Fashion and Art: Interview with Michael Cailloux
Michael Cailloux was born in Paris in 1975. As an alumni from the prestigious École Duperré Paris(Duperre School of Applied Arts), and is now the Art Director at L'École supérieure d'art Françoise Conte (Conte Art School), as well as the co-author of “Printed Textile Design: Profession, Trends and Project Development.” At the same time, he has collaborated with prestigious brands including Cartier, and Van Cleef & Arpels. Michael Cailloux possesses a colourful and distinct style. The “fly” (la mouche), symbolizing life and death, ultimately became his symbol and signature. His designs are used in etchings, silken scarves, wallpapers, stationeries, and many more. In 2015, Michael Cailloux was the winner of the Gravix Award Prize, and was featured in the book “Encore, the New Artisans” by Thames & Hudson.
OGP：Yours designs are very intriguing, it’s avant-garde yet classical. Could you tell us a little bit about how you became a designer, and what inspired your creations?
Michael：I have always enjoyed the arts as a child, and I drew anytime, anywhere… Although drawing directly on the walls of my house did lead to long disputes with my mother. My passion for drawing has since persisted, and inevitably led to my decision to major in art in my post-secondary career, after which I was accepted into the the École Duperré Paris (Duperre School of Applied Arts). Insects fascinated me, especially the “fly” (la mouche). During my time at École Duperré Paris, my artworks were devoted exclusively to this theme. Coincidentally, “fly” is not the only meaning of “la mouche”, the word also represent the beauty marks women drew on their faces during the 19th century to reveal their temperament at a particular moment.
OGP：Depending its location, the beauty marks of the 19th century varied greatly in the messages they conveyed. A flirtatious woman would always have a beauty mark box with her, and drew beauty marks on various parts of her faces accordingly. Similarly, artists discover the slightest differences in objects: the circles, stars, the sun, plants… and enrich the existent with imagination. Now, with the “fly” as an integral part of your designs, your works are definitely unique and distinct. But how would you describe the style of your design?
Michael：It is very difficult to classify my designs into one style because I really enjoy pushing the boundaries. I am trying out different projects; and by thinking outside the box, I am hoping to create something meaningful that is more than just enjoyment for the eyes.
OGP：This is definitely a worthwhile topic of discussion. Many artists try to integrate their emotions and state of minds into their artworks, and attempt to connect with their audiences on a spiritual level. For instance, China has experimented with the interpretation of patterns. The “Mandala [of Pancharaksha]” on display at the Rubin Museum of Art is an example of such. The geometric organization of the art is essentially meant to symbolize the structure of the universe (the circle). This artwork is a continuation of that spiritual mindset of the Buddhist monks. I am confident that your artworks and designs also convey a meaning, your beliefs... Although art styles may vary in the east and the west, the best artworks are always interconnected in that they evoke an emotional response from its audience.
Michael：Definitely. I had my company for 10 years, throughout which I drew and responded to public expectations. Using felt pens sized 0.05 to 3 millimetres, I draw down whatever that inspires me: plants, beetles, dragonflies, flies... Then I combine the two design techniques: jewelry and etchings. After cutting the copper plate, I engrave my prints using a strong water force. I work on the copper plate with traditional jewelry techniques to sculpt what I call “wall jewelry,” which are decorative sculptures mounted to the walls for decorative purposes. It’s only after the wall jewelry has been created that I divert my designs for my other works, including the limited textile collections of 100% silk scarves, wallpapers and stationery. Every aspect about nature fascinates me, and I try to convey my unique interpretations of them in all of my works.
OGP：This obviously is appreciated by the vast majority, because who doesn’t enjoy nature? Colourful, complex, and impactful; an inspirational piece of art requires its audience to “savour” it - the observation and understanding of the colour schemes, brushstrokes… In recent years, the affluent Chinese population have been fascinated by and have begun collecting European artworks. For instance, “Two Children” by Pablo Picasso was sold for 172,000,000 Chinese yuan; “Water Lilies” by Claude Monet was sold for $27,045,000 USD; “Untitled” by Martin Kippenberger was sold for $18,645,000 USD; and “Electric Chair” by Andy Warhol was sold for $10,460,000 USD. In recent years, many Asian art collectors are more interested in Western arts. They have high appraisal skills, and purchases they make vary in styles. From Picasso, to Miro, to Chagall, to Matisse… but no matter how much they appreciate the arts, their main purpose is still to collect and invest. For novice collectors of Western art, etchings may be an ideal option, and we know there are blooming talents in this industry who are able to create the most unexpected yet amazing artworks. Now, do you have any plans to launch a new collection anytime soon?
Michael：Thank you for your interest. I am currently preparing for the launch of my “umbrellas” collection in September 2016. I have also launched a new collection of scarves sized 120x120cm. The enlarged size allowed me to use larger and more impressive designs. At the moment, my works focus on the hybridization of plants and animals, but my initial inspiration came from the original works of William Morris. Although my works are ever-changing, they undoubtedly always relate back to nature. In addition, ex-votos, spiders, and flowers are my current inspirations. The ex-votos are offerings made to God that are hung on the walls; they evoke diverse feelings and I take great pleasure in revisiting them. I am also actively researching and reading about the legends around spiders, what they symbolize and their role in nature. As for flowers, they have always been a fascination for me. I am always searching for the “forgotten” flowers, or flowers that bear a significance or a message.
OGP：You have collaborated with prestigious brands such as Cartier (*), and Van Cleef & Arpels (*). What had influenced your decision to halt those collaborations? A number of clients from our organization are loyal customers to those brands, with interests in luxury watches and jewelry.
