Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist

Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist

A tightly-packed crowed of visitors thronged to 15, rue Martel in Paris’s 10th arrondissement this weekend. The reason? A sale held at the studio of the ceramicist, Kalou Dubus. This former textile designer discovered this ancestral art in a studio in the city of Paris and decided to make it his life’s work. It was a revelation. Following initial training in Greece, under the artist, Sabrina Binda, and her earthenware, sandstone and porcelain pottery, this young woman continued her journey. She visited a cousin of hers, a potter, to get a sense of her art and honed her skills at classes in Mire, a workshop created by Japan’s Kayoko Hayasaki. After that, she set out on her own. With a passion for the creative process, which forces artists to learn humility and patience, she designs, fires, shapes and enamels her work before letting it rest and starting over. Again and again. From one test to another, Kalou Dubus lets the clay speak for itself, changing the proportions of a failed attempt, accentuating a particular aspect or line of her design. Her creations include flower pots, tea sets and, most recently, lamps that she has enjoyed encrusting with semi-precious stones. Fashioning everyday items with the care of a goldsmith, Kalou Dubus sets a particular tone with her game-changing range of accessories that are like nothing else in existence. So much so, her works have already won over Isabel Marant, who has placed an order for all her store openings.

Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist

Kalou, can you introduce yourself? What is your background?

Kalou

I studied Decorative Arts in Paris and then I became an independent textile designer. At the same time, I was also involved in set design and decoration projects. Then I started up a clothing brand called Night Is Coming On (NICO). I discovered ceramics in a workshop in the city of Paris, then at Sabrina Binda’s in Greece. I loved it. So I decided to make it my new occupation. I continued my training at the home of my 80-year-old potter cousin, then on the excellent courses at the Japanese ceramicist Kayoko Hayasaki’s Mire workshop. I bought a kiln and a wheel and started working on my own.

How do you plan your pieces in terms of design?

Kalou

Often I draw beforehand, sometimes I start from a failed piece that I have put aside. I do it all over again by changing the proportions, improving, accentuating an aspect or just repeating the technique. When I make pieces in the kiln, I decide on the type of object I will make. Then it’s really on the spot that it takes shape. Or not! It frequently fails because I am often looking for the breaking point, where everything falls apart. When I work on a series, it’s more structured and precise.

Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist

I really like Japanese ceramics which is often quite rustic, falsely imperfect, masterful, and at the same time spontaneous.

Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist

What is the process involved in developing a piece? Can you tell us about the process in terms of time?

Kalou

It is a long process, and the product can be ruined in a few moments. For example, with an under-fired glaze, badly applied. Or with a poorly executed glaze recipe or a crack during firing. Ceramics requires a lot of patience and humility. You have a lot of failures before you produce a successful piece. You begin by beating and kneading the clay to make it more flexible and to remove any air bubbles. Then you shape the piece using different techniques: for me mainly the wheel or building with slabs. This can take five minutes, a day or several days. Then the piece is left to dry as gently as possible under plastic to avoid cracks. Depending on its particular characteristics, it takes more or less time, but it can take up to a month for large pieces like the ones I create for Isabel Marant‘s boutiques. Then we fire for the first time at 980 degrees, this firing is called “the biscuit” or, in French, “le dégourdi”. The kiln takes about 12 hours to heat up to the desired temperature and 24 hours to cool down. The piece is then glazed. The firing temperature is raised to about 1250 degrees for this, and 48 hours later we open the kiln hoping to find some pleasant surprises.

What are your references, who are the people who inspire you?

Kalou

I really like Japanese ceramics which is often quite rustic, falsely imperfect, masterful, and at the same time spontaneous. In France, the 50s and 70s were very fruitful and also saw the birth of great ceramists such as Roger Capron, Jacques Blin, George Jouve, Suzanne Ramié, Pierre Digan to name but a few. The scene today is also very exciting. Like the fabulous Grayson Perry currently on display in the Monnaie de Paris, a completely incredible artist.

Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist

Do you have a favourite time in design, decoration?

Kalou

I was born in the 70s. I am still receptive to this aesthetic and its codes. It is childhood, it is joyful, it is sweet and optimistic. But I like mixtures and surprises.

What are your preferred materials?

Kalou

Ceramics, concrete, the stones that I buy from collectors or at professional fairs.

How would you like to develop your work, your “collection” long-term?

Kalou

I want to stay free as I am today. To continue to explore, produce, please myself and collaborate on projects with architects, decorators or landscape designers.

Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist
Kalou Dubus, a Unique Ceramic Artist

Deco inspiration...

Lorenzo Mattotti illustrates the unfathomable

Lorenzo Mattotti illustrates the unfathomable

Lorenzo Mattotti is the hotshot of Italian illustration. Meeting him is his Parisian workshop in the 10th arrondissement, where he has been working for about fifteen years, was pretty special. A visit full of ink, oil pastels and coloured pencils....

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