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Elisabeth Védrenne, 
journalist and "amante"

Elisabeth has two loves… contemporary art and design!  ...
by Véronique Dupard-Mandel

published on May 23, 2022
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©esthete place

Elisabeth has two loves… contemporary art and design!


In fact it has three: Italy. Four: Paris, and even five with Brazil...

Elisabeth, you understood, is a lover, even more, a "lover"!

She was born in Rome, grew up in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), married in France, studied in Spain and Paris (Nanterre) and returned to Italy, then to Paris…


This is perhaps the key to his insatiable curiosity.

Interview with Elizabeth:


Italy and Brazil built my culture, my childhood and then my adolescence. Landscapes, music, color.

When I arrived in France, Paris was pitch black. I came from Rio de Janeiro, what a shock!


Art or Design, why choose?


I was first an art journalist (passionate about the contemporary) and random encounters and a favorable period, the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s, I deviated towards design.


I'm not an art historian, I did everything on my own, I had curiosities… At the time, you didn't need to be stuffed with diplomas, you just had to prove that you could do it.


We moved all the time, we went to see people where they worked, where they produced where they exhibited.


In the mid-1970s and early 1980s, there was a very strong freedom of expression in Italy.

The shock wave of a current that took shape in the 1970s with Arte Povera, Mario Merz, Kounellis, Mario Ceroli... and which was propelled by intellectuals, theoreticians, architects like  Gaetano Pesce, and designers like Alessandro Mendini or Ettore Sottsass (who launched Memphis), Michele De Lucchi, Pucci de Rossi, Enzo Mari, Andrea Branzi. They are the ones who launched these bridges between art and design.


Mixing of cultures, forms, materials


This generation was for the mixing of disciplines, which did not yet exist in France.

There was a crazy creativity, which we find even in fashion, in the street. Fiorucci uses ethnic, African and Hindu motifs, and associates them with "flashy" colors, the same as those used in Mexico by the architect Luis Barragán on the walls of his haciendas... The artists of Arte Povera exhibit their works at the middle of the frescoes of the Baroque palaces.


I went to the furniture fair in Milan every year and there a lot of things happened.



So I logically started talking about Italian design.  When I arrived in France I found, compared to Italy in the 1970s, a conservative France, not modern, not very inventive, addressing only a very small elite, in short, a very conformist France. . Of course, there was Pompidou and Paulin at the Elysée, and the CCI (Centre de Création Industriel) at the Center Pompidou, which only dealt with design. It was a start.

But when in 1985, Yves Gastou chose Ettore Sottsass to do the facade of his Galerie rue des Beaux-Arts, it caused such a scandal that he had to rely on Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture, to obtain permission! It is a good example to illustrate the compartmentalization of the art market and the specialties in which other dealers were confined at the time.


A few young French designers (Olivier Gagnère, Martine Bedin, Nathalie du Pasquier, etc.) went to work with these architects and designers in Milan.

And then there was this very French period of the 80s!


With En Attendant les Barbares, Garouste and Bonetti, then Philippe Stark at the head of the bow. A moment full of fantasy, new shapes and materials. And then a certain savagery, metal and pointed glass, “The scrap metal workers” André Dubreuil in France, Tom Dixon and Ron Arad in London.


All this new and incredible creativity was found among the artists, the graphic designers, Loulou Picasso, Bazooka, Robert Combas, Di Rosa, and all the free figuration, … very inventive and very colorful people.

It was sudden and this momentum, this creative tidal wave, has never been reproduced since.



Back to the "vintage" 90s, Le Corbusier, Perriand, Prouvé...


And then everything calmed down, back to vintage, to safe values, embodied by wood and Savoy! I went to see Charlotte Perriand, at first I found it rustic, (laughs)  why not.



Today there is a lot of irony in contemporary art and I see interesting things again.


What I like is to discover, even before being a ferryman and writing, but now people don't read anymore. They look at the pictures. It only interests people who are already interested.


I am more confident today in the world of contemporary art, even with its excesses, than in the world of design. It flounders. They have to solve the complex problem of ecology and it is not easy. Industrial design is less and less inventive. Even among the adults, it seems that there is no more utopia, everything becomes very discreet, refined, elegant.  


But too bad, each time I go out hunting, to conquer something, someone.

I like social networks. When people talk about social networks I have the impression that we are not talking about the same thing. Mine are always benevolent.

In preparation for :

“Les Nouveaux Sauvages, creators of the 80s”, working title. Ed.Norma. Released in November 2022.

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THE CHOICE of Elisabeth Védrenne for ESTHETE PLACE

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Pucci de Rossi
KRZ Stool
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Ettore Sottsass
Vase "Sybilla" - 1994
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Ettore Sottsass
Théière Lapislazzuli

PUBLICATIONS by Elisabeth Védrenne:


- Secret Residences of Venice, Albin Michel, 1990. And Living in Venice, Thames & Hudson, 1990. In English.

- Le Corbusier, ed. Assouline, coll. Memoirs of style 1999.

- Jasper Morrison in Vallauris, Grégoire Gardette ed. 2000.

- The factory of Italian design, the Kartell Donation, ed. From the Center Pompidou

- Elizabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti, eds. The stolen letter, Belgium. 2001.

- Paulin, with Anne-Marie Fèvre, ed. Say See, 2001.

- Laura de Santillana, ed. The Arc-en-Seine, 2002.

- Pierre Paulin, ed. Assouline, coll. Memoirs of Style. 2004.

- Charlotte Perriand, ed. Assouline, coll. Memoirs of style. 2005.

- Pierre Charpin, New forms for Sèvres, Bernard Chauveau editor, 2008.

- Philippe Anthonioz, sculpture of use, use of sculpture, ed. Gourcuff Gradenigo and La Piscine-Roubaix.. 2011.

- Kristin Mc Kirdy, monograph, with Patrick Favardin, ed. Normal, 2013.

-Ursula Morley-Price, ceramics. Catalog. Ed. Galerie de l'Ancienne Poste. 2013.

- The Pioneers, in the workshops of women artists of the 20th century: Geneviève Asse, Geneviève Claisse, Marta Pan, Pierrette Bloch, Parvine Curie, Shirley Jaffe, Vera Molnar, Judith Reigl, Aurélie Nemours, Etel Adnan, Sheila Hicks. Photos by Catherine Panchout, Somogy Editions, 2018.

- Jean-François Lacalmontie, monograph. Exit for the monographic exhibition at MATMUT in January 2018.

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