The finished wall sculpture surrounded by handcrafted ceramic furniture and artifacts including a cobalt room divider, an oval stoneware and enameled bronze table, and Lane’s gold Scholars Rock lamps.
Photo: Jeff Klapperich
âI was painting. I was not very good, sort of self-taught. Pierre Lane tells about his artistic life before ceramics. âThen I went with some friends to take a pottery class, a bit on a lark with a sense of irony: Oh, who’s taking pottery lessons? Cocksucker. And it was love at first sight. I went to a pottery class and never left. That was in 1994, and since then Lane has built his reputation by making monumental ceramic installations. Interior decorator Guillaume Georgis commissioned the first large piece in 2006, and Lane went on to produce work for six of the Chanel stores designed by Pierre Marin. In 2012, Chahan Minassian entrusted him with the realization of the walls for the renovation of the billiard room of the HÃ´tel de Crillon in Paris.
Over the past few weeks, Lane and his team have created a new piece of work for the immersive installation – at 32 feet wide and 10 feet high – which he will exhibit at the Art and design fair to Park Avenue Armory, from November 11 to 15. Looking at the images of the process reminded me of a quote from Gabriele D’Annunzio: âAll enchantment is art-induced madness.
I spoke to Lane while he and his team were working there from his 10,000 square foot studio in Bushwick.
So what will the completed installation involve?
There will be semi-transparent ceramic screens, a daybed and a coffee table to make it a fully decorated room.
How did you get the idea?
Well, I’ve been doing these walls for a long time, so when the Salon approached me to do this, it was an opportunity for me to exhibit what I’m doing. Obviously it’s easier if I show a few samples, but the only way to communicate the scale and magnitude of what we’re doing is to show the entire room at its full scale, because we do installations of this nature. . Our typical work is of this quality and scope. It’s by far not the biggest we’ve ever done.
Is this the biggest wall you’ve made?
No. The HÃ´tel de Crillon is about twice the size. We have done many different projects around the world in homes, and some of them are quite ambitious. But when I was approached by the Salon, I really thought that I wanted to show the extent and the quality of what I do, and also the extent of my practice, which is not limited to ceramic walls. . I also do decorative items, tables and lamps – although my work is mainly focused on these walls, there is a demand for these other decorative items, and I really enjoy making them. I therefore also present tables, lamps and light sculptures from my product line.
Most people think ceramic is smaller. What made you fat?
As soon as I had the opportunity to work on a larger scale, it made so much sense. I made a small one in my studio, 30 by 40 inches, which I thought was huge at the time. And then when I figured out how to do it, I realized I could cover the whole house. I could do a facade, I could do a retaining wall near a swimming pool – that naturally widened the possibility of what I could do. The first piece on an architectural scale was a commission I made for Bill Georgis, then I started working with Chahan in Paris, and he came into my studio and had an immediate vision: “Can you do that, so big?
What is the process of creating the walls with your team?
It’s the same team that has been doing this together for years, so everyone knows what they’re doing and it’s really performative – almost like an event, because it’s clay and it’s a timing matter, and we have a process that we are working on. So we have the size of the room, and we anchor a steel frame to the ground, and we have the clay prepared and then once you start you can’t stop. Eight of us will be working on it together, and it’s this wonderful cooperative physical exercise, and we have to start at one end and continue to the other end. There are different styles for these walls so they all have their own process. It really is that fun, fun thing to do.
It’s done in pieces, I guess.
First, we lay the clay, and then we establish the dimensions of the individual modules, or tiles, if you will – they weigh 150 pounds each. We have a special laser tool to cut them. Then we drill holes in it while it is still wet, so that these become the screw holes, so that the whole thing mounts to the wall with screws directly to the face. But all of this texture just masks the fact that there are screw holes.
You need a large oven to cook them.
I have the biggest gas ovens in New York, so they stack up a lot like books. Our delivery time is approximately 16 weeks.
Tell me about the color of the glaze.
It’s kind of black and bronze, how it looks finished. And I do work in a lot of different colors; I have a jade color that I love to do, and I have a creamy white. I have a range of six or seven colors that I love, but this is one of my favorites. Another project we did for a client looked like a lava field; it looked like a natural geological process. Some of the things I do are more floral or decorative. But I thought it was going to be all black – I have a black carpet, a black ceiling. It’s going to be super dramatic and have all the richness of these different textures.
Do you have reference collaborators for this particular project?
The two Chapter & Verse, a fantastic carpentry shop, and Design and manufacture of faces, a metallurgy workshop with which I worked, are really essential. I bring them over there to make it more of an interior.
Like a real room, not a boutique?
Yes, a fully composed interior. The way for me to do it was not just to have my job, but to have the work of these other colleagues. Chapter and Verse made these truly spectacular ripped cardboard low cabinets and upward lights by my colleague Shizue Imai. Neal thomas, who is an interior designer that I have worked with a lot, has succeeded with this wall covering and this custom daybed. It was Neal’s idea to hang things on the wall himself. Stephen antonson has a series on which he works of these boxes that he finds in the street, then he unfolds them and coats them. I was thinking, Why not leaf them silver and glue them and make them like works of art? I consider them to be tapestries, where you can use it decoratively as an art object but you can also hang another painting on top of it. Hae Won Sohn is an artist that I really like, and she creates these works of art in pleated aluminum object panels that will be hung on the wall to give the impression that they are decorative objects and sculpture.