As an environmental health and safety inspector, part of Drue Deshotels' day job is avoiding waste. So, when he began collecting cigar boxes a few months ago, it was his mission to find a way to repurpose a disposable product.
Deshotels began constructing his cigar box Edison lamps under the name Bon Vivant New Orleans (www.bonvivantneworleans.weebly.com; 504-383-5789) four months ago. The lamps come in decorative Tall and functional Valet models, which offer storage, and are available at NOLA Boards, Zele market on Magazine Street and Abode in Metairie as well as through Bon Vivant's website.
The boxes Deshotels uses for his lamps are meticulously designed, featuring brightly colored finishes and intricate signature labels, such as Shakespeare's famous balcony scene on the boxes of Romeo y Julieta cigars. Deshotels is careful to preserve those graphics when mounting the hardware for the lightbulb, which is protected by an easy-open cage to allow cleaning and equipped with a dimmer switch.
In addition to table lamps, Deshotels makes clocks, music boxes and key boxes and is working on wall sconces and floor lamps, all made from packaging culled from cigar shops around the city. Priced at $60 and up, Deshotels says it's an impulse buy that doesn't leave you with buyer's remorse.
"The main reason I work with cigar boxes is that they're inexpensive, they're well-made ... and even if you make a dozen, every one is different," he says. "I like to think I'm saving (the boxes) from a landfill ... and turning them into a functional piece of furniture."