Decompartmentalise, brighten up, mismatch and sometimes even put function aside as you show off a piece and its aesthetics: The Socialite Family’s latest collaboration with WawwLaTable will liven up dinners with shimmering reflections, changing colours and organic accents. Glasses for water, wine or anything else, champagne flutes and precious decanters: there are no hard and fast rules in this elegant collection, designed to take the stress out of dining and brighten up the table. The perfect place to generously entertain in style, whatever the season. It’s also an opportunity for us to talk about this collection, which was designed by Constance Gennari, co-founder and Artistic Director of The Socialite Family, and Péri Cochin and Arabelle Reille, co-founders of WawwLaTable. The truth is at the bottom of the glass: combined interview.
It's a living tableau, a beautiful table
How did you meet and how did the idea of working together come about?
I really wanted to meet the duo from WawwLaTable! I came across a video featuring Pierre Passebon and his table, of course. The name alone excited me: it’s exactly the same feeling you get when you’ve set a fantastic table. The first guest arrives: “Wow! The table !” ». I thought I’d like to do something with WawwLaTable too. It’s a living tableau, a stunning table.
When we met, Constance, you immediately asked me for an interview. I remember saying to you: we’ll have to do a lot more together. It was very natural.
Then the four of us had lunch. And ideas started flowing.
What do you like about each other’s brands?
I love the concept of movement at The Socialite Family, where nothing is set in stone and everything is flexible. I also like the vintage twists, without forgetting the media and the featured families, of course. This notion of mixing pieces, blending past and present, while being firmly rooted in our own time, fits in well with the ‘mix and match’ style of our tables. Something old, something new. That’s the spirit we share.
I appreciate the fact that you use external content to create your own: it’s very enriching and inspiring, this way of featuring the places where families live. Seeing what’s going on in people’s lives satisfies the curiosity, while also providing useful, everyday ideas to create something else.
There are similarities between the way you photograph families in their own world and the way we film people at the dinner table. Both The Socialite Family and WawwLaTable have a through-the-keyhole approach, showing how people live their daily lives.
I love the cheekiness of WawwLaTable. Your way of presenting a table is off-beat. I also like your openness and generosity with the competitions you organise, which make people want to be part of your world. They’re proud of their tables, proud to show them off – it’s very inclusive! I like the idea of breaking boundaries with table presentation, with more naturalness and joy than tradition dictates.
In fact, I hate the term ‘table art’. We try to avoid it as much as possible. We’re trying to shake things up, not be judgmental but generous and fun! I often talk about table objects.
The idea is to take the hassle out of setting the table. With us, warm-heartedness is more important than “rules”, which are often inflexible. The most important thing is to please your guests and yourself. Let every table be a reflection of the person setting it!
Tell us about the production of the different parts.
Working on the sculpture of the stem took a lot of thought. I wanted something that was halfway between a precious object and a raw, organic sculpture, a little worn, like a small rock that fell off a cliff. We started by sculpting in plaster here at The Socialite Family, to come up with this finger-worked shape, like a small dented stone. It set the tone, so we took this shape and turned it into glass stems, glass decorations, carafe stoppers…
Our workshops are located in Tyre, in southern Lebanon. These are charity workshops run by a UNESCO-affiliated NGO. In this craft village, we’ve tried to bring together and reintroduce different skills that have disappeared from the region. Glass-blowing was invented by the ancient Phoenicians in this part of the world! It was they who sailed to Venice, where they taught their art to the Romans… My mother was born in Tyre. It was she who founded this association forty years ago and built this craft village a few years ago. The aim was threefold: to recreate these ancestral skills, to boost the regional economy and, lastly, to provide work and financial independence to people in difficulty, particularly women. We train a lot of people in this village, mostly women. Their lives have truly changed.
Our business (the craft village is exclusively dedicated to the production of WawwLaTable parts, Ed.) supports around a hundred families. The craftspeople here work with ceramics, screen printing, blown glass and painting on glass and ceramics. Each of these skills is made available to the designer of our new collaborations. All these forms of craftsmanship are constantly evolving and developing: each new collaboration is an opportunity for us to improve!
We briefly considered making moulds for this collaboration, to make the work easier: organic shapes are very complex to make, they’re not smooth, straight or just curved. Constance’s favourite “accidents” were a real challenge for us! So we decided to do everything by hand. To do this, you need to melt the base (about 45 minutes), then shape it, then blow off the top part, then weld the whole thing together. You can imagine the breakages!
How long does it roughly take a craftsperson to make a glass?
Each piece takes over an hour to complete. The two parts are blown separately and then welded together. Bear in mind that some colours are more difficult to work with than others: dark colours compared with light colours, for example, or opaline, which is much denser in itself, in its material, and therefore more difficult to blow. Then there’s an hour’s firing, followed by post-firing handling, cleaning, precision, checking… Not to mention the fact that we also faced a few technical challenges: the fusion between the small organic piece of solid glass and the thinner glass neck on the water glasses was difficult to achieve. The contact between the very dense glass of the little ‘rock’, as we call it, and the thin glass didn’t take. Materials are alive, they’re the ones that decide! The development of this collaboration has therefore been a rich learning curve.
Each piece is unique. No glass stem is identical.
Not to mention the work we had to do on getting them to balance: the first drawings were done freehand, and we immediately wondered how we could simply make these glasses stand on their stem! We did a great deal of research to ensure the stability of the glasses while retaining the very organic and irregular nature of their shapes. We’re all the prouder of these little works of art. And we appreciate the quality of the handmade craftsmanship.
Tell us about the choice of colours for this collaboration.
I picked some colours suggested by WawwLaTable, which I thought were beautiful, soft and lively. I’m particularly pleased with the effects of opaline! The pink and green are reminiscent of the opalines that decorated 19th-century Parisian interiors… but with very contemporary, clean and natural shapes. And all this precious, poetic glassware is just dying to be placed on your tables…
In WawwLaTable's partner workshops, located in Tyre, Lebanon, a craft village that supports a hundred families. They are trained in traditional skills. It takes over an hour to make a glass from The Socialite Family x WawwLaTable collaboration.
What was your shared desire regarding this collaboration?
For my part, I really wanted beautiful, colourful glasses to match, a jewel meets glass to be honest, rather than a simply functional table glass. My idea is you can buy a single glass, your own glass, which you can keep for yourself or which you set down, like a beautiful object.
We’re back to the notion of tableware! That’s what I liked about the collaboration: together we created an object that was almost like a sculpture, but at the same time functional and not limited by decorum.
What’s more, you can drink coffee or tea in them, or even make a soufflé if you like – these glasses are fired at a very high temperature and can therefore withstand heat. These are glasses for everything, not just wine, water or champagne!
Describe the spirit of this collaboration in a few words.
Sensual – you want to touch them, handle them, these glasses – they’re gourmet and with a vintage vibe.
Disruptive, original, creative.
Sculpted, cheeky and jewelled. I’ll also add with a Renaissance twist…
The WawwLaTable & The Socialite Family collaboration is now available on our website and in The Socialite Family shops in Paris: 12 rue Saint-Fiacre 75002; Bon Marché Rive Gauche, 24 rue de sèvres 75005; 54 rue Auguste Comte, 69002 Lyon. Glasses and carafe from 34 €, pre-launch price.
Photographies © Valerio Geraci | Propos recueillis par Elsa Cau @thesocialitefamily