The Chalhoub Group, the company that first introduced many luxury brands to the Mena region, has opened a new exhibition at Expo 2020 Dubai, to showcase the technical know-how and expertise of French artisans.
Called The French Art De Vivre, A Dream to Share, it is housed in the France Pavilion, and will run until December 6.
It was created with the Chalhoub Group store Tanagra, and inside visitors can enjoy the skill of three of France’s most revered specialist houses: Baccarat, Bernardaud and Christofle, which craft fine crystal, porcelain and cutlery, respectively.
As a way to showcase their collective skills, the houses have each created an artwork for the occasion. Christofle has created a unique piece, a two-metre-tall Tree of Life artwork weighing almost 100 kilograms. The metal structure is comprised of 37 different elements, decorated with 142 gold or silver butterflies, each one cut and polished by hand. With the total structure almost a metre in diameter, it required almost 1kg of sterling silver and 21 grams of gold to complete.
It was created as a fusion of Europe and the Middle East, with Burj Khalifa at the centre of the sculpture. Once the exhibition is complete, it will be moved to its new home in the boutique in The Dubai Mall.
For Baccarat, Dutch artist Hans van Bentem has created Medicis Vase XXL, an artwork made from 13,000 clear crystal pendants, plus a single red piece, that is Baccarat’s signature. Standing 2.5 metres high, it weighs an impressive 300kg and is worth an estimated €500,000 ($579,500). The glow from LED lights refracts off the different facets of the pendants, octagons and prisms, to create a dazzling light show.
Bernardaud, meanwhile, has poured generations of knowledge into its piece, made in conjunction with American artist Jeff Koons. A one-third scaled-down recreation of one of Koons's most famous works, the 1994 sculpture Balloon Dog, the new version stands forty centimetres high, and has been carefully recreated in porcelain, rather than brass. Limited to a run of 799 pieces, it coincides with Bernardaud’s 160th anniversary.
Other works in the exhibition include an installation by Colombe Faber, called From Paris to Dubai, that has been created from tableware pieces from Bernardaud and Christofle, while The Botanic Fantasy by Sabine Blanchard leans on giant flowers, crystal stems and golden petals as a reimagination of humanity.
“The beauty and elegance of French craftsmanship inspired my parents greatly and led to the opening of the first Christofle boutique in Damascus, Syria, in 1955, laying the foundation of our family business," said Patrick Chalhoub, group president of the Chalhoub Group.
"Today, more than 65 years later, I feel extremely humbled that we are still the first to uphold the heritage of French art de vivre, mindfully infused with the UAE’s modernity, at one of the Arab world’s foremost events.”