil. It’s here, in mines, that the rare raw crystal that he transforms into spectacular luminaires for the monied elite is uncovered. Once the stone is found, Vossion has to compete with some of the world’s biggest fashion houses to purchase it – with prices skyrocketing as demand increases and natural reserves of the crystal grow increasingly rare. As a result, it can take up to eight months to find the crystal he needs, and sometimes it is just impossible.

My work is characterised by big stones. And it is very complicated and expensive to find these stones.

Alexandre Vossion

“My work is characterised by big stones,” he says. “And, it is very complicated and expensive to find these stones.” Testament to this are the world records he holds. Vossion has created the biggest pair of raw crystal chandeliers in the world, which are located in Moscow and measure 2.7 metres in height and weigh around 400 kg each. He also holds the record for the largest pair of amethyst chandeliers in the world. Large blocks of amethyst are rare, however – Vossion hasn’t been able to source any for three years – and so these measure in at a more modest 50-centimetre diameter. “Often it’s not a question of money,” he says. “Sometimes, nature just doesn’t give it to you.”

Vossion is best known for dramatic chandeliers but also creates spectacular lamps with raw crystal bases, often inspired by Art Deco style
Vossion is best known for dramatic chandeliers but also creates spectacular lamps with raw crystal bases, often inspired by Art Deco

Once Vossion has obtained the crystal he needs to create his works, the lengthy design and fabrication process begins – a process that is just as time consuming and specialist as finding the raw materials, taking from three months to three years to complete. Each piece is crafted from bronze, rock crystal, amethyst, gold, silver, palladium using primarily 18th-century craft traditions, and involves up to 15 different artisans, including stone cutters, sculptors for the timber prototypes, bronze artisans, electricians, gilders, and polishers.

“I work with the best artisans in France,” says Vossion. “They are all unknown and very private, you work with one who introduces you to another, but as they are the best they only want to work with the best and it is about passion, not money. Making this network has taken me 10 years, and is definitely the hardest part. In the beginning, building relationships with the artisans is like attempting to caress a cat. Now, though, we are friends!”

Of course, this kind of finely crafted product doesn’t come cheap. Vossion’s work begins at €15,000 and can cost hundreds of thousands of euros. So, unsurprisingly, Vossion’s clients are some of the wealthiest people in the world – what he describes as the “crème de la crème”. He has crafted spectacular luminaires for the royal families of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar, and Pierce Brosnan is one of his best customers.

Raw crystal has always been the top of the top, from the 16th century to today

Many of his customers, however, remain anonymous even to him, and he deals primarily with interior designers to the stars – including a number of designers featured on the prestigious Architectural Digest  AD100 list. “Occasionally, I will get an email from an anonymous client,” he reveals. “And to know that these people appreciate our work so much that they take the time to send an email means a lot.”

Vossion has just one regret about his work: that he won’t be able to pass on the studio he has built to his daughters due to the increasing scarcity of raw crystal. “It has taken a lot of hard work, blood, and tears to build this studio,” he says. “This work is my life, and sometimes it is a bit painful that I won’t be able to pass it on. In 20 years, I don’t think we will be able to find the large raw crystal we need to work with.” With all of his work to date furnishing some of the world’s most private homes and rarely seen by the public outside of the pages of glossy magazines, his dream is for a piece to one day be acquired by a museum for posterity. 

“Raw crystal has always been the top of the top, from the 16th century to today,” says Vossion. “It is a journey that is connected with your mind and your eyes – there is something spiritual about them. I don’t do this for the money. It’s so complicated, I only do it out of passion!”

5 rare Vossion crystal lights:

Read more: Lighting | Interiors | Vintage I Design | DealersInterior Designers | France