Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.
Occupation: Founder of Atelier Alain Ellouz.
Studio location: Versailles.
Describe what you make: Over the past 15 years, I’ve dedicated my career to the precious stone alabaster. My Parisian studio strives to carve light out of stone. We manifest simple and pure pieces that come alive in space. Our projects range in complexity from simple lighting fixtures inspired by Japanese minimalism to monumental 15-meter-high alabaster wall fixtures weighing more than 20 tons. Regardless of dimension or size, our pieces emanate a quality of airiness. The work we produce at Atelier Alain Ellouz erases any trace of the fabrication process to render alabaster in its purest form. Though alabaster is at the heart of my Atelier, we also utilize rock crystals for certain projects. Akin to alabaster, rock crystals are delicate and requires a specialized touch to obtain their subtle form.
The most important thing you’ve designed to date: One of the achievements I’m most proud of is the jeweler Chaumet’s gemstones for their Maison Place Vendôme. The pieces combine design with the art of sculpture. Each alabaster gemstone weighs close to 120 kilograms and appears to float in the air, unfettered by reality. The Gemstones are displayed alongside alabaster panels engraved with gold.
Describe the problem your work solves: The alabaster is tender and fragile. This is why decorative alabaster has rarely been featured prior to the inception of Atelier Alain Ellouz. We dedicated our first two years to engineering a technique that would make alabaster as strong as granite while maintaining the stone’s original beauty and quality. We have created a new treatment: Stonelight. An invisible armor coat applied directly to the stone that leaves behind a velour touch.
Describe the project you are working on now: Presently, we are tackling the concept of Infinity, a revolutionary vocabulary of elements, which enables our atelier to create an infinite number of unique shapes. In fact, Infinity V8.1 recently secured first place in the Architectural Lighting category at the NYCxDesign Awards. Infinity is a collaborative project for which we invite interior designers from across the industry to collaborate and learn to speak its language.
A new or forthcoming project we should know about: We are working on a special project slated to open early 2020 that will blend art and design. A space in which I am both curator and one of the featured artists. This project will feature sculptures and evoke a sense of freedom. We can’t tell more yet but this is going to be really something in the story of Alabaster! A story of creations…
What you absolutely must have in your studio: I need surrounding greenery, an open window, a team with whom I can exchange ideas, a workshop close by to remind me of the reality of work, materials, light, and simple shapes. And of course, my wife Christel who supports me on this adventure every day with her photographic perspective.
What you do when you’re not working: Meditation is very important for me. It sculpts my spirit and helps me achieve balance. I find that meditation also opens my mind to infinite possibilities. Besides this, I love spending free time with my family and friends. I feel very free and content when I travel without a set destination.
Sources of creative envy: Baudelaire helped me discover beauty, Noguchi and Brancusi opened my eyes to sculpture, Zao Wou-Ki and Matisse provided me with the keys to light, but it’s through Buddha’s steps that I guide my feet as a creator.
The distraction you want to eliminate: My mind is constantly abuzz with new ideas, preventing me from deepening my present work.
Concrete or marble? I prefer concrete because it is an invitation to look beyond, to search for the trees hidden behind it. Concrete’s simplicity and rawness allow it to engulf the space in which it lives.
High-rise or townhouse? I enjoy the heady feels of high rises during a cocktail night but townhouses offer me the luxury of walking barefoot in the grass.
Remember or forget? Forget. Forgetting is the path toward novel creation; life is in constant movement and one must die in the past to be reborn in the present.
Aliens or ghosts? Ghosts are from the past and aliens are the future. Considering that there are so many paths toward discovery, all of my attention and energy is devoted to discovering the future. So I guess my answer is aliens.
Dark or light? Darkness. It provides the perfect medium by which to wield my passion for lighting design. Plus, angels are easiest to spot in the dark.