This New Shopping Destination Offers the Best of Parisian Lighting Designs
Helmed by New Orleans interior designer Valerie Legras, Swadoh features a curated selection of artisan pieces by revered French creators
“I always have been driven by materials,” says French designer Valerie Legras, who has been living in New Orleans for more than a decade. “I was trying to bring some of my country with me here. There is a lot of tradition in French savoir faire, but also a lot of innovation. I was intrigued by some of the creators I met in France who have some amazing talent and revisiting these techniques and bringing it to a different level.”
As Legras began incorporating pieces from these artisans abroad in the interiors she was cultivating in the U.S., she realized she had exciting opportunity to help introduce these unique creators to American designers and collectors. She launched Swadoh (an anagram of the word shadow) less than a year ago to not only give revered French designers like Céline Wright their first foothold in America, but also collaborate with artisans, such as Emilie Grière, to translate their unique materials into lighting fixtures. “We’re very happy to be the ambassador for these artisans here in the U.S.,” Legras tells Galerie.
Well-known in France, Wright launched her studio more than 20 years ago in Paris, creating handmade fixtures from white Japanese washi paper. She layers thousands of light-as-air sheets to craft ethereal, organic forms such as the cloud-like Nuage, aerodynamic Oiseau, and conical Envol, a poetic piece inspired by a heron about to take flight. Legras first contacted her to source a work for one of her interior design clients. “I wanted her product because they are beautiful and unique and made by hand, and there’s a true story behind her light fixtures,” Legras recalls. Discovering that there was no place in the U.S. to purchase one of the artist’s works set the wheels in motion for Swadoh.
From there, Legras connected with French artist Emilie Grière, who is blazing ground as a “silicone artisan,” cultivating an unprecedented soft-stone material made with natural silica and oxygen. “It has this natural elegance,” says Legras. “It has an amazing texture and is very delicate. It’s translucent—the way the light goes through, it’s just astonishing.”
Also included in Swadoh’s roster is award-winning designer Morgane Baroghel-Crucq, who creates otherworldly textiles incorporating silk, copper, and brass. “The way she weaves is very special, because as she’s weaving, she’s also hand-painting, so each piece is really one of a kind,” Legras tells Galerie. In France, Baroghel-Crucq’s work can be seen in the window displays of luxury retailers like Hermès. “She didn’t have any light fixtures, but the way she transformed her materials was very appealing to me so we collaborated with another artist who does the frame of the light and then she is doing the [textile] part.”
Coming soon are designs from paper artist Antonin Anzil and Baptiste Lanne, who works in wood, but Legras is determined to grow Swadoh slowly and deliberately, selecting and nurturing artisans whose work is one on a kind, evokes an emotional response, and embodies the French savoir faire. “What attracts me to all these people is their amazing creativity with materials, the way they use ancestral and traditional techniques and give it a new life,” Legras tells Galerie. “I wanted to turn the spotlight on these creators.”
This fall, Swadoh will debut a special collaboration between Wright and French-Japanese artist Tiffany Bouelle. “They’re both very strong women, they both have a Japanese background, and they are both extremely inspiring creative people,” says Legras. “Having these two amazing women, Céline and Tiffany, collaborating on an exceptional, one-of-a-kind piece, is really breathtaking.”