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Once upon a time there was a boy who chanced upon a secretive underground cavern, full of marvels and bewitched items, amongst which – a fabulous enchanted lamp… As it was very dirty, he began scrubbing it, when instantly a hideous genie appeared from within and asked:  “What wouldst thou with me?” No, wait! That’s the story of “Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp” I’m telling you. Well, Monsieur Ara’s tale is strikingly similar but only better, as in it you can get your hands on dozens of enchanted lamps, rather than on just one! Welcome to his Cave of Wonders…

The shop window of Lumière de l’Oeil

Now this is the real story of Monsieur Ara – a contemporary magician, a mysterious alchemist and the owner of a small lighting shop and museum, located 4, Rue Flatters in Paris.

Monsieur Ara in his little paradise

Born in Istanbul, in an Armenian family of amateur musicians, Ara Kebapciouglu decided to leave Turkey in 1971 and to resume his studies abroad. He spent the following eight years in Frankfurt, Germany studying chemistry, when he decided he was never meant to become a chemist and began looking for new perspectives for the future. He was 26, when one day…

Chance put an old lamp on my way. In October 1976, I found a Bakelite lamp on the sidewalk, brought it to my student’s room and restored it.

That’s how Monsieur Ara’s quest for Light began, only by a twist of destiny.

The “arrière-boutique” of Monsier Ara’s shop – this is his “surgery room” – where he makes history in repairing the broken old lamps into beautiful working artifacts again

Meanwhile, he spent hours studying books, documents and catalogues on his new vocation and what had originally started out as a hobby progressively became a passion.  As trips to the flea markets became more common, Mr Ara added further new items to his collection and gradually started to make a living repairing lamps.

More and more, I got specialized in non-electric lamps: kerosene lamps, gas lamps as well as early electric lighting prior to the 1920s

A collection of Monsieur Ara’s lamps

After a holiday in France and a romantic encounter, Monsieur Ara chose to settle in Paris, his all-time favourite city in the world. In 1981 he opened his lighting shop “Lumière de l’Oeil” (The light in one’s eye) and the rareness of his craft soon began to attract a lot of attention.  Specialized in the restoration of antique lamps, the store also holds a small exhibition hall in the back shop, the so-called “Museum for Old Lighting”.

My stocks were quite voluminous when I settled down in rue Flatters in 1981 – hundreds of glass shades, ceramic counterweights and large amounts of metal parts. The so-called Museum for Old Lighting dedicated to non-electric lamps, groups hundreds of burners and lamps in working order with their original fuel: colza-oil, gas, kerosene, carbide, gasoline, spirit, etc.

A mini replica of the shop to be admired inside the original shop

You won’t find another museum like this in Paris. Small, but unique in its collection, this extraordinary atelier is so remarkably different that it effectively escapes the logic of today’s reality. Once you push the door of this charming boutique, you will be fascinated by the multitude of ancient lights all around you – on shelves above your head or displayed in the shop windows awaits a spectacle of colour and light. In a corner of his workshop, the owner has created a space for its finest collectibles – a Guimard lamp from the 1900s or the globe displaying the Trocadéro Palace during The Universal Exposition of 1878.

Shelves of Light…

Today Monsieur Ara consults professionals from the film industry, exhibits his lamp specimens in international displays, and most importantly – welcomes curious guests in his singular shop with great kindness…

I really spoil my visitors. Whenever someone comes by, I share my knowledge with passion and never look at the watch.

36 years had passed since Monsieur Ara lighted upon his first lamp on the street, but he is firm in his belief that he will “keep doing my job until my hands start to shake, my eyes go blind and my bones become brittle”.

Monsieur Ara entering his shop, this relic of another time

And may you too chance upon the light of your life – just like Monsieur Ara did – by an inspiring happy accident!

This is our Christmas wish to you! Happy holidays from Les Studios de Paris!

Merry Christmas! Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons