As you know, I love spending a few hours wandering in the Marais and visiting the galleries I know but also discovering new shops every time. I ventured into Empreintes a design space located at 5 rue de Picardie, which opened a few years ago. On the ground floor little presents, earrings, ceramics, seem pleasant enough but nothing extra-ordinary. Once you climb the two floors above, you enter a world of creativity and discover artisans with a true talent. I realized what a treasure mine this place was when I saw the video of carpenter Stéphane Leroux repairing the roof of Manoir de Verdigné. He is one of the two laureates of the 2020 Prix des Concours d’atelier d’Art.
Stéphane Leroux started his career as a carpenter at 14. Named compagnon, he went around France learning all techniques of (charpentes) frames for churches as well as castles. Established in Nogent-le-Bernard in the Sarthe where his father already had his company, he concentrates on ancient techniques and old photographs to restore historical monuments identically but with modern tools. He won the prize for Patrimoine this year. You can see a video of how he restored the Manoir de Verdigné built in 1590 and it is quite a mind blowing experience.
Trained at Ecole Boulle and at Ecole des Beaux Arts in Tokyo Mathieu Gillet is a dinandier (coppersmith). He sculpts metal and combines it with other material like wood. He was awarded this year the prize for Creativity by Le Concours des Ateliers d’art de France with a table “Physio” in wood and copper, elaborated in his studio in Carpentras. There, he has created a center for artists Atelier GM, where a group of young creators develop new ways of conceiving building techniques and furniture design.
Once you understand all the work that goes into each piece, you start to truly appreciate the art. In the Galerie Collection on the top floor of Empreintes, I noticed Paulina Okurowska‘ slate sculptures (1 000 to 2000€) which you hang on the wall. She works out of her studio in Nantes. And Ananda Aragundi-Hanus‘ stoneware pieces (250 € to 3000€) which I loved.
Jocelyne Bosschot mixes schist and gold in her sculptures. Zoé Montagu creates earrings with horse hair, Barbara Billoud sculpts lamps in ceramics which look like feathers. On my way out I had a weakness for Serge Nicole’s little porcelain knife holders in the shape of a lobster or libellule.
Artisans are more and more celebrated in France and their hard work is recognized every year by the Prix de l’Intelligence de la main and other competitions. This place Empreintes at 5 rue de Picardie (corner of rue de Bretagne) is a beautiful window for Les Métiers d’Art. And you can even buy some very affordable objects!
Empreintes Paris’s website has more pieces to show and you can buy everything directly from the artist’s workshops.
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