History of Charles Paris
La Maison Charles was established by Ernest Charles at the former Ullmann bronze works in 1908. Having gained his reputation and work experience in the casting of bronze, he went on to reproduce antique lighting until the company was taken over by his son Emile Albert Charles in 1923. In 1932, Emile‘s brother Pierre becomes part of the company and it continues to be known by „Charles Frères“ into the 50s. By the end of the 50s, Emile Charles‘ sons Jean and Jacques join the team, one being a graduate of l‘école Boulle and the other an interior designer educated in Applied Arts.
In the year 1960, Charles buys Maison Pierre Fargette, which was a renowned lighting design house in Paris. In the early 60s, Jean and Jacques begin to develop the „Maison Charles Style“, which blends classicism with a distinct hint of the contemporary. It is especially Jean‘s wife Chrystiane Charles, a bronze artist and sculptor, who goes on to develop the company‘s most legendary pieces such as the Ananas, Epi De Maïs, Pomme De Pin, Lotus or Medici Vase. The 1965 Inox Collection by Jacques Charles would also advance as century-defining thanks to the tubular stainless steel it featured such as in the Organ Lamp, which boasts iconic status today.
In the 1970s, Emile Charles and both his sons pass away. In 1971 Chrystiane takes on the responsibility of artistic director at Charles Paris and introduces her own collection of classicist, sculptural lamps based on natural motifs in the following year. In 1978, Charles Paris is given its first, but not last Lampe d‘Or award at the Parisian International Lighting Fair for Chrystiane Charles‘ design Feuille d‘Eau.
Another Lampe d‘Or is awarded to the company in 1981. In the year after that, licensed architect Laurent Charles begins to participate in the family-owned business, which results in the creation of a novel collection deriving inspiration from geometric and graphic studies on light. Two years later, Charles Paris joins the Comité Colbert, a collective of leading French companies, and wins yet another Lamp d‘Or, this time for Laurent Charles‘ Colisée lamp.
In the 1990s, Charles Paris receives further accolades. The year 2001 is marked by the company‘s acquisition by Michael Wagner, who becomes its president and makes the Christofle workshops in Paris Saint-Denis the new location of Maison Charles.
From the beginning of the 21st century until today, Maison Charles has witnessed events such as Philippe Parent becoming its new artistic director in 2006 and a range of very notable designers joining the team. In 2014, the artistic direction was taken over by Emmanuel Bossuet.
Maison Charles: Award-Winning Quality of One of France‘s Most Reputed Companies
This manufacturer is one of France‘s oldest and has earned a serious reputation in bronze casting ever since Ernest Charles began its history. Every bronze is made in the company‘s in-house foundry, employing the sand molding method in which a halved single-use mold is utilized to cast the object, which is based on an artists‘s wood or plastic model.
Next in the process, a chaser takes the piece out of the foundry and removes burrs from the metal. For polished surfaces, a cloth is applied and other tools such as chisels, scribers, files etc. made by the artisan are used to add each decorative element with precision and skill.
Another step in the process involves putting the cylindrical section of the light on a lathe to add a decorative motif, which is obtained from a wheel the turner places there manually.
Then, the piece needs to be assembled, involving parts taken out of the foundry or brass plates and tubes, which are joined with flaws in the cold-mounting method or welded with the help of heat in the brazing technique.
Polishing is a further important stage. The products of Maison Charles are widely known for their sophisticated, fine decorative details to be found on the metal. First, they are carefully polished, cleaned, treated with acid and sometimes varnish to ensure the products‘ longevity. The object is subjected to a thorough preparation for the application of the finish. The polishing paste itself is obtained from a rotating drum and then the piece is put into an ultrasonic tank containing a watery solution to clean it further. Finally, the piece is cleaned electrolytically for complete removal of black deposits on the bronze.
In the gilding step of the process, the piece is first prepared by polishing and cleaning, then dipped into washes giving them their 24k gold, silver, medal, bronze or gunmetal finishes. To obtain a glossy or matte effect, they are further burnished with an agate stone and get patinated.
Charles Paris: Timeless Elegance of Masterpieces Made to Last
Maison Charles both offers indoor lighting (chandeliers, pendants, lanterns, ceiling lights, wall lights, table and floor lamps), limited edition lamps and furniture such as coffee tables, console tables and occasional tables, as well as statuettes.
The products of this company have a signature style synonymous with Maison Charles, its 1950s pieces enjoying wide popularity among vintage enthusiasts and those who love neoclassicism or Hollywood Regency among other styles.
The emblematic bronze and brass Corail Table Lamp by Maison Charles Paris was born out of an idea Jacques Charles had when he was looking at a coral branch at the beach, which he found to be complete despite its randomness and imperfection. The 1970s concept was later redesigned by Philippe Parent to fit with modern requirements.
Another astounding piece by Maison Charles is its Palazzo Table Lamp. This marvellous lamp, which has the design of two Gingko Biloba leaves, was cast out of bronze and finished with a gold patina. Inspired by her love of plants and the enigmatic character of Venetian palace architecture, well-known ceramicist Joelle Fèvre created this piece for Maison Charles, transferring her rich knowledge of working with porcelain to the versatile bronze material.