A Network of Light: Behind the Bespoke Chandelier in Cockerill Castle in Seraing
Belgian designer Annick Schotte revives traditional craftsman practices in Wallonia through her detailed art installation and crystal chandelier at Cockerill Castle.
‘Designing a chandelier is a rare and joyful occasion, about light and reflection, as well as the challenge of finding a balance within it’ – Annick Schotte
The Liege/Seraing municipality in Wallonia has an interesting history, to say the least. Back in the 19th century, the area used to be the central location for crystal manufacturing in Europe and was home to craftsmen at the best glass blowers and glass cutters in the world. Nowadays, the area still has many protected heritage sites that reflect on this rich history, amongst which the Cockerill Castle, which used to be the summer residence of the prince-bishops of Liège, then a hospital under Napoleon, a powder magazine, and the personal property ofWilliam I of the Netherlands, who finally ceded it to the Cockerill family, who owned the main mining site in this region, in 1817.
Following its renovation, the entrance hall of Cockerill Castle is equipped with a newly installed and impressive two-and-a-half meters long structure that welcomes visitors into its vast historical interior. Attached to a network of stainless steel loops that unravel from the ceiling, twelve crystal cones – each engraved with two rows of x-shaped patterns – allow the iridescent light of a LED ceiling light to beam through their core. This creates, as designer Annick Schotte describes it, “a network of light rays”. Holder of a Masters Degree in Industrial Design, Schotte lives and works in Tournai, Belgium and a professor at ESA St Luc Tournai.
The chandelier is the product of Schotte’s participation and research within the ‘Résonnances’ project from Wallonie Design — a programme that aims to promote traditional craftsmanship and its evolution in the 21st century. On participating in this project and its value to the community, Schotte said that “Crafts and art companies have a wealth of precious craft techniques to share in the community – their public commissions for cultural spaces are thus a wonderful way to perpetuate this unique heritage of our territory.”
For her commission, Schotte worked together with craftsmen from Val St Lambert (a crystal manufacturer which has been operating on the site of an old Cistercian abbey since 1826). Looking back at her first meeting, Schotte remembers how she and Michel Bouckellyoen, the crystal cutter at Val St Lambert, became engaged in a series of experimental contemporary pieces. Through this workshop, the collaboration ended up with a series of sharp observations and endless fascination for the reflection of light from bevelled, carved shapes — quickly leading to the commission of creating a chandelier. The commission was led by interior designer Laurence Glorieux, who was in charge of the renovation and interior arrangement of the Castle Cockerill.
Cover Photo: Annick Schotte by Heloïse Rouard
Album Photos : Studio Tekhné