Let me take a moment to introduce you to one of my design heroes – I know you will love her if you don’t already. Say hello to Caroline Gomez. I can’t tell you how or when it was that I found her work, but it was a moment of “ohhhh, she really gets it”. From the smooth, organic shapes she creates in her tablewares, the natural materials she loves to work with to the achingly beautiful photography and art direction she produces for her ‘Destination’ travel books, she is always on point. And she works out of her home studio in Bordeaux whilst spinning the plates of motherhood which as you know will only earn her more brownie points from me.
Much of Caroline’s work gives me the feeling of carefree summer days, the moment just before the sun dips below the horizon, balmy evening air and the warmth in the pavement walking barefoot with wanderlust, just because. And her latest tableware collection, Lena, is no exception as she tells me in this gorgeous interview…
• Hello Caroline! Introduce us to the new Lena collection – what inspired the organic shapes? Do you collaborate with other artisans to create your pieces?
The Lena collection is about summer days. I wanted a convivial collection for the family with organic shapes and powdery colours. I pictured myself on holidays, trying to feel the overwhelming impression of summer heat, sitting at a large table in the shade of a tree and then I asked myself: which pieces of tableware would I like to see on it? The jug reminds me of my holidays at my grandparents’ in the country and the two bowls have different volumes and work with all kinds of summer tables. Once I figured out the shapes, I spent several months researching with the help of the ceramist I work with before I ended with this specific smooth texture, which reminds me of the way our suntanned skin feels in the summer.
• Your ceramics seem to revolve around a similar muted colour palette – is this a deliberate choice? What influences that?
I like to combine simple designs and delicate colours so they can match any style of home whatever the colour palette. I like to imagine versatile objects that can easily find their place at home.
• I love your travel books for their minimal, graphic style and their off-the-beaten-track perspective. What’s your process in terms of researching, exploring and shooting the locations?
Choosing and researching for each location takes about one year. I never look at the existing guides so I can keep a fresh eye on the city. I try and get in touch with local artists and artisans and exchange with them about my project. In fact, for my two latest books, I also interviewed them so I can fully share my encounters with the readers.
• You work from home, how do you separate your work from family life particularly as the main living area of your home is open plan? How do you relax/slow down when you need to?
Yes, I have a small office and studio at home, separated from the other rooms. My home is suffused with light and it is very pleasant to live and work there. It’s also very convenient and I try and spend as much time as possible with my daughter. I can take her and collect her from school every day. I am glad that I can glean all these sweet family moments. Even though these days my work takes more and more time and space and I’d really need a bigger studio! When we need to relax, we drive either to the nearby ocean coast or countryside and take a break from the frantic pace of city life.
• How do you combine colour with minimal style at home? Are there any particular rules or advice that you would recommend to achieve this look?
First I painted it all white and then I added touches of colours depending on the room fitting. The idea is to bring rhythm and create different atmospheres. Colours cover the walls either totally or partially so they may underline or complete the architecture of the place. I like colours to subtly delineate volumes and shapes.
• We’re seeing a more mindful move toward raw and natural materials and production methods within design – do you think this will become more permanent in future?
I find that going for mindful production methods and working only with natural materials is the best solution for the future. I like to think that my objects get better and nobler with time and remain of use generation after generation, thus respecting the environment.
• Which designers and brands influence and inspire you and your work?
Designers such as Finn Juha, Lucie Rie, Hans Wegner created timeless pieces that are still influencing to this day. But now I find that the approach and energy of people as different as Katie Lockhart, Olivier Gustav, Taylor Brûlé, Giada Forte or All the way to Paris are fascinating and full of resources! Their worlds and personalities are an inspiration to me.
Photography © Caroline Gomez