Style and substance: One of the world’s most ancient and revered cultural techniques – plus premium brand Villeroy & Boch – bridge the gap between art and (ceramic-based) artisanship in an exclusive collaboration with US artist Ebon Heath
A handful of loam, a little water, a touch of fire to lend it permanence. Whether coarse earthenware, choice porcelain or fibre-enhanced high-tech innovations, ceramics are convenient, versatile and – for the last 30,000 years – frequently a reflection and mirror of society. After all, the material’s malleable diversity fires up our imagination – in everyday use as in artistic expression. A prime example: the new Second Glance cooperation between type and graphic artist Ebon Heath and the ceramics experts at Villeroy & Boch.
More often than not, it is well-placed (style) clashes and targeted disruptions that drive the dynamics of innovation. In this spirit, premium brand Villeroy & Boch, too, continues to explore and break new ground in terms of technology and design. After all, artistic talents and creative excursions run in the company’s DNA – and in the blood of the founding family with painters (and siblings) Anna and Eugène Boch, photographer Monika von Boch, designer Helene von Boch and now photographer Michel von Boch. Furthermore, the brand continues to foster exceptional artists and masters of their chosen profession including Gauguin or van Gogh, both of whom entertained a close friendship with Anna and Eugène Boch – van Gogh’s portrait of Eugène “The Poet” is currently on display at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
The ceramic manufacturer’s latest collaboration, with typography artist Ebon Heath, throws a welcome spotlight on the merits of creative/craft combinations that might seem unusual at first look. And make all the more sense when given a second chance and glance.
In a seamless symbiosis of tradition, trend and contemporary currents, their joint project Second Glance helps to imbue art with tangible immediacy: with surprising moments and frictional aesthetics that breathe new life into the streamlined elegance of a gently curved ceramic object.
Steeped in 264 years of brand history, this close collaboration between artist and company encourages a focused exchange and cross-pollination of different and diverging approaches to allow something entirely new to spring from its contextual, technological and aesthetic intersections – thus setting this particular cooperation apart from previous artistic collaborations. As part of this dynamic process, the cosmopolitan artist’s intuitive creativity meets and clashes with the clear structures and predetermined manufacturing steps of a modern company that is usually confined to a strict production framework and narrowly defined schedules.
The result is an interdisciplinary collaboration with clear mutual benefits: Inspired by Villeroy & Boch’s material and décor expertise, Ebon Heath went on to create several further Second Glance works, a. o. a poem-turned-mobile (Typographic Mobiles) blending Villeroy & Boch’s core competency ceramics with Heath’s pronounced penchant for typography. The resulting installation comprises 166 individual ceramic letters – fashioned into the seven lines and title of his Second Glance poem – and was assembled especially for the occasion.
The experts at Villeroy & Boch, on the other hand, not only invested plenty of innovatory energy and enthusiasm into the necessary flexibilisation of the production process, but also conquered several seemingly insurmountable obstacles. In order to realise the artist’s vision, they jettisoned established paradigms to develop entirely novel solutions for the project’s colour and décor requirements – creating valuable know-how for future product innovations.
The product of this exceptional collaboration is quintessentially Villeroy & Boch. And yet entirely different. Decorative graphic elements with 18 carat white gold embellishments and a novel haptic structure, scattered across a limited series of 100 LoopArt objects, give new context to select snippets of the company’s rich brand history –abstracted to the point where it takes a second or third glance to decipher their origin. Lovingly crafted by hand, every single object becomes an original work of art in its own right, a three-dimensional canvas for Ebon Heath’s visual remix.
Direct insights into this exciting cooperation provides the exclusive Second Glance launch event on May 9th, 2012, in Berlin. Besides selected LoopArt creations, the event will present the above-mentioned mobiles and bespoke jewellery, both fashioned from ceramic letters, as well as a short film on the design process behind this unusual – and unusually fruitful – collaboration.
After the project’s Berlin premiere, the exhibition is scheduled to visit further countries and metropolises to showcase this successful symbiosis of creativity, ceramics and competence on an international stage. The subsequent online auction is open to all and allows art lovers from around the world to bid on one of the LoopArt originals. At the same time, Second Glance also continues the company’s tradition of artistic patronage: Villeroy & Boch will donate part of the auction’s proceeds to the Kinder-Kunst-Museum e.V. - Berlin international.
Further information on the project: www.villeroy-boch.com/second-glance
International PR Manager
Tel: +49 (0) 68 64 - 81 21 10
Jessika Maria Rauch
International PR Manager
Tel: +49 (0) 68 64 – 81 13 44
Ebon Heath has a keen eye for details that capture your attention on second glance. And then stick in your mind for days on end. With his uncompromisingly meticulous works, the US-American graphic artist – at home between Brooklyn and Berlin, fashion and art, graphic explosions and spatial installations – loves to surprise his audience with uncommon combinations and collaborations.
After his celebrated Typographic Ballet – a performance that dissolved the boundaries between body, art and calligraphy – Heath seamlessly segued into an artistic collaboration with R’n’B singer Beyoncé in New York. His latest project involves a collection of jewellery scheduled for release in late 2012.
Villeroy & Boch Great design and workmanship invariably prevails. Ever since 1748, the globally renowned premium brand has been perfecting its successful balancing act between contemporary trends and timeless elegance, making Villeroy & Boch one of Europe’s oldest brands to have survived – and thrived – well into the present.
Tangible success underscores Villeroy & Boch’s strategy: today, the listed company’s more than 8,000 employees manufacture a wide range of products from tableware and tiles to bathroom fittings at 15 locations in Europe, Mexico and Thailand to brighten up the lives of customers in 125 countries around the world. This quality and style also finds favour with professional juries, a. o. several red dot design awards and the Innovation Award of the German Economy (2005).
PCH INNOVATIONS Innovation agency for marketing, engineering and design with studios in Berlin and Los Angeles. PCH INNOVATIONS involves artists in its client exchanges to develop disruptive and innovative solutions by engendering a welcome change of perspective.