MADE IN QUEBEC
Decorating your home with local arts
For the past two years, local artisans have been able to showcase their creativity at La Grande Fabrique. Touted as the largest outdoor gathering of creators from Quebec, this summer’s event — held in collaboration with Etsy Montreal on Ste-Catherine St. E. — welcomed over 180 craftspeople and designers. It provided an opportunity for artists from across the province to share their work — and vision — with Montrealers on a mission; a decorating mission, that is.
I had the opportunity to talk with three of the show’s exhibitors — Ishita Banerjee of Soul Curry Art & Illustrations, Stéphanie GoyerMorin of Goye artiste céramiste, and Caroline Busque of Atelier East End Mtl, which specializes in minimalist, mid-century modern wood furniture — about what it’s like to be an artisan in the age of social media and how their craft is an integral part of interior design. Here’s what they had to say:
How did you get started as an artist/artisan?
Banerjee: I started in college, did my bachelor’s in fine arts, and then specialized in graphic design and animation. I also studied as an illustrator and did children’s books and comic strips for a while. I studied in India. When I moved to Canada in 2010, I was working full-time but there was always this need to come back home and get my pen on paper. I started by decorating my house with my own illustrations. People would come over and say: “Oh, I want to buy that.” In 2016, I launched my online shop.
Goyer-Morin: I did a bachelor’s in visual arts and discovered ceramics, and that I had a natural ability for working with clay. At the time, one of my teachers suggested that I specialize in ceramics, which I did at the Centre de céramique Bonsecours. I started my business 3½ years ago.
Busque: There are two of us, Martin Pelletier and me. I studied environmental design and architecture at the Université du Québec à Montréal and Martin studied at l’École québécoise du meuble et du bois ouvré. He built furniture as a hobby and I was always interested in design and that’s how we started, a year and a half ago.
How would you describe your style?
Banerjee: Mad Men modern; I draw inspiration from midcentury modern style. I love the 1950s and ’60s but I grew up in the ’70s — the time of psychedelic colours — in India, which is the land of colour, so there are a lot of bold colours in my work. I also like the Nordic folk style.
I do a lot of abstract work as well, which I think is good for people who don’t want to commit to anything too personal. It’s also a great conversation starter.
Goyer-Morin: I describe my style as delicate and feminine with a bit of a weird, or unexpected, twist. I’m inspired by my childhood a lot, especially Alice in Wonderland and the Beauty and the Beast. There’s a lot of movement in my pieces, and lace inspires me a lot as well.
Busque: Our style is very minimalist and we use a lot of raw, solid wood. We started using steel to make our hairpin legs, and now that mix of materials has become our signature style.
We have a Scandinavian, midcentury modern look, but our intention was always to put out different collections and adapt to different trends.
We’re getting ready to start a new collection; it’s going to be very different, but wood will always be an important part of our look.
How can your art be used to decorate a new home or condo?
Banerjee: It adds colour, drama and dimension — a whole different layer to a space. It’s great for accent walls, too. It both completes and grounds a space, like a rug does. It’s a great way of showcasing your travels and the kind of style that you’re attracted to; it’s an eclectic way of showing who you are.
These days, most people don’t even use frames, they just prop a piece of art on furniture, like a chair, or up against a wall. It’s very versatile. Goyer-Morin: There are more and more kitchens with open cabinets these days and that’s one way to display ceramics. People also use tableware for their plants, which is very original.
I like to mix and match my tableware; I think it’s more visually interesting. It’s as if the pieces just
got up in the middle of the night and had their own party on the table.
Busque: The esthetic and quality of our work is very important, but the functionality of our pieces is what matters most; in the end, form follows function. And the fact that they remain durable.
These days, with the small size of condos, something like our folding table is a great option for people; it’s why we make a lot of custommade furniture as well.
Do you think it’s getting easier for local creators these days, thanks to social media and events like La Grande Fabrique, or more difficult?
Banerjee: I think it’s easier because social media puts you out there for audiences that never knew you existed. It gives you a wider reach.
Goyer-Morin: I like the online element, but I like being able to see people face-to-face as well. It’s important for me to get out and see people because I spend my days alone in the studio doing what I think people will like, but it’s good to get their feedback.
Busque: Social media and online boutiques helped us get started, and I imagine it would have been more difficult to attract people to an actual physical location. The fact that we sell in Canada and the United States helps a lot, too.
Stéphanie Goyer-Morin’s ceramics were on exhibit at this year’s La Grande Fabrique, held in collaboration with Etsy Montreal. Her delicate and feminine tableware often features an unexpected twist like the handles on the teacups shown here. People, in turn, sometimes make unexpected use of her tableware opting to plant something in a cup or a bowl rather than in a designated planter, like the one on the wall below.
Ishita Banerjee, of Soul Curry Art & Illustrations, whose art prints were on exhibit at this year’s La Grande Fabrique, describes her style as Mad Men modern.
A turntable-and-vinyl console from Atelier East End Mtl is a stylish, minimalist piece of furniture well suited to a small condo.
The Ania Bench (above) is made of reclaimed barnwood and features geometrically shaped steel legs.