Assisted by a team of nine people, in his studio located in the centre of Paris, the glassmaker Bernard Pictet has been working with decorators and architects from all over the world since 1981.
Above left: portrait of Bernard Pictet © Christine Sollers. Above left: Quinta Essentia yacht – Architect Michaela Reverberi – ©Ateliers Bernard Pictet
Bernard Pictet never stops exploring the surprising potential of glass. He has been working as a glassmaker for nearly forty years. After studying law, he took over Jean-Gabriel Druet’s workshop, with whom, for two years, he learned to work with this volatile material. Glass has very strict manufacturing rules. “Respect these rules and it will be the freest material available because it can take on any form, appearance or function. Drift away from these rules the slightest… it will break!”, he says.
Decorators, architects and artists often have this all-round talent that is created outside of fashion trends and without stylistic or aesthetic blinkers. Bernard works with glass using many cold working techniques. His glasses are shattered with a chisel, gilded with gold leaf, engraved, acidified, silvered, coloured, metallized, silkscreened, scraped, notched, superimposed… He defines himself as totally out of the ordinary and hopes that the originality and uniqueness of his works give them a real durability. He finds his inspiration in art – more particularly in contemporary art – as well as searching for motifs in fields other than glass.
Bernard Pictet also likes to distort technical glass to adapt it to interior architecture. For Firmenich, a flavour and fragrance manufacturer, Bernard Pictet used laboratory glass. He made a wall of giant test tubes containing aromatic components. For Louis Vuitton’s headquarters in Paris, he used structural glass. He created bright glass beams 11 metres long. The glassmaker also adapts the principle of Fresnel lenses, for a purely decorative effect in several projects. He also is inspired by the “motor-eye-kinetic art” movement, born around 1950, and represented by artists such as Soto, Riley, Vasarely. He creates kinetic glasses – for which he filed a patent – that gives a sensation of movement when the spectator moves. One such example is the 10,000m² glass roof in front of the Amiens’ train station, designed by Claude Vasconi. Another is the twenty-five silver kinetic glass partitions in the BNP Paribas branch near Opéra, Paris, created by the architectal agency Zoévox.
Similarly, at France’s EDF headquarters, he integrates video images into a kinetic glass ribbon, which gives the impression that the image moves freely inside the glass. This was done in partnership VIDE – Vibrant Design – a media designer. Bernard believes that a work is successful when it is surprising, and when its originality makes people forget the work behind the creation and the techniques used.
Bernard Pictet is called upon all over the world for luxury projects. Luxury residences, yachts, head offices, hotels, luxury houses… Hermès, Chanel, Dior, Guerlain, Cartier, Chaumet, Goyard, Mikimoto, and the Taschen bookshop in Los Angeles (designed by architect Philippe Starck) are amongst his clients. Export accounts for 80% of his activity. At Tour Odéon in Monaco, he made huge engraved ice creams for the lobbies and the underground spa. These two spaces were decorated by the Alberto Pinto agency. Consequently, the interior designer Laura Gonzalez called on him to create the glass for the Cartier boutiques in London’s Harrods and Paris’ Place Vendôme. His glasses will also decorate the Cartier boutiques in Shanghai and San Francisco, which are set to open their doors soon.
Bernard has also created exceptional furniture: a coffee table in glass, ebony and mica; bookcases in marsh oak and glass. On another occasion it was a folding screen in glass, lacquer (Mireille Herbst) and tulipwood, with the cabinetmaker Ludwig Vogelgesang.
Mega yachts are Bernard’s favourite projects. In 2019, he worked on the glass for a 108m yacht and he has also just completed one of 95m. This sector represents about 30% of his work. He has created glass for 29 mega yachts to date.
He participates regularly in exhibitions such as Art de vivre à la française in Moscow and New York, and Decorex in London. This is as well as at art and design fairs in Paris, such as Révélations at the Grand Palais and the AD Intérieurs and AD Matières d’art. He exhibited at the last Monaco Yacht Show on a stand directed by the architect François Zuretti, with four other craftsmen. They were the marble factory Fochesato, Jouffre, Ludwig & Dominique and Manufacture de tapis de Bourgogne – all of whom have been presented with the prestigious Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant award.
His latest work will soon be unveiled in Chanel boutiques at Houston, Phoenix, Abu Dhabi, Moscow and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports. In Paris, he created the glass for the Guerlain boutique and two suites in the Cheval Blanc hotel (the former Samaritaine) which will open soon. From April 3-13 2020, his work will be exhibited at the Palais d’Iéna in Paris as part of the second edition of AD Matières d’art.
The workshop has been awarded the label Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant since 2008. His workshop is known for the diversity and originality of its works.
Bernard Pictet also has expert knowledge of the material’s resistance as well as particular applications, such as structural glass, and vector glass.
He believes that a work is successful when it is surprising and when its originality makes people forget the work that was put into the creation and the techniques used.
It is this multidimensional character of the workshop that has made it so successful. It is also the quality of the workshop’s productions: the talent of the craftsmen and the purity of the glass work hand-in-hand to create a beautiful product.