Arts & Crafts

Manuela Paul-Cavallier

Gold means Light. This precious metal is magnificently sensual, coming from the depths of the earth. It features a thousand ever-changing and surprising reflections of our world.

A true craftswoman, Manuela Paul-Cavallier uses gold leaf in exceptional creations, whether reinventing luxury objects or creating her own works.


Updated on 17/04/2019

2 min

Trained at the University of Art History in Florence, Manuela Paul-Cavallier then enrolled at an arts school where she graduates with a degree in gilding. In the Italian aesthetic world, marked by the Renaissance, she continued to perfect her craft by working with gold artisans in Tuscany, who passed on their expertise in ancient techniques. She began to work on her own in 1992.

After having qualified to restore the gilding in French museums in 2008, in 2012 she put her experience to work for her own artistic creations.

Today, Manuela Paul-Cavallier describes herself as a "creator of gold materials" and designs patinas for designers and decorators, applying gold to both precious and everyday materials such as leather, wood, stone and even straw. Her work is characterised by the combination of traditional methods and contemporary aesthetics.

The top designer brands have used Manuela Paul-Cavallier's expertise to create gold materials. Through this work she has created exceptional objects, such as candles decorated with strips of gold for the Quintessence brand or trophies for Airbus. In response to a proposal from Yves Saint-Laurent Beauté, she designed a limited edition golden bottle for their Opium perfume.

Manuela Paul-Cavallier creates works of art in their own right. Her paintings mix gold leaf and pigment as in the Blue Fingerprints (“Empreintes bleues”) triptych (2014), in Sails of Gold (“Voiles d'or”) (2013), created on ship sails. Her sculptures are made of materials covered with gold leaf, such as the solid oak of ZaK (2012).

At the Villa Kujoyama, where she was a resident in 2014, Manuela Paul-Cavallier discovered traditional Japanese art, which strongly influenced her latest creations, such as Zen Garden (“Jardin Zen”) (2015) or Hakusasonso (2015), in which she applies black pigments to gold leaf, leaving a wide visible brush stroke that recalls those of traditional calligraphy.

During the residency, Manuela Paul-Cavallier collaborated with the Petit Théâtre de Lumière, designed by French designer Goliath Dyèvre, and made up of geometric tin shapes covered with gold leaf created at the Seikado workshop in Kyoto. The work was presented at the D’Days 2015 at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.

  • 1992


    Manuela Paul-Cavallier begins her gilding career by training with Italian craftsmen.

  • 2008


    Musées de France authorises Manuela Paul-Cavallier to restore national heritage gilding.

  • 2012


    She starts to design unique luxury materials and objects for designers.

  • 2014


    Manuela Paul-Cavallier is a resident at the Villa Kujoyama, in Kyoto.

  • 2016


    The Palais de Tokyo presents Manuela Paul-Cavallier's works as part of the “Double Je” exhibition, which brings together craftsmen and artists around the eponymous short story by Franck Thilliez.

The Institut français and the artist

In 2014, Manuela Paul-Cavallier was selected to spend time at the Villa Kujoyama, a residency for artists in Japan supported by the Institut français. The product of her residency, she then presented Little Theatre of Light (“Petit Théâtre de Lumière”) as part of D'Days and a “Back from Kyoto” exhibition.


Learn more about the Villa Kujoyama.

L'institut français, LAB