Hailing from contemporary Paris but with a fixation on global 17th and 18th century craftmanship and design, Jean-Christophe Miquel is himself other-worldly; an absolute embodiment of the paradoxes he seeks to capture through the brand he helms, Merci Louis. Merci Louis was one of the first brands we partnered with upon launching Love After Love after meeting Jean-Christophe in the halls of Maison Objet, the pre-eminent European design and trade fair. "JC" as he is known, drew us in, in his own quiet, genteel but whimsical way. Though softly spoken, his sense of creativity and play seduced us both as did his expertise and attention to detail for the beautiful, classic yet fun pieces he creates. You've already fallen in love with his imagination, now fall in love with the man. Lovers? Meet Jean-Christophe Miquel.
Jean-Christophe, tell us the story of you. Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
I had a great childhood, was born in France close to Paris and moved to Minnesota, USA from 5 to 10 years old, then came back to France, spent one year in the east of France, then relocated close to Paris again. I was very lucky to broaden my mind to different cultures, different people, different landscapes, that is very inspirational to develop curiosity … and learn easily a second language!
Who/What was your first great love? What does love look like to you?
I remember immediately falling in love with the wide-open spaces of America, the sense of freedom and the importance of a free spirit it generates. On a very conceptual level and as an essential in my life, ‘Love’ is a beautiful and sacred word and cannot be betrayed!
Tell us the story of Merci Louis.
Merci Louis is 10 years old! But it grew steadily in my mind for many years before I decided to raise the curtain and reveal my first creations. "Merci Louis" are two words easy to remember, and a tribute to all the crowned Louis. I’ve always loved to create objects, renew old pieces, fill up my homes with discoveries and treasures found while ‘hunting’ very early in the morning at flea markets. Merci Louis made this dream become reality.
What were you doing before you started Merci Louis?
I worked many years in the world of luxury, the very demanding school of excellence!
Can you tell us a bit about what a typical working day is like for you? What is your role within the business?
Love with no limits!... Many hours, many days, nights, countless ideas, numerous notebooks of sketches and drawings, too many boxes full of fabrics and other swatches and samples. I imagine and manage all from A to Z. A new product can be modified endlessly until I believe it is correct; I will never let a product be shipped to a customer without my approval of quality or finish of its aspect. My pleasure to create must be my customer’s pleasure to receive and sell.
When did your love affair with the 17th and 18th centuries begin? What is it about this period that you are so inspired by and why do you think your customers resonate with this now?
My mother was in love with antiques. As a small boy, I was inevitably with her when she went to Mr Vichard’s old workshop to find a piece of furniture or an old painting. I wandered within the alleys, discovered shapes, styles, colors, craftmanship, smell of turpentine, wax, dust, time. Impossible to forget these moments!
The XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries are all around us. Royal courts have created an endless golden cultural legacy based on successive inspiration inputs of new travels all around the world, in particular Asia, India. These courts have attracted the best craftsmen in arts, architecture, music, in the best techniques for furniture, stone, clothing, food, trees and gardens, … These are the centuries of not only excellence, but also exuberance, extravagance.
To meet today’s customers’ expectations, Merci Louis keeps its free spirit to plays with paradoxes, providing products that combine history and modernity, classicism and present.
Texture is a key feature in so many of your designs. Why is patina and texture so important to you?
Even if a product is new, I like to provide a well-worn aspect, and spend a lot of time to determine and finalize the texture and patina that will make sense and provide an accurate, authentic product.
Our best-selling piece from the Merci Louis collection is without a doubt, the bulb shade. Can you tell us where the inspiration came from for these?
Do you think a bulb is aesthetic?! Why don’t you cover it up and make it become elegant and unusual?! In the 18th century castles, in between two candle-lit chandeliers were placed smaller chandeliers called ‘middle-chandeliers’, they did not carry any candle, but the facets of their pendants reflected the candle lights, enhancing and improving the luminosity of the whole room.
The bulb shade or bulb cover recalls this beautiful combination of crystal and light.
“Live your dreams rather than dream your life!" is the unofficial motto of Merci Louis. Tell us what this means to you.
Life happens only once, never give up a dream, make it come true, where’s the risk? be positive!!
We know you are a keen traveller, where is your favourite place in the world to visit? How does travel inform your work?
Travel is a must. It helps to provide so many lights on your life and plants hundreds of seeds in your mind for ideas and inspiration. Travel also means time for me, time to think, to prepare.
It is true that I travelled all around the world, I realize today that I do not know well my homeland, France, so from now on, this will be my favourite place to visit!
Besides travel, what else do you turn to for inspiration? 18th century music and all arts are two essential partners.
What’s next for Merci Louis in 2023/2024?
A declaration! in September 2023 around papier mâché and ornaments, all handmade and homemade! …
We always like to ask our guests to leave us with the name of their favourite book or a favourite line from a poem or song. Could you share yours with us? OR perhaps a favourite artist of yours?
I like very much ‘Le Montespan’ from the French writer Jean Teulé, describing the lifetime fight of the marquis de Montespan to claim back his beloved wife gone to the Royal court of France as the mistress of King Louis 14. Reading this book is a delight and a travel in time to understand, see, smell, hear the reality of this page of French history.
Are you surprised by this choice?!!