Paris-based French artist, architect and designer Garance Vallée speaks to #legend about her new collaboration with Perrier-Jouët through which she presents a contemporary vision of Art Nouveau
Maison Perrier-Jouët is the champagne brand known for the delicate sprays of white Japanese anemone that grace its Belle Époque vintage cuvée bottles, originally designed in 1902 by Emile Gallé, a respected botanist and one of the pioneers of the Art Nouveau movement. More than a flower, the anemone perfectly embodies the relationship with art and nature that has been deeply anchored since 1811 in the history of the house, which owns the largest private collection of French Art Nouveau in Europe.
To celebrate the 120th anniversary in 2022 of this instantly-recognisable emblem representing the floral elegance of Perrier- Jouët champagne, the Maison unveiled its collaboration with French artist, architect and designer Garance Vallée – the latest in an ever-growing line of contemporary artists that the brand has commissioned every year for the past decade.
Based on her belief that “man is in nature, and nature is in man”, Vallée’s series of Planted Air sculptures for Perrier-Jouët symbolise her vision of one nature, in which all life forms make up a single entity. A reinterpretation of the ecosystem of the champagne vineyard, each twisting wrought-iron sculpture, hammered by a master craftsman, is shaped like a vine stock reaching up into the air, which is embedded in a hand-sculpted solid block of limestone evoking the chalk-rich Champagne terroir. Mirrors reflect the environment surrounding the sculptures, allowing for an immersive experience in which visitors are invited to weave their way around them and question their relationship to the living world.
You were born in Paris in 1993. Tell us about your childhood and how you became interested in art and design.
My father, Kriki, is a painter and my mother is an art agent. I have always been in a very open artistic environment. I used to fall asleep as a child with the sound of my father’s brush on the wall. I don’t think I chose to become an artist. It’s more like something inside you that grows and needs to come out at some point.
What’s the most important consideration when creating an artwork or a design?
I always think about the human being. I find that many architectural projects today are dehumanised when we are building for living, organic bodies.
Tell us about the sources of inspiration and conceptual approaches of your work.
I am very guided by experimentation. I like to test and explore several different directions. I don’t have a typical pattern of creation. Ideas really come from everywhere: a material, a colour, an encounter, a book…
What is your relationship with nature?
My name is not “Garance” for nothing. My mother gave me this name of a flower, being very attached to the Earth. Part of my family comes from the southwest of France, where I spent a lot of time in the forest or playing with what nature gave me.
How did the collaboration with Perrier-Jouët come about and what values do you share with the brand?
This collaboration was done in a very organic way with great respect for my ideas and my creations. The common discourse of combining art and nature has really been a strong anchor of the project.
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Tell us about the Planted Air sculptures you created for Perrier-Jouët and what you were trying to achieve.
Planted Air is really the transcription of my discovery of the vineyards in Champagne and the terroir of Perrier-Jouët. The Maison Belle Époque was an inexhaustible source of references. The use of wrought iron in the Art Nouveau gate of the Maison was one of them. The stone that forms the base of the sculptures is limestone, the same stone that forms the basement and cellar of the house. I invite the viewer to come and walk through this field of vines as a real immersion in a world where man and nature meet without hierarchy.
Describe the limited-edition gift box you created for the Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs champagne.
The drawing is inspired by a gradation from the Earth to the sky, like a thread stretched between the species I represented, as if each being came from the same cell and that it was a continuous metamorphosis that gives us the stone, the leaf and the bird. This verticality is also a reference to champagne bubbles and the vivacity of Perrier-Jouët wines.
You’ve collaborated with Nike, Lacoste, Maison Martin Margiela, Elitis and Le Bon Marché. Why are collaborations important to you?
It’s always a new challenge to work with brands that already have a history, to be inspired by their background and to be able to project it into my own world. This allows me to keep my practice wide open and explore the possibilities of my craft.
What are the greatest challenges you face when creating your work?
We always have this desire to create something “new”. The important thing is to remain anchored in what we are and what we do. The challenge is to reinvent ourselves with each project, while keeping a strong guideline that characterises our aesthetic.
What do you feel is the role of the artist in society? What do you hope to achieve or what message do you hope to convey through your art at the end of the day?
I hope to bring a sort of new way of seeing things, a new thinking in our relationship to nature and humankind.
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