From the second you set foot onto Astier de Villatte’s dark wooden floors, you know this is no ordinary pottery shop. Aromas of jasmine and cedar drift lazily through the air, luring you toward their array of fresh-scented candles. Their signature bright white tableware strikes an ethereal contrast against the earthy atmosphere, and remnants of the past linger in darkened corners in this former eighteenth-century silversmith, once visited by Napoleon himself.
But most importantly, it takes a mere glance to recognize you’re in the presence of true craftsmanship. Some of their plates are reminiscent of seashells, some of the sun in a rather abstract, unidentifiable manner, and some are simply off-kilter, and more beautiful for it. The edges and surface designs are slightly accented with darker tones, thanks to their signature combination of white glaze on top of dark clay. The clay shows through in a subtle way that imparts the most wonderful texture.
Wander down the short hallway to a back room that feels like a secret hideaway. In here you'll find printed glass and ceramic serving dishes in more colorful hues. Common motifs include sea creatures, constellations, birds and other flora and fauna. Many of these designs have been created by artist John Derain.
Beyond tableware, their pottery collection includes feet and elephants, cats and flowers and tea sets with goddesses and gargoyles carved into handles.
Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte opened the shop in 2000, saving it from destruction. Their designs reflect the beauty of imperfection and the timelessness of true artistry. Mostly French and Tibetan artisans hand-make their pieces out of ceramic or hand-blown glass in France-based workshops, using techniques that are largely forgotten. So when you enter their central store on Rue Saint-Honoré, you know you’re picking up a piece of true French art, made with love and attention to detail that honors traditions of the past.
Their candles are lovely as well. They were born out of the idea of traveling in your own home, so each candle corresponds to a place, ranging from Cambridge to Jerusalem. They’re transportive and soothing, perfectly accompanying the elegance of their pottery.
“We are inspired by things forgotten,” Pericoli says. They bring life and inspiration to their pottery, and while they may be inspired by what others forget, we will certainly not forget them.
This wonderful video can tell you even more about about Astier de Villatte!
Astier de Villatte
173 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris
Metro Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (Lines 1 & 7)
(Image Credits: Hannah Wilson.)