It's no big revelation that Morocco should be a source of inspiration for anyone but, it was a small revelation to me.
I have always thought of myself as a minimalist and I have often said that my dream home would be an empty white box (sounds a bit weird, possibly sinister) but basically, I like things clean.
But, what's there not to appreciate? Everything is beautiful, the interiors are a combination of European, Mediterranean and African styles and they've pretty much cherry-picked the best bits. Combine that with the rich making culture of the Berbers and you're onto a winner of unpretentiously enviable interiors in colours that make sense in the sunshine.
Here are some of my photos from September/ October last year. Mainly from Essaouira and the Airbnb we stayed at but also from Marrakech.
Mainly shot on my iPhone but a few are scans of photos taken on an Olympus Pen EE point and shoot which is a little half-frame camera, you get two images on a single 24 x 36 frame. It's fun and achieved some good results.
I have always enjoyed flowers but, over the last few years, they have become a bit of an obsession for me. I recently remembered that I used to find blurry closeup shots of flowers in between our family holiday snaps taken by my Mum. I would laugh and think it was a funny thing to do. Many years later a scroll through my iPhone will show you more flowers than people. Fair to say, I get it now Mum.
I find it interesting that the big trend at The Chelsea Flower Show this year was for relaxed natural planting. Using native flowers or plants that grow wild in the UK. This is something that appeals to me greatly and it seems to be a larger trend affecting many, not just in respect to what we want in our gardens and green spaces but what we want in our lives in general. Honesty, simplicity and a real feeling of genuineness in all areas of our lives and that to me, is an encouraging thing.
For a recent shoot, I worked with Nicole Bachmann to explore unusual vases and naturalistic flower arrangements. I have been very inspired by florists who go against the norm of typical flower arranging celebrating the individual characteristics of a particular plant or flower and putting arrangements together in a way that feels unpretentious, sincere whilst also being quite playful. In essence, they feel very human rich with personality. I think the florists Medb and fjura do this particularly well.
For the floral arrangements, I wanted to use locally grown flowers so I approached Wolves Lane Flower Company, a seasonal flower farm based in North London. Who provided me with two brimming buckets of flowers and foliage.
Charles Antoine was a new discovery for me who I spotted on the Milk Decoration website. His work is very distinctive and isn't something I've ever seen before.
I sent across a few questions to Charles Antoine so I could understand his practice a bit better.
What is your background? How did you come to do what you are doing now?
I am half Swiss half Brazilian, I studied graphic design at ECAL in Switzerland and then Textile Design at La Cambre in Brussels.
I am now based in Amsterdam and I mostly experiment with textiles and soft materials through handmade processes.
What is the process of making your work?
It’s all about assembling and structuring yarns or fibres in different ways, so my process is very intuitive, open-ended and material-based. I let the intrinsic qualities of the textiles I create lead me to certain applications. I also make a lot of drawings and experiments on my computer which can influence my handmade processes.
The forms of my vases are also created by intuitively assembling discarded glass structures that I find in my surroundings. There are always some aleatory parts in my process and I find it very important and exciting to not define everything in advance but let things happen.
I then try to balance these random shapes with the handles of the vase. To me they are the most important part of my work, they help bring its materiality, which is close to basketry and something rawer, to a more sculptural form.
I always loved the big greek amphorae with tiny little handles, they are like characters to me screaming "Please pick me up!". I enjoy the human feeling of objects and that’s something I’m trying to achieve in my work.
Do you see your vases as works of art or functional items or both?
I will say that I create sculptural objects, I like that they have a function because it brings it into a dynamic that can ask for action. I would like to say that they are 'Wild Things', based on a book by Hilde Bouchez - who tries to describe all these qualities that can give an extra dimension to an object. But maybe it is not for me to decide.
Thank you, Charles Antoine!
(the book Charles Antoine makes reference to is A Wild Thing by Hilde Bouchez).