Paper. A natural product, so simple, yet capable of creating truly immense beauty. Clos19 talks to Marianne Guely, the famed Parisian paper artist, who has created show stopping installations in the finest hotels and for private events worldwide. Her finely crafted installations, which have transformed fine staircases, shopfronts and more the world over, have been described as ‘poetry in paper’ for their stunning, elegant precision. We discuss the inspiration, execution and creativity involved in every single project and look forward to her next adventure with Clos19…
Marianne, you are used to creating concepts and organising special events that are all very different. How do you ensure that each one has the Marianne Guely signature?
Each event is a unique experience. I love to hear what my clients want and turn their dreams into reality. With my team, we always try to produce décor which is timeless and unique. The work we do is tailor-made; that’s the signature of the Studio.
Can you tell us a little about how you work the personality your clients into a project?
Working on an order is always a passionate exchange with our clients. It begins with listening to what they want so we can quickly prepare a design or a rough model to discuss. It ends with the transformation of their dreams into a stunning paper reality.
The beauty of your work is that it is so intricate and complex in design. Do you have a secret that makes it easier than it looks?
Our creations are always unique and complex. The papers are cut using various techniques at first, then are folded as required before finally being assembled and glued. This is our true expertise; a team of craftsmen and women together with our artists, transform many different materials into delicate, elegant and poetic objects.
Is there one, key element you look for in a location or a project that will inspire you?
I am lucky to always be inspired by the people I meet and the places I discover. I have always found an idea almost immediately.
What is it about paper that draws you to it as a medium for your art?
Paper is a material which can be shaped quickly. It is light, easy to work with and always reflects light well. I also love paper as it is a natural material and wonderfully tactile. I am definitely a paper addict!
Which artists have inspired you and why?
Above all, my favourite is Matisse; I love his apparent simplicity and his colours and shapes. Other favourites include Macintosh, William Morris and all the Viennese artists - Joseph Hoffman, Koloman Moser, Gustav Klimt and the illustrator ERTÉ. His strokes are so defined and sure. I also love discovering architecture by Shinkel , Tadao Ando and SANAA. All these artists and architects are a source of energy for me.
Can you tell us about a favourite project you’ve worked on and what you loved about it?
The Christian Dior project for J’adore in Paris and Beijing has wonderful memories for me. I loved the spray of golden petals in Japanese paper. It was like golden rain! This was a light and airy project and I will never forget it. We still have all the prototype models in our Studio at 46 rue de Provence, some of which were made with real gold leaf.
When hosting your own events with your circle of friends and family, do you have a special ingredient that never fails to impress?
When there is a mix of elements, put together like a collage. Paper place mats and Baccarat Harcourt glasses together with earthenware or porcelain plates and cups, for example. An Indian or Basque tablecloth, Ribauville serviettes and always earthenware candlesticks with coloured candles of course...
The subtlety and complexity of your art reminds of us of a fine wine or spirit. Which Clos19 drink is it most like?
Blanc de Blanc champagne: it is refined, elegant and every ‘cru’ is unique.
What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to hosting or being hosted?
A glass of Ruinart champagne, two fingers of Japanese or Scotch whisky and of course a ‘vieille prune de Souillac’.
Where can we currently see some of your incredible designs?
You can see our work most often in jewellery boutiques, but also at famous patisseries and in the grand hotels. In London currently, our peony triptychs and diptychs and a chandelier can be seen in Anne-Sophie Pic’s restaurant located in the new Four Seasons Hotel. We mustn’t forget private parties too, of course. The details for these however, must remain secret.
We are incredibly excited to be working with you on our ‘Become the Host’ Winter Holidays and now Spring/Summer projects. Are there any secrets you can tell us about what lies in store for those?
We can’t wait to start working with Clos19. I really love the concept of bringing all these historic and prestigious brands together. Clos19 represents expertise, elegance and the French art of hospitality. We will be aiming to reflect all these things in our creations.
Can you give us some tips on how to make paper decorations at home without them looking like a small child's cut-out?
The best way is to start with paper decoration is to learn some simple origami shapes. You can work with paper with different colours and patterns. You can give your guests your creations as souvenirs.