The Financial Times interviews Silvio Denz, the Swiss perfume magnate who is now also the owner of many companies, including Lalique. He has several homes, including houses in Richmond, near London, Cannes, Switzerland and a Bordeaux chateau. He’s also an art collector:
You have a very important collection of Lalique glassware. When did you start collecting and why?
In the 1990s I saw some early René Lalique perfume bottles at an auction in Geneva and immediately fell for these superb, fragile and rare pieces. I bought 10. I’ve now bought three major collections and added many more unique and important pieces. My collection will be exhibited in the new René Lalique museum in Wingen-sur-Moder, France, which opens next year in celebration of Lalique’s 150th birthday. Coincidentally, my company had the opportunity to acquire Lalique early last year. The decision was purely based on commercial considerations rather than emotional ones.
Is art an important element at your homes?
Art and architecture are my passions. I’ve been collecting art for 20 years from the Baroque (Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder) to impressionists (Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, Amedeo Modigliani), art deco (Tamara de Lempicka) to more contemporary artists (Lucio Fontana, Sam Francis, Andy Warhol, Arman, José-María Sicilia, Claudio Parmiggiani, Terry Rodgers). I bought an art gallery in Saint-Paul de Vence a few years ago. Although I’ve now sold it I’m still active in the art business.
What kind of style and ambience do you try and create in a property?
I try to adapt the furnishings and artwork to each property. The house in Zurich includes a lot of art deco paintings and work by Swiss artists. My collection of René Lalique perfume bottles is also there. My home in Richmond contains mainly contemporary art because of its modernism. The house in Cannes has contemporary art and impressionists. Château Faugères is similarly furnished, with contemporary art connected to nature. I don’t like flamboyant and heavy furniture, curtains or chandeliers and prefer a simple, sleek and very contemporary style with a touch of art deco. I feel the focus should be on the art’s expressiveness and not on the furniture.
“Art and Architecture Are My Passions” (Financial Times)