Typography virtuoso Ebon Heath and Villeroy & Boch join forces to create 100 unique works of art

(photo: Villeroy & Boch)
(photo: Villeroy & Boch)

A handful of loam, a little water, a touch of fire to lend it permanence. Whether coarse earthenware, choice porcelain or fibre-enhanced high-tech innovations, ceramics are convenient, versatile and – for the last 30,000 years – frequently a reflection and mirror of society.

After all, the material’s malleable diversity fires up our imagination – in everyday use as in artistic expression. A prime example: the new Second Glance cooperation between type and graphic artist Ebon Heath and the ceramics experts at Villeroy & Boch. 

Art and artisanship
More often than not, it is well-placed (style) clashes and targeted disruptions that drive the dynamics of innovation. In this spirit, Villeroy & Boch, too, continues to explore and break new ground in terms of technology and design. After all, artistic talents and creative excursions run in the company’s DNA – and in the blood of the founding family with painters Anna and Eugène Boch, photographer Monika von Boch, designer Helene von Boch and now photographer Michel von Boch. Furthermore, the brand continues to foster exceptional artists and masters of their chosen profession including Gauguin or van Gogh, both of whom entertained a close friendship with Anna and Eugène Boch – van Gogh’s portrait of Eugène “The Poet” is currently on display at the MusĂ©e d’Orsay in Paris.

Innovation through inspiration
The ceramic manufacturer’s latest collaboration, with typography artist Ebon Heath, throws a welcome spotlight on the merits of creative/craft combinations that might seem unusual at first look. And make all the more sense when given a second chance and glance.

In a seamless symbiosis of tradition, trend and contemporary currents, their joint project Second Glance helps to imbue art with tangible immediacy: with surprising moments and frictional aesthetics that breathe new life into the streamlined elegance of a gently curved ceramic object.

Steeped in 264 years of brand history, this close collaboration between artist and company encourages a focused exchange and cross-pollination of different and diverging approaches to allow something entirely new to spring from its contextual, technological and aesthetic intersections.  As part of this dynamic process, the cosmopolitan artist’s intuitive creativity meets and clashes with the clear structures and predetermined manufacturing steps of a modern company that is usually confined to a strict production framework and narrowly defined schedules.

The result is an interdisciplinary collaboration with clear mutual benefits: Inspired by Villeroy & Boch’s material and décor expertise, Ebon Heath went on to create several further Second Glance works, a. o. a poem-turned-mobile (Typographic Mobiles) blending Villeroy & Boch’s core competency ceramics with Heath’s pronounced penchant for typography. The resulting installation comprises 166 individual ceramic letters – fashioned into the seven lines and title of his Second Glance poem – and was assembled especially for the occasion.

The experts at Villeroy & Boch, on the other hand, invested plenty of innovatory energy and enthusiasm into the necessary flexibilisation of the production process. In order to realise the artist’s vision, they jettisoned established paradigms to develop entirely novel solutions for the project’s colour and décor requirements – creating valuable know-how for future product innovations.

100 originals – the limited LoopArt collection
The product of this collaboration is quintessentially Villeroy & Boch. And yet entirely different. Decorative graphic elements with 18 carat white gold embellishments and a novel haptic structure, scattered across a limited series of 100 LoopArt objects, give new context to select snippets of the company’s rich brand history –abstracted to the point where it takes a second or third glance to decipher their origin. Lovingly crafted by hand, every single object becomes an original work of art in its own right, a three-dimensional canvas for Ebon Heath’s visual remix.

Further information on the project: www.villeroy-boch.com/second-glance

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