MEET OUR PARTNERS INTERVIEW
Armel Soyer Galerie has three locations in France; Paris, Megeve, and most recently in St-Tropez, tell us a little about who you are and what you do?
I launched Armel Soyer Galerie, a collectible design gallery ten years ago, in Paris. Having studied management & finance I worked in the luxury industry in France for Maison Lalique, the famous crystal manufacturer. I decided I wasn’t destined to be part of this universe with my personal taste pushing me to live off my passion.
It was a challenge to start from scratch without any formal academic art background or family involved in the art business but my interest in art was strong. It always had an appeal and I had a particular sensitivity: from the age of fifteen, I used all my free time, travelling worldwide visiting museums, flea markets, auctions, and chatting with antique dealers.
With time what seemed to be a vintage design universe progressed and transformed into a contemporary universe. I was refining what was going to become the ‘Armel Soyer Galerie’.
You represent artists from all around the world, including France. How do you select the artists you collaborate with and represent?
My initial idea when creating Armel Soyer Galarie was to promote French know-how throughout the world. I was always fascinated and mesmerized by the French ateliers, the expertise, and the history behind furniture manufacturing. After being in my profession for a while, and selling to clients worldwide, I realised that the art market absolutely has no frontiers with amazing talent and beautiful techniques found all around the world.
Today I have as many international artists as French. My artist selection is based on creativity & technical ingenuity. When choosing artists my objective is to offer something unique, the power to transcend a material to create something outstanding. I always make sure that everyone has their own space and universe. I don’t want collectors to confuse an artist’s art piece with someone else’s. I always ask myself if it has been done before with my goal to write a new chapter of XXIst-century decorative arts with creative & timeless pieces.
How did your partnership with Christopher Boots come about?
When I sold two of Mathias Kiss crumpled mirrors in Australia, I did some research on Australian artists, discovering Christopher Boots on Instagram. I never choose an artist based on a picture, so I travelled to London to view Christopher Boots’ gorgeous Nepenthes installation. I believe that to really “understand” a piece of art you have to see it in real life, see its depth and materiality. I’m very attached to the quality of the craftsmanship.
I contacted Christopher Boots and asked if he thought it was possible to conceive a piece with smaller dimensions, more appropriate for French homes. Christopher didn’t hesitate to send me a chandelier to judge. I will always find it surprising how he put his trust in me so quickly. I guess it’s because he felt like I had something to offer him: my ideas and universe.
What have been some of the highlights of your partnership with Christopher Boots to date?
After the reception of the first piece Christopher Boots sent me, I was convinced of the quality of his work and his genius. I had no doubt how much it could bring to the European market. It was phenomenal and never seen before. We organized an exhibition at the Paris gallery in collaboration with Gilles Pernet’s tapestry with a central theme: this inner heat. We named the showcase “Feu Sacré” which translates to Sacred Fire: it expressed the strength, warmth, and the spiritual dimension of his work.
To this day, I remember opening another extraordinary piece of art that Christopher Boots had sent me for the opening of Galerie Armel Soyer in Megeve. It was an Orp crystal chandelier and the color gradient, from clear to smokey quartz, giving the illusion of fire – it was such a remarkable warm piece. It was surprising because crystals are often used in baroque style objects but the shape was so extreme and modern that it gave another dimension to the piece.
Christopher Boots had summarised in one piece everything I looked for: working around the preciosity of the material to make something full of life, moving but resolutely contemporary. Putting up the crystal ORP in the ferme de Prasset was enchanting, hypnotizing. I still thank Christopher for trusting me. He could have decided not to take the risk or take the minimum risk by sending me a small piece but he followed his intuition and sent me a masterpiece.
What are the key elements to a successful business relationship in your experience?
There are multiple key elements to a successful business relationship. Before anything, the relationship always has to be based on a win-win situation. The business relationship with an artist often takes a while to establish but translates into something long-term with a strong, steady foundation. This base allows us to create a name for the artist and to maintain their reputation.
We give our artists as much visibility as possible regularly so that people always have their name in their minds. To give the example with Christopher Boots we display key pieces in the Paris, Megeve, and now St Tropez galleries, as well as participate in the art fairs, such as PAD Paris and PAD Geneva.
We regularly change scenography, putting the same piece in a different context. A piece can feel totally different within another room, lighting, or place. To summarise it is important to have consistency and regularity when promoting an artist.
The business relationship with our clients is first and foremost built on interpersonal relationships. It is really important, particularly in a world where almost everything is online, to have human contact. This is especially true in France, where in addition to interior designers, we have many private collectors who enjoy designing their own interiors and choosing their own furniture. To build a long-lasting relationship it’s important to maintain a direct interaction.
Could you talk about a commission project that you have collaborated with Christopher Boots?
The project that comes to mind is the commission of a four-meter-high chandelier for clients who are art collectors for their Chalet in the French Alps. After a year of building a relationship with them, the clients challenged me to find an idea to fill the space above their dining table, a seven-meter void
Overall the space had a lot of blue tint to it and as Christopher loves to work with precious stones such as the Lapis Lazuli or Malachite it was perfect to suggest his contribution to the project. Christopher imagined this incredible Phasmida chandelier with Lapis Lazuli to accentuate the blue of the room. I can now say that Christopher’s piece highlighted the most incredible contemporary chalet in Megeve.
This is a great example of what I love doing: being in contact with my clients, taking the time to build a relationship, and finding the most amazing pieces for them. In summary, creating something unique!
Images Courtesy of Armel Soyer. Photography by Gilles Pernet