Astier de Villatte, started by Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte in Paris, produces an eclectic collection of candles, incense, stationery products, and other artisanal items in the brand’s signature style since 1996. Just as the Astier de Villatte white ceramics are valued as phenomenal art pieces handcrafted by skilled artisans, the scented products have also become emblematic of the brand, creating a unique sensory experience of travel through smell. Like using a historical Linotype machine to print materials, they are dedicated to creating beautiful objects and reviving the functionality of forgotten relics from the past.
Welcome to the 85th issue of B.
Racing toward the deadline for this issue, I took an Instagram break to let off some steam and found a post that I had uploaded four years ago. It said: “Everything feels uncertain and muddied, and we’re living in a time when predicting the future is futile. Housing prices and self-driving cars will not bring us salvation, but beauty—only beauty—can deliver us from this state of uncertainty.” From where I stand now, I half agree and half disagree with this sentiment. This year has sent the world into a swamp of uncertainty, and interest in real estate and stocks has grown more than ever. Big data, cost-effectiveness, and disposability now are key factors influencing consumption trends. Of course, the value of beauty is relative and ever-changing, so we can say that each of us finds and enjoys beauty that suits the times.
This issue is about Astier de Villatte, a French ceramics brand that values the essence of beauty and focuses on making beautiful products at all costs. Simply put, this brand is faithful to the idea that beauty itself can be utility. In regard to the brand’s aesthetics, people who love Astier de Villatte products say, “It’s satisfying to leave an Astier de Villatte item somewhere and just look at it,” and “It’s a beauty that feels like meditation.” What’s interesting is that the beauty they seek comes from imperfection. Astier de Villatte items are all handmade by craftspeople using techniques from the Middle Ages, so the surfaces feature curves instead of being smooth edges. The brand’s ceramics look thinner, lighter in weight, and somewhat weaker than ordinary porcelain. The brand’s signature white color of the ceramics is not consistent either, and the spots of earthen color that show through create an appearance of a delicate piece used by someone long ago.
The brand’s founders both come from artistic families, and they say that they never intended to pursue perfection from the very beginning. They wanted to allow imperfections and variability to capture unintended beauty in their products. This philosophy is supported by the fact that they do not hire highskilled ceramicists in their workshops. Ironically, that’s why Astier de Villatte products remained so vibrant and many people were enchanted by the brand since its establishment in 1996.
Amid all the products that show off their “coolness,” the rather understated Astier de Villatte product ironically stands out. Instead of luring in consumers with a lot of fanfare, The brand’s items are designed to forge an emotional bond between the user and the product. Similar is how Astier chooses locations and decorates their shops. The Astier de Villatte shop in Saint-Honoré, Paris looks like an attic or a study of a manic collector, who collects miscellaneous objects that are strewn about here and there. Storage boxes with jewelry-shaped decorations, candle lids featuring Snoopy, and scented erasers all harmonize because they are created and displayed such that beautiful things naturally attract other beautiful things.
“The most personal is the most creative,” said Joonho Bong, quoting Martin Scorsese when he won the Oscar for Best Director. I think beauty follows the same logic in that the most personal is the most beautiful. You don’t need a cohesive style or help from an algorithm. Whether it’s harmonious or discordant, beauty becomes complete inside each individual person’s world.
Content & Editorial Director
AT THE ATELIER
The atelier where Astier de Villatte’s signature ceramic products are made in the 13th arrondissement of Paris
Astier de Villatte’s lineups that have built up around furniture and ceramics
COMPANIONS: SETSUKO KLOSSOWSKA DE ROLA
Sculptor Setsuko Klossowska de Rola presents collaborative products made from natural materials
The growth story of Astier de Villatte, which has formed its unique world based on artistic inspiration from the past
Cultural and artistic inspiration along with archiving materials that form the roots of the brand
INTERVIEW: IVAN PERICOLI
Astier de Villatte’s cofounder and designer Ivan Pericoli
INTERVIEW: BENOÎT ASTIER DE VILLATTE
Astier de Villatte’s cofounder and designer Benoît Astier de Villatte
Craftsmanship at the SAIG printery of Paris and incense workshop on Awaji Island, Japan
MAP OF SCENT
Astier de Villatte’s sentimental way of naming scented candles under the theme of travel
Ateliers in Paris where beauty is crafted by hand
COMPANIONS: LOU DOILLON
Actress, singer-songwriter, and model Lou Doillon presents her drawing book Drawings and collaboration mugs
THE UNIVERSE OF ASTIER DE VILLATTE
Astier de Villatte shops on Rue Saint- Honoré and Rue de Tournon in Paris
People who love Astier de Villatte’s unique ability to blur the line between everyday items and objets d’art
COMPANIONS: JOHN DERIAN
Collaborating artist and friend of Astier de Villatte’s two founders John Derian shares his tastes and sensibilities
Long-time retail partners who share a similar worldview and outlook with Astier de Villatte
MA VIE À PARIS
Beautiful places in Paris recommended by interviewees
- Publisher Suyong Joh
- Executive Director Myungsoo Kim
- Content & Editorial Director Eunsung Park
- Lead Editor Narae Kim
- Editors Jaewoo Seo, Sol Lyu, Heewon Shin
- Photographer Miyeon Yoon
- Art Direction & Design Yuwon Choi
- Marketing Hyunjoo Kim, Yeubin Kim
- Sales & Distribution Suyeon Kim, Kiran Kim, Soojin Song
- Finance Hyosun Hong
- Managing & Editing (English Edition) Rayna Kim
- Translation (English Edition) Rancy Kim, Bongah Shin, Hyejoo Lee, Seongae Yang, Soonok Hwang
- Copy Editing (English Edition) Sarah Kessler-Jang
- Correspondents Mihye Nam (Tokyo), Lena Shin (LA), Alex Seo (London), Sanghyeok Lee (Berlin), Hyeseon Jeong (Paris), Mark Carter (Bangkok)
- Thanks to Suzy Kim
- Publishing JOH