Maison Balzac launches a new collection, Les Fruits de Mer
Glassware brand Maison Balzac launches its latest collection, Les Fruits de Mer, inspired by the European summer you haven’t been able to experience for the past two years. A culmination of founder, Elise Pioch’s childhood memories and a desire to escape to the Mediterranean, the brand’s latest release is steeped in summery patterns and pastel colours.
For Pioch, everything the brand produces is destined to become a treasured heirloom, and Les Fruits de Mer is no different for Maison Balzac. With the idea of longevity in mind, she says the brand ethos is rooted in trans-seasonal appeal.
“What fascinates me the most is that everything we create has no seasonality – it doesn’t have to expire in three months, it can be for the next 30 years,” explains Pioch. . “You can have a candle holder on your desk or a decanter and it suits me to have combined my love for design, but also my personal quest for longevity.”
Maison Balzac is a brand steeped in Pioch’s heritage and background, with the latest collection drawing inspiration from his childhood spent in the south of France along the Mediterranean.
“Balzac is actually the name of my mother and my grandparents and all my ancestors on my mother’s side, so I wanted to recreate their world because the two of them always had so much fun with their homes,” explains Pickaxe from the collection. we were deprived of flying and going to Europe for so long that I wanted to bring [Europe] wherever we are.
Here, we talk with Pioch about the journey that led her to create Maison Balzac, the thoughts behind Les Fruits de Mer and how she continues to reinvent her craft.
Can you tell me a bit about your background and how you created Maison Balzac?
I studied fashion and textile management in Paris and right out of school I was lucky enough to be employed at Hermès at the head office in Paris. I was in charge of all public relations for the women’s collection designed by Margiela – I worked with Martin for almost four years and when he left Hermès in 2004, I left too. I was 28 years old and I really wanted to improve my English because in France we don’t really study English. I took a round trip to Australia to immerse myself in an English-speaking country for three months. Long story short, I never use my return ticket.
Then just like that I was 36 and I thought I had already spent 10 years in fashion and it’s time to do a bit of a reset and a refresh and for some reason even though my passion will always be there fashion, I was really exhausted with the pace and the fact that we had to have a full collection and when I left we were even talking about collections between collections and that would have been eight drops a year, eight trips a year. I was really against a lot of these things.
I believe in saving the planet and so my heart was no longer connected to the industry and how it works. However, my love for color, texture, interior design was there and it took me a while to decide what would make me happy for the next 20 years and I just wanted to tell a story. very personal story my happy childhood, my taste for color and perfume. I wanted to express my story through fine fragrance, and that’s how I started the five candles from Maison Balzac. Very quickly he [Maison Balzac] evolved by trying to introduce these objects that surrounded my childhood and bring them into modern times. It started with glassware, then incense and cashmere throws, and now we have wonderful room sprays, all of those things.
How did you find the Seafood theme? Was it influenced by the pandemic-induced desire to travel?
The first reason, again, is very personal because I was born in a small town in the south of France on the shores of the Mediterranean. Almost every day after school we went to the beach and had picnics or barbecues with my parents and my two brothers. So I have this deep love and appreciation for the Mediterranean. Being so close to Spain, we spent one weekend a month on the Costa Brava in Salvador Dali’s holiday village.
I really wanted to bring that memory to the surface and have a collection that really tells everything that makes them so appealing. It’s the coral colors, the little scallops you find on the beach, the warmth of the sun, the small waves – not the big ones in Sydney! I just had to tap into my childhood, my memory and who I am and where I come from.
With the whole campaign, styled by Joseph Gardner, he felt the same and said “I’m sorry Elise, but we’re not going to go into the studio to shoot, I can’t wait to be on the edge of the ocean”, so it was shot in Clovelly at six in the morning. He just wanted to dream, to see the sky and the clouds. We replicated this little piece of the Mediterranean on the beaches of Sydney to dream it was and we could do it again. Each object is part of this dream of traveling, geographically towards the Mediterranean, but also of traveling in time for me towards my childhood spent in the Mediterranean.
How does your creative process work and how do you continue to reinvent yourself in what you do with a new collection for Maison Balzac?
I have an internal vision of what I do and I don’t know what it looks like from an external point of view. All I can say is that I am extremely prolific with ideas, dreams and positivity. It’s just who I am, I love telling stories, and in between all my fashion work I’ve written children’s books. The funny thing is that Balzac is the same name as a famous 19th century writer, Honoré de Balzac. I almost feel like it’s my duty to carry on this tradition of Balzac through writing, but instead of presenting my work in the form of books, it’s in the form of objects. Every object you hold in your hand will literally tell that story I had in mind for this season.
Based on that, I then asked my creators, “hey, can you make a glass octopus?” and they’re like “of course!” By letting artisans carve my thoughts and translate them into their craftsmanship and art, it’s like a reinvention because these are my ideas, but seen through the eyes of all these creators, their hands and what they can do. Together we tell this story from a very different angle and I think it’s something we know how to do now after so many years of connecting with these beautiful young people.
Do you have any rules yourself when considering putting things in a room and growing a space?
More and more people feel that our home has become our nest, either because we have to or because we like to be there. Whatever the reason, we’re on the inside a lot.
Now, it’s normal to split your budget between fashion and home a little more evenly now, I would say. When it comes to my interiors, I’ve always loved creating homes that I love, and this has only one golden rule for it to work for me. Sometimes I can go to any little flea market, garage sale, antique store and pick out something that I really don’t like, but I take it home, put it on a little table and that works because I like it. Someone else might come in and say, “Oh, that’s really eclectic taste,” but that’s mine.
Don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t work or it’s not right. You just have to like it. Don’t have a defined taste, it just has to please you.
How to find the balance between style and functionality? Do you find that having this balance can sometimes be a challenge to maintain?
Because I’m a mom, I’m a full-time business owner, I’m busy. I don’t have time for impractical items in my life, so everything we make at Maison Balzac has to be either dishwasher safe or impact resistant. Our glasses are stackable, because it has to go in a pantry. It can never just be pretty for us at Maison Balzac, it always comes from a practical angle and if one day I lose it and present something to the team that isn’t practical, they would bring me back to the raison.
Among Les Fruits de Mer, what are your three favorite pieces?
The Coucou vase in Indigo, the Dune tray in black and white and the Dot Dot tray.
Seafood from Maison Balzac is now available to shop.