Michael：I have not only worked with Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, I have also collaborated with Baccarat and Dior (*), as well as provided custom designs for many renowned clients. I enjoy how the brands incorporate my designs into their products to construct a complete creation. Nevertheless, I have my own artistic pursuits. I even left my previous company - LZC Atelier - which I founded with two other friends, to create artworks that is more myself. An opportunity with prestigious restaurant Lucas Carton introduced me back into the luxury brands industry, where my wallpaper collections were sought after; but now I work under my own name, Michael Cailloux, to bring my designs, etchings, scarves… to audiences who share my appreciations. I have previously exhibited my works at Maison & Objet, but now I work exclusively with Boutique des arts décoratifs de Paris, as well as various art galleries across Paris, Brazil, and soon in Portugal.
OGP：That is amazing! Maison & Objet was introduced to China in 2015, and with the increasing levels of exchange between the two countries, more and more artists have the opportunity to present their unique culture and artworks. For instance, in August 2015, Chinese painter LIU Youju hosted an exhibition “Le Retour d’un Illusionniste a la Raison” at the Museum of Decorative Arts (musée des Arts Décoratifs) in Paris. Nowadays, the younger Chinese collectors have an international educational background, and they find it more difficult to relate to the Chinese paintings from previous centuries. Their international experience also gives them an advantage in understanding what the Western artworks are trying to portray. We believe that they will be the younger and newer generation of collectors, who are more closely defined by the word “collectors” as their taste and interests are more diverse. You have many Asian students in your class, what do you think of their work?
Michael：I enjoy Asian artworks very much; they are a great source of inspiration. As the Art Director at l'École supérieure d'art Françoise Conte (Conte Art School), I see many Asian students who are hardworking and talented. Their works are innovative and rich. China’s population and economic status makes it a huge market for my works, I think it would be an honour to see my works exhibited in this country. But as of yet, nobody has offered me the opportunity.
OGP：Wow, Michael, you know we are a group of collectors who collect items of value from around the globe as a part of our investment! What’s more, many of our members are executives of international corporations who may offer a variety of business channels and resources. Wouldn’t this be a wonderful opportunity for us to collaborate? You may host a personal exhibition at one of our private museums. In addition to the European countries you mentioned previously, we have abundant resources in Shanghai (China), New York (USA), Toronto (Canada), Barcelona (Spain), and other countries. If you would like to host an exhibition in Toronto, we have a gallery space of over 4,000 feet. Many brands launch their newest products through this platform. It would be an honour and our pleasure to collaborate with you.
Michael：That would be my honour too. I have always wanted to display my artworks internationally. If my artworks appeal, I could open my personal gallery someday to showcase all of my works and creations. That is my dream.
OGP：You will definitely achieve your dream one day with your innate creativity and innovative attitude. Many have compared you with William Morris, we think that is an amazing achievement. It was a pleasure to be able to speak with you today in regard to arts and design. Please continue to follow us At OGP, OhGoodParty.com and Michael Cailloux at "One of a Kind ".
1* William Morris (1834-1896), was a leader in the British Arts & Crafts Movement. He was a world-renowned artist and textile designer for furniture, wallpapers, and fabrics; as well as a novelist and poet. Born into a wealthy family, Morris received his education at the Exeter College in Oxford, where he initiated the Arts & Crafts Movement along with John Ruskin, Pugin, and others, to repel manufactured goods, advocate for the return of arts and crafts, as well as enhance the status of craftsmen. In 1861, he founded the Original Morris & Co., where he created a variety of art crafts. In 1885, he collaborated with Eleanor Marx, Belfort Backus, and others to create the Socialist League. In 1877, he founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. In 1891, he established his own publishing company, Kelmscott Press, and in later years, he focused on the design of book covers, many of which became historical classics. Morris’s motto was “Si je puis (If I can)”. If art cannot be shared with others, then it loses all its value.
2* Société Cartier is a French luxury goods conglomerate company which designs, manufactures, distributes, and sells jewellery and watches. Founded in Paris, France, in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, the company remained under family control until 1964. Cartier is known for its jewelry and wristwatches. Cartier has a long history of sales to royalty. King Edward VII of England referred to Cartier as "the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers." For his coronation in 1902, Edward VII ordered 27 tiaras and issued a royal warrant to Cartier in 1904. Similar warrants soon followed from the courts of Spain, Portugal, Russia, Siam, Greece, Serbia, Belgium, Romania, Egypt, Albania, Monaco, and the House of Orleans. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been seen wearing the Cartier Ballon Bleu watch.
3* Van Cleef & Arpels is a French luxury jewelry, watch, and perfume company. It was founded in 1896 by Alfred Van Cleef and his uncle Salomon Arpels in Paris. Their pieces often feature flowers, animals, and fairies, and have been worn by style icons such as Farah Pahlavi, the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Eva Perón. In 1925, a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet with red and white roses fashioned from rubies and diamonds won the grand prize at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts.
4* Christian Dior SE , commonly known as Dior, is a European luxury goods company controlled and chaired by French businessman Bernard Arnault, who also heads LVMH – the world's largest luxury group. Founded in 1948 by the eponyms designer Christian Dior, today the company designs and retails ready-to-wear, leather goods, fashion accessories, footwear, jewelry, timepieces, fragrance, makeup, and skincare products while also maintaining its tradition as a creator of recognized haute-couture.
* By OGP Editors / Michael Cailloux Provides File Photos
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