Atelier Alain Ellouz: Stone Age
In a studio just outside historic Versailles, in Buc, French designer Alain Ellouz and his team craft complex yet ethereal light fixtures—as well as furniture, blinds, and custom pieces for residences and luxury brands like Chaumet, Guerlain, and Jaeger—from two contrasting stones: alabaster and rock crystal. Instead of launching it at ICFF as planned, this June Atelier Alain Ellouz virtually debuted the seemingly floating Liberty, a pendant suspended from leather ropes that is available in three different variations.
Comprised of alabaster tubes, quarters, and eighths of circles, it completes the minimalist Infinity Design Collection, which was recently named a 2020 NYCxDESIGN Award winner. Here, Ellouz, whose creations are on display in Buc, London, and New York showrooms, provides insight into his philosophical approach to design.
Prior to establishing Atelier Alain Ellouz in 2005, you ran a successful IT consulting company in France for 15 years. What led to this change?
Simultaneously, I was an active sculptor and passionate about the art form. So, in the year 2000 I sold the business to embark on a journey in art and meditation. The moment I sculpted a block of pure alabaster, a bond was created between this incredible stone and me. In 2005, my focus became clear: introduce alabaster into the world of superior architecture and design. From that point forward, in tandem with an invaluable partner and outstanding designer, Marion Biais, I revolutionized the art form of alabaster stone carving. For me, it is a love affair between a sublime, underappreciated stone and an artist-entrepreneur unfamiliar to the world of luxury and design.
What is the overarching mission of your atelier?
The process of creation is at the core of our workshop, unstoppable even for a second. What has already been created is a part of the past, but the future is the present and the present comes down to creation, and nothing more. It is a difficult challenge because it requires the entire team to remain in constant movement. But, passion has a price we must pay through constant effort.
You focus solely on alabaster and rock crystal. What is it about these two materials that captivates you?
Rock crystal is equally as magnificent as alabaster. It is not easy to unleash its potential and only a select few creators and designers in the world can work with the stone. Rock crystal’s characteristics are exactly the opposite of alabaster. It is as hard, exclusive, and crystalline as alabaster is soft, adaptable, and mysterious. In fact, the polarity of the two stones offers a wide spectrum of color in the sphere of contemporary design.
Over the 15 years you’ve been in business, are there any design movements that have influenced your work?
I don’t rely on outside inspiration because it can lead us to repeat or copy something great that has already been done. My goal is to search for brand-new paths of expression or at least far from commonplace ones. This ties in with our journey through life, which is distinct for each one of us. For example, although I admire Noguchi, Van Gogh, and Charlotte Perriand, I don’t want to follow in their footsteps. As artisans, each one of us makes an impact in our own way.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic forced you to think of your business differently?
Behind every difficult situation lies an opportunity. I used the free time to create a new focus for our workshop by developing an EDITION department dedicated to resellers.
What’s next on the agenda for Atelier Alain Ellouz?
I’m not sure I can discuss the next stages since we are constantly riding the wave of ‘work in progress’. I am always ready to change my plans according to opportunities that arise or dissolve. I manage my company like I sculpt. That means I never know how it will develop.
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