Milan 2013: what is Baccarat doing?

Baccarat Campana bros galaxia and cosmo pendant light Nave and Amuleto table lights Good question. The short answer is emulating where Venini were two years ago -- even working with the same people. Above are two pendants (Galaxia and Cosmo) and two table lights (Nave and Amuleto) which were created by the Campana brothers after they were asked to come and play with some existing Baccarat designs and components. The result was the Fusion series which brings together "French Art de Vivre and Brazilian force of nature" -- cut crystal with wicker and bamboo, basically.

What do you think? Do you want to rush out and buy one?

One result that was interesting is the Fusion version of the classic Zénith chandelier...

Baccarat Zenith Fusion chandelier by FERNANDO and HUMBERTO CAMPANA which crystal arms have been replaced by bamboo arms. But how interesting is it really? Surely the different properties of the materials could have been brought together in a new design that would have been beautiful... interesting...challenging...?

Louise Campbell also had a go at a Zénith. This is her Nervous Zénith:

Louise Campbell Nervous Zenith chandelier Baccarat

It is a one-off. She went to the factory, got some wonky bits made (you can see some angled alberts hanging down at the bottom), added an extra light at the top. And a candle... But to what end?

For some reason, Baccarat do not seem to be getting the best out of the designers they are working with. This is particularly true with Philippe Starck, who asked for a black Zénith a few years ago justifiably to great acclaim, but who now seems to be just taking the piss. He has riffed again on the Zénith to create one version with antlers added (Zénith sur la Lagune) and this one, Zénith le samedi, that has a LED-lit cable running through it:

etrange zenith le samedi chandelier Baccarat Philippe Starck


One explanation is that Baccarat want to update their existing designs.

Jean Marc Gady has created a Lady Crinoline Comète by simplifying Crinoline and hanging three together (there are single and double versions also):

Lady Crinoline Comete Baccarat pendant light

which is the first of the lights we've looked at here which is likely to be bought in any numbers. But then he tries a LED version:

Baccarat Lady Crinoline Comete LED pendant light

This just isn't good enough. Maybe the LEDs have to be few centimetres above the crystal but surely  something more elegant (or ironic? or witty? or something?) to mount them in could have been devised? If not, the idea should have been parked.

Thank goodness for Philippe Nigro. He has created this pretty little Clochette that can be hung singly or in clusters:

Clochette pendant light Baccarat Philippe Nigro

and a crystal lantern (there are not many of those!) with a hook on top called Céleste, that can stand on a table or be hung up:

Baccarat lantern  Celeste by Philippe Nigro

Here are examples of both lit up:

Baccarat Philippe Nigro Clochette pendant lights and Céleste crystal lantern

Somebody at Baccarat must have realized that people might think that the Company has lost the plot, so the first exhibit, in a room all of its own , with mirrored black walls, was a magnificent 64-light Zénith, with hurricane shades added;

Zenith 64 light crystal chandelier Baccarat

Or maybe they remembered that two years after Venini were doing the same thing -- getting the Campana brothers to play with bits of their glass and exhibiting the results in a nearby palazzo -- they seem to have given up on new lighting altogether.

You are probably thinking that I've been hard on Baccarat. It's more disappointment, of being let down, really. One of the greatest names in our world of fine lighting should be showing the way forward with creativity, self-confidence and generating excitement. Instead, they are marking time -- fatal, surely, in the current economic climate.


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