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How can you bring nature into your homes?

Hi and many thanks again for connecting with me;-) for this second blog post. As I said previously my role is to bring nature closer to you and to integrate a part of nature into your daily lives and what better than having a trace of nature in your bathrooms, kitchens or even your living-room as a focal point on a wall, just like this ;

The real start of my creative journey happened one very sunny afternoon in my garden as I was strolling around looking for inspiration amongst my greenery;-). I came across one of the plants/shrubs that grows really well in our climate which is a Cornus. This plant is especially interesting during the winter as there are certain varieties which have gold/green stems or red stems when the leaves have fallen, making it a decorative feature in the garden, giving rare colour during the morose months of winter.

I especially love the leaves as their veins are well pronounced and perfect for reproducing onto clay, as I discovered later on. So my first tile was born, and guess what, it was a relief tile, not easy to reproduce unfortunately, on a manufacturing level. But anyway, back to my first tile which I christened Cornus relief tile. This tile was a 20x20cm with leaves literally coming out of the clay base, as you can see below.

It certainly wasn't an easy tile to make but I found it original and intriguing to use indoors, for a bathroom or kitchen backsplash with leaves peeling, undulating and giving the impression that they were nearly falling to the ground ! Why not !

Anyway, that was my first handmade tile and then came a mini collection of other tiles which were simpler in the making but just as beautiful, using leaf and flower imprints creating an ethereal effect on clay.

After having completed this first tile collection inspired by nature, I was wondering how I could give the opportunity to others in making the most of my amazing tiles and therefore bringing the outdoors in.

I was previously a textile designer and had been a fervent visitor at the Salon Maison et Objet in Paris, basically looking for inspiration for my creations. I found out that during each salon they have a Concours, which is what the french call it, although I wouldn't know how to say it properly in english;-) but let me try. It's like a competition for designers to take part in and you have the opportunity of becoming one of the 6 Talents à la Carte, which is another term which isn't easy to translate either into english, but, basically you get chosen If your work catches their eye;-). If you do become a Talent it also means that you have the ultimate opportunity of exhibiting your work, totally free, with a maximum exposure, basically making the opportunity the best ever market survey.

So, with my mini collection which had just sprouted, I decided to enter the competition to see If I had a chance to become a Talent à la Carte. This particular salon, in Paris, is probably one of the most prestigious when it comes to interior design so It was vital for me to take a shot, because If you don't try you'll never know !

So I sent off my portfolio with pictures of my first ceramic handmade tiles to the commitee dealing with selecting the future talents and guess what ? I was selected !! OMG, I couldn't believe it ! You know, even If I sent off my work I never could have imagined that I would have been selected as one of the Talents à la Carte ! It seems stupid I know, as you're probably thinking ; then why did she send off her work If she thought that she wasn't going to be selected ? Well, let's just say, that's the way I am. I sort of go for things without believing in what I do even though, up until now I've been pretty lucky in what I've taken on.

From when I got the call from the commitee, letting me know I had been selected to exhibit my work on the next salon Maison et Objet in January, and at that time it was November, well I had roughly 2 months to get my act together. This meant looking for a manufacturer, getting prices, a website, catalogue, business cards, in fact anything to do with marketing a product. This was impossible in such a short time, so I decided to display my tiles, handpainted instead of glazed. I hadn't found a manufacturer so I had no prices. There was no website up and running either, in fact I dared to show off my tiles whereas I just wasn't ready to commercialize them, it was too soon !

Also, at that time I was 6 months pregnant so it was quite an ordeal trying to get everything together, but certainly well worth all the stress and especially excitement. It was so exhilarating to prepare for such an event and even though I was pregnant, I don't think I've ever experienced so much energy and drive as I had then, preparing the salon Maison et Objet.

So during the 2 months I had to prepare, I got to work, in my workshop, just opposite my house, hand pressing the tiles into the plaster moulds I had made. I had had no training in ceramics and the making of handmade ceramic tiles so it was a question of trial and error.

I can remember that time also particularly well because it was during the month of November, December and a part of January so not the warmest months in Normandy I can tell you. And I was working flat out from 8 in the morning until late into the night getting my tiles out and making sure I had enough to display. In my workshop I had a minimum amount of electricity and no heating a part from a wood burning stove which I fed constantly with logs just to keep me warm whilst working.

Before the salon commenced in January, we, the 6 talents were invited to the headquarters of Maison et Objet in Paris, to take part in a conference, for all the journalists to acquire general insight into the salon's organisation, upcoming events, general news and to present the Talents !

It was my first encounter with the world of journalism and with the Maison et Objet team who very kindly invited us out to an exquisite restaurant in order to get to know each other and especially meet before the salon started. It was my first official photo taken by the salon's official photographer too, LOL, it was incredibly exciting ! Oh, and my very first article for the Magazine which was available for all the visitors of the salon. Can you believe it, we were also going to be in the magazine, OMG, I couldn't believe it, yet again. I suppose that I was floating on a cloud, in another world, in total disbelief, it was a great feeling, believe me ;-). You can see the article below ;-).

But that's not all, because a week later I was contacted by Madame Figaro for another article and this time I was invited to their studios in Paris for a photo shoot and another interview. Basically this time it was to be in Madame Figaro's upcoming magazine during the month of January, before the salon. I will never, ever forget that experience as we entered the studios it was like entering another world totally. As soon as I walked over the threshold I was met by a lovely journalist from Madame Figaro who led me to a very intimate lounge where she interviewed me. After that I was taken to a make-up artist who literallly transformed me into someone else, but never mind, he was so nice ;-), and finally I was led to the photo shoot.

We found ourselves in a gigantic studio with the most enormous stage where I had to pose for the the most beautiful italian photographer ever :D . During all this time my husband and son, James, who was only 4 and a half at that time, accompanied me and lived the experience, lapping up the amazing atmosphere that we found ourselves in for a couple of hours. You know, I will never forget seeing James lying on the floor of the studio, watching me being photographed, and saying Maman, tu es si belle;-), which means Mummy, you're so beautiful ! I will never forget ;-).

Finally towards the end of January I was ready to go and we loaded up a van we had rented out for the occasion and set off for Paris to Villepinte, which is a suburb on the outskirts of the northern part of Paris, where the salon has taken place twice a year now for about 30 years give or take a few ;-).

Stay tuned for my upcoming newsletter giving you the "What happened next" account ;-).

Take care

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