Meanderings

S&B X Astier de Villatte

[S&B X Astier de Villatte]

Issue #114
Old friends are often the best friends, aren't they? That's certainly the case with Ivan Percoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte, the duo behind Astier de Villatte and our latest collaborative partner. For us, it's a relationship that started almost 20 years ago when June and Bernadette were exploring one of their favourite Parisian trade fairs. At first glance, the two friends were instantly taken by the beautiful white ceramics. "We completely fell in love with the simplicity," recalls June. 

Of course, convincing the creative partnership behind the ceramics that we should stock them took a little more time and patience. "What I love most about Benoit and Ivan was precisely the reason they didn't jump at our offer to stock their tableware," says June. "They always had so much integrity and were very careful about who they allowed to sell their pieces. I had the upmost respect for that."

Which is not to say June and Bernadette took no for answer. In the end, it was a handwritten letter updating the duo on the comings and goings at S&B that did it.      

 From the moment Astier de Villatte arrived at S&B, visitors to the store were drawn to the charming ceramics with deliberate imperfections on the surface of the milky, white glaze. "We started off with a small and very simple collection, but over the years our team has grown very close to Ivan and Benoît, and now have worked together creating these beautiful pieces," says June.

The limited-edition collection, which includes a stunning vase (in two sizes) and Astier de Villatte's first ever napkin rings, is imprinted with Bernadette's classic flower that she drew on all her notes and letters. It has since become one of our most beloved symbols and adorns tablescapes all over the world as part of 
Bernadette's Falling Flowers. So it seemed fitting that we went back to her London home to shoot the pieces. 

To celebrate the launch, we hosted an evening with Benoît and Ivan at our Holland Park store... and we got to know them even better with the below interview. We hope you enjoy!

Love,


S&B

xx 


 [The Collection]
 
Astier de Villatte X S&B Ceramic Simple Vase with Falling Flower, £550 
Astier de Villatte X S&B Ceramic Simple Vase with Falling Flower Petit, £430 
Astier de Villatte X S&B Ceramic Napkin Ring with Falling Flower, £95 
Astier de Villatte X S&B is available in-store at our Holland Park and Elizabeth Street locations. For more details, please call our store on +44 (0) 207 221 4566
 

 [In conversation with... Ivan Percoli & Benoît Astier de Villatte]
 


 
Q.
When you met, were you instant friends?

A.
We had mutual friends who wanted us to meet and they organized a catch-up in a bar in Saint Germain des Prés, which was a very dirty and odd place. We didn't like each other at first sight and told our mutual friends we didn't understand why they wanted us to meet! 

Q.
How did Astier de Villatte begin?

A.
We started making objects by chance in Benoît's father's studio with brothers, sisters and friends. Someone came by and thought they were nice and it seems that it started like that. 

Q.
How long after that did your signature aesthetic come into its own? 

A.
Our dream was to create original, unique pieces that looked as if they had been around forever. We find inspiration in echoes of the past: books, discarded objects, paintings. 
 



 
Q.
What is the best environment for creativity? 

A.
Paris! 
 

Q.
How does your childhood and upbringing influence your work? 

A.
We have the common point of having spent our respective childhoods between Rome and Paris. Benoit was born at the Villa Medicis in Rome, and Ivan played in the garden of the villa. The Medici Villa is a sublime place, magical and theatrical which is our resource. Facing the villa is the Ciampini restaurant, whose terrace offers a beautiful view of the rooftops of Rome. It's a secluded, quite classy place that has kept something of the Dolce Vita.  


Q.
Can you describe an average day at your workshop? 

A.
Unfortunately for our colleagues, that mostly involves us sticking our noses everywhere

Q.
When you create a collection, how do you balance what you know people will love with what you are feeling inspired to create? 

A.
In general, we want to do things we like, but sometimes we do prognostics and it flops. So we do not master this question and in the end we do what we love, as when we predict, it does not work as expected.

Q.
In a world where craftsmanship and tradition is something that is hard to hold onto, how have you kept this at the centre of your process? 

A.
To be honest, the techniques do not interest us too much—they are a means to an end. We don't worship craftsmanship but what we do believe is that when a piece is created calmly by a maker's hand, that produces an emotion that something made industrially does not have.
 
 

The prototype 

 
Q.
How do you choose who to collaborate with? 

A.
We love collaborations because they expand our universe. For instance, we collaborate with John Derian, Setsuko Klossowska de Rola, Serena Carone and Lou Doillon. They all inspire us in very different ways. 
 

Q.
Astier de Villatte has been the source of stunning ceramics at Summerill & Bishop for many, many years. When did you first meet June and Bernadette? 

A.
A very long time ago! June and Bernadette were one of our first clients, so old we can't even remember precisely when we started working together! 


Q.
Where do you go to recharge? 

A.
Benoit: I love to ski in the mountains.
Ivan: At home with my cats.

Q.
When you set your table for friends at home, what does it look like? 

A.
We don't like sophisticated, complicated tables. We use vintage or Astier de Villatte plates, glasses and cutlery. We also like having a simple bouquet, but quite small so that you can still see the person in front of you.
 
 

 


 
Q.
Who are the eight people you would love to have at a dinner party—alive or dead? 

A.
Dalai Lama
Ringo Star
Michou
Balthus
Jane Fonda
Patti Smith
Reine d'Angleterre
Marguerite Duras
 



 
Q.
What collection do each of you use at home when you have a dinner party?  

A.
A mix of our Revolution and Victor collections.

Q.
If you could only have one piece in the whole collection, what would it be? 

A.
A pitcher.
Q.
What is your favourite AdV candle scent? 

A.
Atelier de Balthus.

Q.
What is your favourite thing at S&B right now? 

A.
We love the Le Cirque linen collection.
 

 
 


[The Celebration]
A big thanks to our wonderful colleagues, friends & family who joined us at our Holland Park store to celebrate our 25th Anniversary Astier de Villatte X S&B collection.

 
Left to right: Seb Bishop, Paul Weiland, Anna Singh & Mike Penn; Ivan Percoli, Benoît Astier de Villatte & Heidi Bishop
Ivan & Benoît sign and stamp copies of their wonderful guide to the City Of Light, Ma Vie A Paris (currently in-store) 
Waiting for the party to start ... the S&B X Astier de Villatte collection under Thierry Boutemy's stunning installation
 
 Left to right: Betty Jackson, Caroline Weiland & Pascale Cohen; Jason Gissing & Max 
Left to right: Deborah Mack; Skye  
Right: The Jackal editor, Nick Carvell  
 Left to right: Chiara Ciroldi, Francesca Ruggiero & Lucia Restani; Rene MacDonald & Katinka Gissing
 Left: Kim & Davide
 
Denise Heywood & Heidi Bishop