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Pascale Girardin: Reverie in Creation

Printemps Haussmann stores in Paris, Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, Al Badia Golf Club in Dubai, Nobu Downtown in New York, Four Seasons hotels in Las Vegas and, more recently, in Montreal: in all four corners of the world, luxury establishments are devouring her work. It must be said that in her 20-year career, Pascale Girardin has developed a unique style. Whether it be installations, works of art embedded in architecture, tableware or art objects, her signature aesthetic is immediately recognizable. She welcomed LUXE at her workshop in the Rosemont neighborhood.



With a welcoming and serene face, Girardin welcomes us this morning in her bright studio of 4000 square feet. Around her, her “brigade,” a team of seven ceramic artists, whose average age (which includes his son Wolfe) must be around twenty-five. “Although I offer my vision to my team while carrying out a project, unlike a chef, I remain open to suggestions. Our exchanges enrich me and allow me to evolve my practice.” Communicate, exchange, evolve. Three notions she will come back to often during our meeting and which seem to be the crux of her outlook to life as well as her profession.


Saks Fifth Avenue, New York


Moreover, after twenty-five years in her field, in full command of her artistic ability, Girardin decided one year ago to return to school to pursue a Master’s degree in visual arts at UQAM. “I needed to think about the creative process, about the relationship to material in our journey of self-discovery. Often, we are pulled in one way, but we learn that how it turns out is not always what we initially had in mind.”


To be open to discovery and to the unexpected is what Girardin quickly learned while working with clay, because it clay can be very capricious: “We must accept that material teaches us rather than trying to control it. I’m developing my skill with the total humility of a beginner, and the more I know, the less I know. But that’s what is wonderful and motivates me to continue! I always say to my customers: ‘It should work,’ but I can never be completely sure,” she explains.

Having studied biology before her formation as a visual and plastic artist, Girardin spent long hours developing the chemical formula that would allow her to obtain the color and the product she imagines. But a host of obstacles can arise in the creation of a ceramic piece: it can explode in the oven, sink, distort, split. You have to be ready to recover from these failures quickly. “In this business, we cannot cry about the past, about all the lost hours. We start again and our thoughts change,” says Girardin.


West Edmonton Mail

Reverie and Zen Buddhism

According to Zen Buddhism, when one abandons her conception of what a thing is supposed to be, she can appreciate it for what it is. This is the philosophy that Girardin has adopted full-heartedly. Rather than discarding imperfect works, she places them on a shelf in her studio and waits. “After days, weeks and even months of gestation, I’ll make new connections to the piece and one such connection finally reveals itself as the one that should be pursued.” That is how her totem series was born.


Letting go, letting her mind get lost in reverie, that is the artist’s personal mantra. Her blog is also regularly part of these “drift,” that is to say, her wandering artistic vagabond thoughts that can evolve and lead to an idea. Fascinated by scholarly works, she found echoes of her research in those of the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, who himself was very interested in the role of reverie in creation. From an artistic point of view, she has Japanese sources of inspiration, especially ceramics from the Edo period, known for its minimalist and abstract aesthetics. The current generation, whom she is surrounded by daily in her studio—as well as the School of Visual and Media Arts at UQAM where she teaches—is also a powerful springboard for renewal.


In addition to her upcoming orders for Saks Fifth Avenue, the Las Vegas Convention Center and luxury cruise ships, Girardin is planning an exhibition for May 2020 that will combine ceramics, floor installation and video projections. The exhibit will be an opportunity for her to share the fruits of her labour, including her reflection on the link between all of these different mediums, as veritable true “communicating vessels.” An occasion not to be missed.


Nobu Downtown, New York


Text: Diane Stehle

Photos : © Stephany Hildebrand

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