March 30, 2013 | Speech of the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia | Art de Vivre à la Française

“Your Excellencies, Mr. President of the CAFS, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
I am very happy to welcome you this evening, with my friend Mohammed Ben Laden, president of the CAFS, for the inauguration of the exhibition Art de vivre à la française, and for the gala dinner specifically prepared for this occasion, by the Michelin-starred chef from the Ritz Hotel at Place Vendôme in Paris, Michel Roth.

Through this exhibition, France is sharing its Art de Vivre in Riyadh, showcasing the creations of over 25 French companies. This prestigious exhibition follows in the footsteps of the traveling exhibit “ART DE VIVRE A LA FRANÇAISE” which UBIFRANCE has organized throughout the world for several years (in Abu Dhabi, New York, Moscow, and New Delhi). The exhibition is directed to professionals and individuals who appreciate the quality of French style in decoration. For this new edition, Saudi Arabia was a natural choice, with its strong penchant for French design.

The furnishings revolve around outdoor furniture by EGO Paris, traditional furniture and chairs by HENRYOT & Cie, contemporary customized furniture and fittings by SIGébène, wood and glass marquetry by SYLVAIN BULOT, and finely crafted furniture by TAILLARDAT.

The lighting features bronze craftsmanship: finely crafted lighting and ironwork designed by BAGUES; the grandly styled and sand casted collection of LUCIEN GAU; pieces in zinc, copper, and solid brass completely handcrafted by LUM’ART; perfect reproductions of lighting and bronze furniture that have made history, by TISSERANT.

Fabrics and trimmings shimmer in all their dazzle with HOULÈS, the renowned designer and maker of soft furnishings, decorative rodding, and upholstery fabrics. NOBILIS endeavors to express the sensibilities of contemporary artists in the wallpaper and fabric collections it makes; LELIEVRE owns the prestigious silk mill Tassinari & Chatel in Lyon, adding a touch of dream for four generations; PIERRE FREY draws its inspiration from a remarkable collection of archives to design and make fabrics, wallpaper, rugs, and furniture in the purest of French tradition; ROBERT FOUR – MANUFACTURE D’AUBUSSON, the heir of the Manufacture Royale (royal factory) created by Louis XIV, has woven the portraits of the greatest heads of state of Saudi Arabia; SABINA FAY BRAXTON offers exuberant extrapolations of ancient hand-printed textile techniques.

The art of entertaining is an integral part of the French art of living. This art will be represented by BERNARDAUD, a mainstay from Limoges, the birthplace of porcelain; CHRISTOFLE, the silversmith that has been a symbol of luxury and elegance since the 19th century, enriching its collection with contemporary design trends; ERCUIS RAYNAUD, which combines its expertise in porcelain and silverware to offer decorative pieces and sets—predesigned and custom made-to-order—remaining true to tradition.

Decoration put together with all kinds of forms: original paintings and high quality art prints by ARTASA, perfectly crafted wrought ironwork by POUENAT FERRONNIER for furniture, lighting, and fittings; luxury faucet fittings and bathroom accessories by SERDANELI.

There’s CHAUMET as well, the legendary jeweler and watchmaker, and the prestigious house of ST DUPONT, whose master craftsmen have been creating luxury accessories from the finest materials for 140 years.

In particular, I would like to thank the two main sponsors of this event: LEGRAND, one of the biggest world names in electrical and digital building infrastructure, and TANAGRA, a true ambassador for refinement, representing four prestigious art of living brands: Baccarat, Bernardaud, Chaumet, and Christofle, which have provided all their support to organizing this event.

I would also like to thank Banque Saudi Fransi and the Areva group for their support tonight, as well as Maison BO-M in Riyadh for its support in preparing this event.

I’d like to remind you that the French luxury industry includes large groups such as LVMH and Gucci Group that cover several sectors, modestly sized independent houses, providers and subcontractors, as well as craftsmen and makers. This industry employs over 100,000 people in France, and exports account for over 75% of sales. It’s the leading export industry outside of the European Union. French luxury has unrivaled historical capital. The “France” image is strong, and top companies give it a lead in both market share and renown. Some companies here already have partners in Saudi Arabia. Many other companies are looking for partners. I’m sure they’ll find the partners they’re searching for.

As for Saudi Arabia, it has 29 million inhabitants and strong purchasing power. Refinement is part of its culture, which is completely in phase with the French art of living. We already have a strong presence in Saudi Arabia in this sector. There is no doubt that this event will contribute to developing our art of living in the heart of the Saudis. In any case, this is my heartfelt wish.

I also hope that this evening will be an opportunity for you to go for a plunge in the world of French luxury. This luxury is greatly admired around the world, as proven by the record number of foreign visitors to our beautiful country.

Thank you. Enjoy the evening!”

French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia