Villa Arev : Pimp my Ceramics !

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Villa Arev : Pimp my Ceramics !

In Paris, the ceramist and creator of Villa Arev, Gabrielle Tomassian blows up the clichés about ceramics and sheds upon them youthfulness, joy and frivolity. “Ceramics are not just brown stoneware bowls, as pretty as they can be : ceramics can also be very youthful, modern and pop ! ” says Gabrielle Tomassian, a young Parisian ceramist. She created her brand Villa Arev a bit more than a year ago, after a ceramics design degree from Central Saint Martins and some time teaching ceramics at Atelier de Sèvres in Paris.

“Arev” means “sun” in Armenian and she designs and makes her joyful and sunny spirited creation indeed : a crowd of fresh items and colours spread onto her very fnely crafted pieces. This summery charm is not insignifcant, though “maybe partially unconscious”, she says : Villa Arev was the name of her Armenian grandparents’ house in the south of France… We met Gabrielle to chat about porcelain, artistic infuences and mostly discuss the possibilities of renewing and refreshing ceramics nowadays.

Cendrier Grenade

Ceramics and design

Gabrielle is a former Central Saint Martins student, where she learned advances ceramics techniques and specialised in prototypes and moulding, a rigorous and demanding fashioning of  ceramics which Gabrielle particularly likes to craft her pieces : « My passion is this tedious moment when I work until you fnd the perfect angle for my cast. I love to take time and do things perfectly so that they last forever. »

Stringency, patience – “and fun!” – are key to the craftsmanship of Villa Arev’s creator. Sometimes tricky, often rewarding, porcelain and earthenware are a matter of meticulousness and seriousness. It takes several weeks to make a precise mould into which is poured the casting slip to dry. The cast extracted from the mould is dried a bit more outside the mould before it is fred at more than 1000°C. Ten, the piece is glazed (coloured) and fred a second time. “Opening the oven after my pieces have gone through the second fring, it’s a bit like Christmas! I have an immediate result of what they’ll look like, the colours are revealed. Tat is when I sort out the nice ones and the ones that are messed up. I have a 10-15% rate of failures… that can increase with porcelain. But sorting out is not heart-crushing, it is part of the job – plus I don’t work with a lot of chemicals, there is no lead in my glazing and the clay is basically earth… the environmental impact is low. ”


Villa Arev : the joy of and at the core of ceramics

Inspired by her culture in ceramics, design and art, Gabrielle Tomassian stacks all he knowledge up in her creations to make them contemporary items, quirkly sometimes, brilliant and pop always. Villa Arev’s artistic dimension feeds from the works of Bernard Palissy (the lobster dish is a tribute to this 15th century ceramist’s work : he was a revolutionary in the way he used pigments and glazing), from the refnement of Chinese and Japanese ceramics techniques, though their style is quite classic and from the revolution brought by the Memphis group in a Bauhaus-led design world : “Etore Sotsass and Marco Zanini had fun with designing, in opposition to the Bauhaus. It liberated architecture from the house to the items you chose to put in it, it was selecting objects according to the architecture while beint painted in dead crazy colours and, I think, it really improved our homes – for example, you pick book shelves not practical at all, but just because it makes you happy, and it’s so great. Making objects which make people happy is important. ”

Amidst all her projects, infuences, hopes and wills, we asked one last question to Gabrielle Tomassian : how do you sum up Villa Arev ? « Villa Arev is frst and foremost a personal and family culture very gleeful, even outlandish. It is unique items, or very limited editions that pleases the eye not because it is easy but because they will match with your personality and own history, like a wink to yourself… I have so many former smokers buying the cigarette-butts ashtray as a souvenir or to help friends quit ! Villa Arev’s creations go along with who you are, with your environment and they do with frivolity and a lot of joy. Above all, I hope to bring a bit of… youthfulness to ceramics – so that ceramics are seen for what they can be, pop, colourful, joyful and modern.”



Villa Arev will be at HAGA (Paris 9) until Dec. 13th .