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21 Ultimate Gifts 2013: Design Intervention


A five-piece collection of three furnishings and two light fixtures, designed exclusively for the recipient by Hervé Van der Straeten.

Starting at $460,000

™For Hervé Van der Straeten, the process of creating a new piece of furniture is a joyful occasion. The Parisian designer—whose limited-edition light fixtures and furnishings are highly collectible and exceedingly elusive—begins each piece with a simple drawing that captures the spirit of the intended result. “I don’t work with a computer; I hand-sketch everything,” Van der Straeten says. “It gives me more freedom and allows me to convey the energy of the piece. As it goes through production, it is very important to me that the final piece always maintains the joyfulness of that very first sketch.”

With this gift, Van der Straeten is spreading the joy by offering one Robb Report reader the rare opportunity to commission an exclusive five-piece collection. The set will comprise three furnishings and two lighting pieces, each of which will be conceived specifically for the client’s home and will never be replicated elsewhere.

After consulting with the recipient to assess his or her needs, as well as the layout and overall style of the home in question, Van der Straeten will create a series of sketches conveying his vision for the pieces. “When I design for someone, I take into consideration the whole space,” he says. “I have very strong ideas of what I feel is right for a specific room, and above all, the pieces must relate to their surroundings.”

Van der Straeten—whose works are available in the United States through the Ralph Pucci gallery in Manhattan—produces his furnishings and fixtures at his atelier in Bagnolet, France. His designs blend bold materials (bronze, lacquered parchment, and alabaster, to name a few) with traditional craft (the space features its own dedicated cabinet- and bronze-making workshops). Through the use of contrasting materials and shapes, pieces such as the Piercing table, a stainless-steel-and-red-lacquer console that was featured in Robb Reports August 2012 issue, appear lightweight and substantial at the same time.

While Van der Straeten’s oeuvre is unmistakably modern, the artist insists that his designs are diverse enough to blend into almost any room. “If you put my pieces next to 19th-century furniture, the level of craft and quality is the same, and it works rather nicely,” he says. “But if you put the same piece next to something very sharp and edgy, it will also work in a very radical way.”

For this project, Van der Straeten will put the collection’s original sketches through what he calls “the process of studying,” which entails intense scrutiny by the designer and his team of 30 in-house artisans. Each subsequent step—from welding bronze into sinuous shapes to hand-carving wood—will be executed with meticulous attention to detail. The process to complete each piece will take hundreds of hours of manual labor, with the time required ultimately determining the final price of the gift.

This gift also comes with the opportunity to attend a VIP sneak preview of Van der Straeten’s forthcoming collection, scheduled to debut in Paris in the spring. Even more joyful, perhaps, will be Van der Straeten’s final delivery to the recipient: the original sketches of each of the collection’s five pieces, signed by the designer.

Galerie Hervé Van der Straeten, Benoit Bardelli, +, www.vanderstraeten.fr

Travel costs and arrangements associated with the gift are the responsibility of the recipient.