Eloïse is the kind of woman who has managed to transform many of her passions into a profession at different stages of her life. We wanted to know a bit more about this free spirit through this intimiate interview deeply rooted in softness. She opened us the door of her personal studio located in a beautiful farm near Brussels where she shares the place with other creatives minds and nature lovers.
Can you introduce us to your background :
I studied photography. During my studies I had the chance to work with photographers like Thierry Ballas, or Alain Richard. I learned I lot studying and working the same time I could practice with them. I learned a lot. When I finished my studies, I directly became the assistant of Kurt Stallaert for more than 10 years. When my third child, George, was born, the profession of photographer had evolved and I didn't want to travel so much anymore ! At the same moment, I did a ceramics workshop with the maxi cosy at my feet - that’s why when women ask me if they can come to the workshop with their baby I always say yes because I think it's great to be able to say that we can do things with a newborn - and that workshop was like a thunderbolt. I became totally obsessed with ceramic. At the time it was not at all in vogue, there were very few workshops in Brussels so I quickly enrolled in the academy of Charleroi because the final exams were the most interesting there where I had two fantastic masters : Mazy who is in the technicality of earthenware and glazes and Legrand, who is a great ceramist. 10 years ago I opened my own workshop and also became a teacher at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels.
Can you talk about your approach and your latest work?
I always have a purist approach, in photography, I would never retouch or reframe and it is the same for ceramic. My work is more ancient than modern, I like things in their natural, original and raw state. I want it to be meditative and soothing. My latest work is an ode to my love for philosophy. I have created and continue to create series of vessels that I call my philosophers. My interest is mostly in ancient philosophy which is a philosophy of well being and common sense. Each piece is named after the philosopher who was part of my reflections during the period of work on my piece. The blisters I create are a reference to the 'know thyself' written on the temple of Apollo at Delphi. It's a sentence that has a great symbolism in the ancient philosophy and that leads to some bad interpretations: it's not knowing you, we never know each other but it means knowing your limits. These blisters represent the limits of how far I can go.
What is the biggest lesson nature has told you?
I learned that we should not talk about 'Nature' because it creates a hierarchy between us and nature. It is better to talk about the environment. This is very strong in South America. The residents of Amazonia had for example during demonstrations, people who represented each the rivers, naked other who represented the trees, the volcanos etc. Nature teaches you that there is a limit, that everything is not eternal and without limits. It was to celebrate these environments connecting us to the living. In philosophy we talk a lot about this, cutting ourselves off from the living makes us unhappy. The living environment must be part of us.
"I like things in their natural, original and raw state"
How do you resource yourself to never run out of inspiration or to find it again?
In everything that is related to living things, taking care of my dogs, walking in the forest and seeing my trees. There is something incredible about these living things.
Among yours previous trips, are there any landscapes that have particularly inspired you?
What I love most about traveling is feeling your place in this environment. And the place where I feel it the most is at sea or in the mountains. In difficult moments I project myself in these environments. The last trips that have marked me: Greece, I imagined all these philosophers having been able to contemplate the same landscapes, fascinated me. I also went to the Seychelles, which is normally not my type but I have been mesmerized by the beauty of the environment and in particular of a beach filled with granite blocks, speechless.
A square of silk, because I have a tic I have to keep it between my toes when I sleep (laugh). I must have inherited this quirk from my grandmother who had always a small piece of angora fabric that she was fiddling with in her hands... My anti-water oil from Clarins, a smell that has obsessed me since I was 14 years old. And my bible, the essays of Michel de Montaigne. he's my all-time hero. He did not like dogmas, he was a free spirit who was a real epicure. He is the only one who accepts life with its ambivalences, to contradict himself. He was a great humanist without judgement. A rather gentle approach in itself.
We love your style, can you describe it to us?
My style is an associations of colors and textures. It comes from my child's head, I have always loved everything related to folklore, costumes,... That's why I love Ullah Johnson. Her parents were anthropologists so she loves things from the past and she fetches specialties from all over the world. Another point is that you will never see me with synthetic materials, maybe sometimes a little bit with Ganni. This brand awakens my kitsch side, they are master in getting close to something which could be considered as bad taste but without ever crossing the line! Otherwise I love mix & match new clothes and second hand ! My favorite spots : Ramon and Valy, Isabelle bajart, Lady dandy.
What does the term 'Softness' evoke to you?
Softness is hidden in so many things! I associate it with environment that allows things to grow, to facilitate development. Whether it is for a child or a flower, an insect with the chrysalis that becomes a butterfly! To return to the philosophy that makes me think of Ghandi with his ability to manage conflicts with gentleness. A rather violent weapon for those who do not understand it.
If softness was a music?
I am a fan of Jazz. I love to get lost with Chet Baker, Bill Evans, Airelle Besson, Ibrahim Malhouff or Christian Scott. Otherwise there is an incredible artist called Alabaster Deplume: an English poet whose messages are full of kindness. He puts the human in its place with extreme accuracy.
How do you bring softness into your life?
I consider Softness as love. I have noticed that when you are loving, generous, sweet, you'll encounter softness. It's a flow. And when you understand the flow, the bad people move away from you. Love and gentleness are linked and if you make it your value and share it with the ones you love that's how you can bring softness into your daily live.
It goes beyond the idea of saying I love a sweater, when I put on one of your creations, I feel like I'm in a cloud. When I put on my de Lana, I know that I'm also soft for others, they want to touch me (laugh)! So there is a relationship of extreme softness when I think about what Macarena does ! I receive a lot of compliment when wearing them and let's be honest, when your ego is flattered, it feels good ! And I don't have that with others clothes. I also adore the concept of coming to your studio, choosing the color with your mom who understands everything who's extremely sweet. I cherish my 5 de Lana with my whole heart !