Tenue de Ville Design - 28 July 2017
Three years ago, multidisciplinary artist Alexia de Ville de Goyet launched Tenue de Ville, a wallpaper brand that is already dressing up the interiors of several boutiques in the capital city (Ernest, on rue des Chartreux, and Chouke, on rue du Bailli). Now, the brand is preparing to take over the world. We met with the young, thirty-something artist with the big future and even bigger ambitions.
The Tenue de Ville brand wasn’t always about wallpaper. Tell us how you got here...
I first graduated in scenography from Saint-Luc in Brussels. I then trained in different artistic techniques, such as videography, photography, etc. With my love for design, I was initially interested in creating a clothing brand, which I called Tenue de Ville, as a play on my family name of course. After my first collection, I realised that only the artistic side of fashion – creating printed materials, in particular – truly interested me. The cutting work, and developing a ready-to-wear collection, were much less interesting for me.
Tell us about the meeting that reoriented you towards the world of interior design.
Someone suggested that I develop a wallpaper brand. From the outset, I knew that I wanted to differentiate myself from digital printing; to use a traditional production technique, along with Belgian manufacturing. The artisanal colourists' work enabled me to achieve the effects I wanted, especially for integrating metallic pigments or flakes, etc.
Can you describe the creative process you use for your collections?
I work in a very intuitive way using inspirational images and memories from my travels. The current collection, Balsam, plays with the range of metallic shades. It has a less figurative spirit than my early efforts; amongst others, I use torn and layered paper that is assembled, then scanned and redrawn. For Balsam, I also experimented with raised inks which create a structure in the paper. My fourth collection, scheduled for release in January 2018, is inspired by the traditional kimonos I saw in Asia, which I have interpreted in an illustrative and more pictorial way. Alongside a classic range that uses repeated patterns in sea greens and gold, I offer a more contemporary, digitally produced approach, for example, a design of oversized stones in black and white.
What about your (very special) chromatic research?
Colour is central to my approach. Each pattern (14 per collection, all copyrighted) is available in several colours. It works out to about 50 plates in total. Each design is produced for four years. Afterwards, it is removed from the collection. However, I can always seek out an old pattern – on that has already been used or that has stayed in my drawers - and reinterpret it in a completely different way later.
During the past few months, you have been refining the brand’s image, especially with a series of short films…
At the beginning, I didn’t see this project as a marketing tool. I was simply approached by director Edouard Valette, who shares my artistic sensibilities and taste for photography and videography, two disciplines I explored during my studies. Our association was therefore logical and natural. Over the course of a year, we worked on a series of five small filmed pictures that highlight the various references in the Balsam collection. More than a marketing plan, it is a lovely, nuanced collaboration that underscores the artistic dimensions of the brand and its high-end identity.
And this identity enables you to position yourself internationally.
During the two international tradeshows I took part in last January - Textile M in Frankfurt and Maison & Objet in Paris – I identified new points of sale in Russia, Spain and France. My next challenge: the American market, one of the most difficult to conquer. A year ago, I took some time to contemplate the future of the brand. Today, my goal is to sell less, but within the right positioning, in-line with the identity I wish to give the label. Recently, I also hired my first employee whose mission is to boost our visibility in social media.
Interview by Marie Honnay.
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Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode is closely collaborating with TLmag for interviewing a selection of Belgian talents in fashion and design from Wallonia and Brussels, in order to promote them on the international scene.
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