The Astier de Villatte house invites us in its Parisian workshop.
Astier de Villatte is a brand of artisanal ceramics made in Paris, that we have been selling since the very beginnings of Biutiful, in 2013. The house was founded in 1996 by Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte. And it is, to be honest, the most chic ceramic brand of Paris.
So you can imagine how delighted we were when Ivan and Benoît – the designers themselves! – invited us to enter their Parisian workshop…
The workshop Porte d’Ivry – Paris
Astier de Villatte, it’s a style, light years from marketing, and that multiplies audacities and elegant anachronisms.
Its secret : a love for everything beautiful, a grand creativity, a touch of ingenuity and know-how.
The fanciest ceramics brand of Paris
Each ceramic piece is handmade from a clay sheet. You first have to strike the clay to soften it, then form thin sheets of matter with a roller, and these sheets are then cast into the required shape. Once removed from the mould, the different parts are assembled by hand and shaped before a first cooking in the oven.
In the 1000 square meters factory, about thirty craftsmen wearing navy polo shirts embroidered with the golden AV initials, almost all of them from Tibet; and we discover all the process of making a ceramic piece, shaping the clay, cooking, enameling and printing… It’s fascinating: the atmosphere is magical and so unique!
For these two ceramic rockstars, imperfection makes the charm of it all, you have to create to have fun, take pleasure and sharing.
The traditional production gives each piece a unique feel. Because of the hand making and the natural drying, every piece is different from the other. The white enamel unevenly gives way to the brown clay underneath. It shows on the surface in places and gives its charm to the object, as if it was reincarnated. Some asperities, holes, transparencies are as many qualities that confer life and their unique appearance to the ceramic pieces.
The terra cotta piece now created, the bisque, in enameled with Astier de Villatte’s very own technique, then put back in the oven for a second cooking. The enamel of ceramics is lead free and cadmium free. The manufacture process is a long a delicate one.
Each craftsman creates the piece of which he’s an expert from beginning to end, without any other obligation than to make a beautiful object. Because of this, the manufacturing time of ceramics is quite long (about 15 days for a mug). Each piece is engraved with the signature of the brand, the intertwined A and V, as well as the initials of the craftsman who made the piece.
Since 1996, Astier de Villatte has been hand making ceramics in Paris, in the best tradition of great Parisian ceramic workshops from the 18th century. Astier de Villatte is today the first and only studio that carries on the tradition of handmade ceramics in Paris.
The AdV designers draw their inspiration from the history of the Arts Décoratifs, popular art and abandoned objects. Their desire is to create original and never seen before pieces, although making it seem like they’ve always been around, like imaginary witnesses of an ideal Paris. The ceramic is almost always white, often very simple, sometimes with a decoration in relief.
Setsuko Klossowska de Rola
The tour goes on in Setsuko’s workshop where a delicious Japanese lunch awaits us.
Setsuko Klossowska de Rola is a Japanese painter. She has exhibited her work internationally and is also a writer. She became in 2005 the UNESCO artist for peace. She is the widow of the painter Balthus and the Honorary Chairman of the Balthus Foundation.
The history between Setsuko Klossowska de Rola and the Astier de Villatte family begins in the sixties, at the Villa Medicis in Rome while Benoît’s parents, both artists, are residents there. The head then is the painter Balthus himself, accompanied with Setsuko. A friendship began right then and there between the two couples, and Benoît Astier de Villatte’s childhood was bathed in their creative exchanges.
Incense burners and Cat teapot
(SUPER) PRIVATE COLLECTION
We’re then going to the upper stories, where they each have their office, ad where lay hidden treasures, pieces that were never released, surprising works, and we even catch sight of, on Benoît’s desk, framed, a Biutiful postcard… 🙂
Our visit ends at the very end of the day. Time is almost still. We wander for a little longer, our arms filled with gifts, in the 13th arrondissement, with a list that Benoît and Ivan secretly gave us to discover their favorite shops in the Chinese district.
Stay tuned! A beautiful surprise is coming soon.
Photos: Ludovic di Orio / Biutiful / 2019