Garance Vallée is an architect, designer and artist who feels just as at home creating large-scale installations for the runway as she does designing sneakers for Nike. The young Parisian does it all, and she does it well—from sculpture to interior and furniture design, painting, and miniature-scale models that look good enough to live inside of. Featuring organic shapes, curved lines and earthy colour palettes, Garance’s creations feel like a portal straight to the Mediterranean—which is about as close as most of us will be getting to that part of the world for now. We found out more about the limitless imagination of one of Paris’ brightest young talents, below.
You grew up with very creative parents. Were there any rules they taught you to challenge through your art?
No rules, just possibilities. I was lucky growing in an open-minded family that gave me the chance to develop what I had deep inside me. I think the most important thing they continue to tell me today is to do everything with intention.
Travel might not be possible at the moment, but can you remember a particular place you’ve visited that has inspired your work?
I often have vacationed in the south of France, where my husband’s family lives. I know that a lot of references are born there: the seaside architecture, the ochre and red cliffs, the earthy tones of the landscape, the Mediterranean way of living, the colours, textures, and all the stories of artists who arrived at the French Riviera and left their footprints.
Your miniature interior models look good enough to live in. Do you ever use them to experiment for larger-scale artworks?
The miniatures are a direct reference to the models I used to do in architecture studies. It’s a very little world where you have to express the essence of your project without the real materials. I like the position; the body and eyes must adapt to fantasy to live in there or understand the project. I like the subject of the scale a lot, and the fact that this non-human scale; imaginary architecture is a transition between a 2D idea and a real-life future project. To me, it’s the basis of the architecture theory that I like to play with, focusing not on the finished project, but more on the process behind the artistic act. I use them to visualise my projects… I do models for all my installation and scenography works before construction.
You work with such a wide range of materials. What are you particularly loving working with at the moment?
I love experimenting so much with material, I don’t think there’s only one in which you can express an idea. I used to work with concrete, wood, plaster, painting, cardboard… Because of quarantine, at home I don’t have all my materials to work with, but I do have this big, beautiful box full of coloured pencils and I’m trying to develop a new technique to express my ideas.
Your body of work, Corpo e Spazio, in Milan was so beautiful. Did you face any challenges in bringing this installation to life?
The challenge for the fashion show scenography during Milan Design Week was to create a real link between the clothes, the human body and the architectural elements. It was a long process, creating bridges between 3D, sketches, models, and real experiments using my body trying to create the right course. The idea was that the human body would cross, occupy, and transform the space with its presence. Corpo e Spazio was a dialogue between the organic body, the movement of the clothes and the architectural build space.
If you could create your dream room in your dream house, what would it include?
Pretty sure a little white grotto dug in stone with an organic-shaped interior pool!
Where is one of your favourite places to go to in Paris for some creative inspiration?
I love to go and see all the collections through the ages at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, then end up lost in the library, looking for a new vision.
2020 has been a strange year for everyone. Have you learnt anything new during isolation?
You know, in my work I spend a lot of time alone in my mind, absorbed by what I do. It feels almost like a lockdown in my studio normally, creating all day long. Of course it affects me, especially not being able to see my family and friends, but I handle it because I’m familiar with this feeling of being alone with my ideas. It just confirms that even when the body is constrained in a specific space, the mind can be limitless!