CLAY & PROCESS: Terre Noir, which means 'dark earth' in English, is sourced from the Paris Basin of the Seine River. It is then mixed with local spring water to make clay. Crafts people at Astier de Villatte prefer to knead the clay by hand, so it is not perfectly smooth — a signature look of the brand. The clay is then shaped by mold and left to dry by air, depending on the season it can take anywhere from two days to two weeks. The piece is then scored and hand brushed before going into the kiln at a low temperature. The signature white enamel is then applied, and dried for a whole night.
Astier de Villatte have collaborated with a wide range of makers and artists. One of those being painter and sculptor Setsuko Klossowska de Rola, wife to the late French painter Balthaus. Her cat series for Astier de Villatte, including the Cat Incense Burner and the Cat Teapot, are steady sellers with their fans. While Setsuko's collections are classic, contemporary ceramic artist Serena Carone's works are freewheeling. Her mugs, known as Ring Mugs, reveal the brand's playfulness. "The Ring Mug was an object I made while thinking of my daughter. I was playing with clay because I was out of ideas. I quite liked the result. I brought the Ring Mug to my first meeting with Ivan and Benoît. I proudly took out the mug and the two shot puzzled looks at me, as if to say, "Just a mug?" But when I pulled my finger out from the handle, they understood the design and roared with laughter. The said they mistook the ring for an actual ring on my finger. A few days later I started making samples." — Serena Carone, Sculptor for Astier de Villatte