Francisco Morales - La Main Française - Guide de l'artisan contemporain

Francisco Morales Valenzuela’s poetic work : Between refinement and excellence.

Between refinement and excellence

It was during the Carrousel du Louvre, last December, that an exceptional piece captured our attention: a silver vase as precious and delicate as lace. Francisco Morales Valenzuela, Art craftsman, is its author. He is one of the very few silversmiths in France – only a small dozen of them remain to perpetuate this discipline! He is also a jeweler and likes to combine both of his savoir-faire. We asked him about his career, his inspirations and of course, his brand new collection.

Date: 23 February 2019
City: Paris
Artisan: Francisco Morales Valenzuela
Francisco, how did you become a jeweler?

Francisco

When I was a child, I felt the desire to be a silversmith. I discovered Benvenuto Cellini’s work, who is a famous Italian goldsmith from the Renaissance, and I remember being completely mesmerized by this discipline. Later on, I was advised to study jewelry, since goldsmithery was no longer taught in France. I then had a pretty classic academic and professional career and studied jewelry at the École du Louvre. Then, I worked for subcontracting workshops that collaborated with brilliant brands such as Cartier, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, Motomiko…

How long does it take to master your work?

Francisco

Like most applied Art disciplines, I would say it takes between ten to fifteen years to develop a legitimate expertise. After that, one can finally start exploring one’s own work, even though it will certainly take a whole life to master it.

What was your best experience within the world of haute-couture jewelry?

Francisco

My experience with Dominique Huygues Despointes was a turning point in my career. He is an exclusive and elusive jeweler with an atypical approach to magnetizing clientele to his practice, as the majority of his clients are referred to him by word of mouth. The way he saw our discipline inspired me a lot. In his workshop, I learned to trust myself in terms of technique, as well as artistically. I even started to contemplate the idea of creating my own studio.

What are the difficulties in your line of work?

Francisco

When working for someone, the challenge resides in the interpretation of the artist’s concept. It requires knowing how to read their drawing and translating it in volume, while integrating technical elements. It demands a certain form a sensitivity and solid technical skills.

When working for ourselves,  what gets to be challenged and expanded is our ability to source financial funding to bring the creations to life ! [laughs]

You have recently created a brand of both jewelry and silversmithing in your own name. Can you tell us about that adventure?

Francisco

Upon the conception of the brand, I was managing a workshop for one of the biggest brands of the Place Vendôme in Paris, which is a very coveted position in our line of work. Still, my desire to be creative had become urgent. Moreover, my dream to become a silversmith burned brighter and brighter within me! I quit my job and went to Wales to train with Rauni Higson – a renowned British silversmith. When I got back to France, I started drawing my first collection, created my studio and my brand.

Can you tell us about your collection?

Francisco

I’ve created a jewellery collection named Omamori as well as a silversmithery collection called À l’ombre des cerisiers. Both were inspired by a Japanese technique – the Kumiko, which are wooden lattices designed for the inside of Japanese panels. I have always felt a special affinity for metal lacework, like the Italian brand Buccellati does, for instance. When I discovered the Kumiko, I realized how interesting it could be in terms of creativity. I started drawing and the collection was born shortly after.

“I aim to convey simplicity, contrast and harmony through my creations.”

What do you want to convey through your creations?

Francisco

In my work, there is always a certain form of duality between simplicity and complexity. I often work different materials and textures for that reason. With the Omamori collection, I have mixed two textures: there is a polished part and a sandblasted one. It is an artistic choice that allows me to express that duplicity, as well as highlight certain details of my design. I aim to convey simplicity, contrast and harmony through my creations. As I feel it, true luxury exemplifies and embodies these values.

What do you like about your job?

Francisco

I enjoy the creative process very much. I like to imagine an object and bring it to life. It is a significant aspect of my work, especially at my scale.

I also really enjoy working the material.  I enjoy a special relationship with metal, most notably in silversmithing because I get to work on larger surfaces. Whatever the medium, a material is bound by the limitations of its basic properties… As a craftsman, my role is to explore beyond its boundaries and play with how far I can stretch the inherent capacity of the materials to create an astounding piece. It is deeply humbling work.

Which creation are you most proud of?

Francisco

The vase, À l’ombre des cerisiers, which I crafted for my first collection. It is the first silversmithing piece I imagined, designed and produced. I was very happy to combine both skillsets within that piece. It also resonates with the childhood promise I had made to myself.

What are your future ambitions?

Francisco

I wish to make more complex and more ambitious pieces of silversmithing. One of my upcoming projects is a large candelabra meant to be a centerpiece for a table, in addition to its attendant, complementary accessories.

I would like to continue creating works born from my muses and inspirations. I exclusively create limited editions for that reason: I desire most of all to continue to evolve as an artist!

Did you enjoy discovering this craftsman?

Contact him
· Credits · Text : Aurélia Monge – Editor : Luna Granados –
Photography : Charlotte Pallud, Manchette by Oamori, elliott monge.
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