Emilie Lemardeley in conversation with Laura Harris about her design business, Lemardeley Designs.
Emilie Lemardeley is founder of Lemardeley Designs and is based in Clamart, France. Lemardeley is an artist and designer who works closely with a range of artistans to create interiors and also public installations. Lemardeley holds an MA in Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art, a BA in Literature and Political Sciences and also a BA in Fine Art from Olivier de Serres.
Watch the Youtube video here of the Lemardeley's Clamart Installation.
Laura: Welcome everybody, so it’s the 25th of June, and today I am going to be speaking with Emilie Lemardeley, who runs her own business. She is an artist and an interior designer. Her business very much about design and installation. You studied the MA in art business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, which is how I met you, and then, later on, you decided to specialise more on your artistic side and studied back in France again.
Emilie: Yeah, it's true, I studied a lot after my A-Levels, and I think it was because I was interested in culture and civilisation. Now when you study, you go to the internet and you find your answers, but when I was a kid, if you wanted to find some answers, you had to go to the library and listen to your professor. I studied Political Science and History but also Art History, to find the key to the image. It was very interesting. I wanted to discover the key to the universe.
Laura: I guess that studying science or something more technical at the beginning gave you a broader understanding of the technical aspect of what you do today. I am interested in the craftsmanship side of what you do. Can you talk to us about that, how do you design your pieces, do you work closely with other designers?
Emilie: I am an artist, but I am an artist and a coordinator, which means I’m not the artist of one material, I work with many craftspeople with me who are specialised in one material, like marble, resin, gilding and metal. I work with them and I coordinate to make a piece. For example, for the last works of art I’ve done for the city of Clamart, I was working with a metal worker, a resin team, gilders and also with a factory for the galvanization of the piece, and with factory also for the laser cut process. I had eleven people to coordinate on that project. I draw, but after that, I give the art to a specialist and that's why it's very important for me to speak with them, to see if they feel the same way as me.
Laura: Fascinating. Are a lot of these factories and craftspeople based in France, or do you kind of outsource anything to other places?
Emile: No, I do everything in France, because it's closer to me and I just take the train or the plane and it's easy to speak with them just for two hours and come back to Paris.
Laura: Yeah, it’s amazing that all of that expertise is in France, because I think probably in the UK, we have lots of artisans too, but there might be someone in Italy or France or somewhere that you would work with to complete a project. I guess in that sense is quite important that you are keeping the industry alive in France?
Emilie: In France at the moment, we are very aware of the fact that we still have some very good workers in the decorative arts, and I try to keep that alive.
Laura: That is amazing. What are you working on at the moment?
Emilie: I’m working on developing a stained-glass technique whereby I don’t use tin. Normally, first, you cut the glass, then you put them together with the tin. I cut the metal structure, and after this, I put the glass inside the metal. I also use resin to make some stained-glass windows, so I work with traditional materials, but in a contemporary way.
Laura: Fascinating, and I think I saw your website. You've done some quite big public installations as well as working on interiors. Where can we go and see them?
Emilie: Of course, so it's in Clamart, in the city where I live. What I propose is that people come and experiment with the sculpture at different moments of the day and the sun goes through the stained-glass window and it always provokes something different. It's animated, and so for me, it's a way to give energy to this public space.
Laura: The light reflects off the glass, it’s a really interesting sensation. I know you're very interested in lighting as well. Do you want to just expand on that and tell us your thoughts on lighting, not only for interiors but also for sculptures that are placed outside?
Emilie: Yes, lighting is very important for me. I began producing light ten years ago and it's always my preferred material because it has something magical. It has something that gives us a feeling of the link between earth and nature. I like to work with natural light and also with electric lights.
Laura: It sounds like you've got a lot of different projects on at the moment. Is there a burning project that you would love to work on?
Emilie: I will show you what I'm working on at the moment. It is just a sample, but it shows you the metal structure and the resin I’m developing at the moment. I love it because you feel the energy when you see the colours coming to the place.
Laura: It’s so lovely to be able to work with tangible objects because everyone spent so much time online in the last year. Just seeing that, it's so exciting to have something that you can feel and touch. To do that practical thing again, not just look at your screen, which is wonderful.
Emilie: It's very important when you create to take your hand and just to try and make something with it. Even if you're not a big artist in this area, just try to confront yourself with the materiality.
Laura: Absolutely, to feel the quality of the material, look at how the colours compare to each other, which are different on a screen. You need the digital versions as well though, of course!
Emilie: It’s a great satisfaction to create with your hands.
Laura: Are the public allowed to touch the sculptures?
Emile: For the one in Clamart, it’s a no, because there is gold leaf on it. So, if you touch it, there is a risk that if you touch it too much, the gold goes away. But for others, I am thinking about it but they are two metres high, so you can't touch them. They begin at two metres.
Laura: Amazing, I bet you got like, do you get quite a lot of tourists, people specifically going just to see the sculpture there?
Emilie: I think tourists and can see them obviously if they walk through the place, but I don't organise a tourists’ tour for my sculpture, not yet.
Laura: I can see Emilie Lemardeley tours in the future. It’s wonderful to think that your sculptures are out there for anybody to see at any time. I just think that's exciting, and there's an element of arts and sculpture being outside that does make it more accessible in a way, you don't have to go through a door to get into a gallery or a hotel or into somebody's living room. It's just outside. So, in that sense, it's a little bit more accessible, do you think?
Emilie: I like that because I create things for everybody, not just for collectors in a gallery. Of course, I like to create for them and it's always very good because they give me the freedom to create what I want. So, an artist needs to be free. But in a public place, it’s very interesting too, because you have the reaction of just the person who walks into the place. Everybody has a different reaction to the installation.
Laura: Everyone has got different ways of interpreting your work, which is wonderful.
Laura: Absolutely. Have you thought about writing a book about your work and business?
Emilie: Not at all, I don’t know if I would be good with words if I will find the words. I think it’s not my path, my path is to celebrate colour, magic links with nature but not writing. I don't want to write something, I can write my feelings but I prefer to just give you the opportunity to feel it, I think it's deeper than words that classify and categorize. I prefer feelings.
Laura: I know what you mean. I can see that you are a true artist. I love that. Emilie, just to kind of finish off, what’s your website? What's your Instagram? How can we contact you?
Emilie: I have a website which is my name, lemardeley.com. And Instagram is the same, so it's really easy to send me a message, I will always answer.
Laura: Thank you for sharing your inside knowledge into the design business. I just think it's fantastic, the success that you've had so far and it sounds like you've got a lot further to go on new projects. It's really exciting. Thanks so much, Emilie Lemardeley for joining me today.
Emilie: Thank you very much, Laura. And I would be happy to see you again in London soon.