A Moment With | Elise Pioch Balzac
For French designer Elise Pioch Balzac, design is inextricably linked to her cultural identity. She designs products such as her signature candles, luxurious throws and most recently delicate glassware for her homewares brand Maison Balzac, honing in on her nostalgic memories of France. Elise treats design like a direct passage into her memories, where we can catch glimpses of the beautiful world she lives in.
Hi Elise, your heritage plays a large role in your work and is a constant inspiration - why is it so important to you? I feel so proud of my ancestors and wish to translate their taste and 'art de vivre' (way of living) through every product and category within Maison Balzac. By giving their name to my range (Balzac) I knew I would have them as guides and that I could never sign off on anything that wasn't good enough.
What inspires you the most? My own memories. They are endless and always make me feel so happy. I was lucky to have a childhood bombarded with love, nature, adventures, fragrances, simple pleasures and elegance.
Where do you get your design fix? I am addicted to interior magazines! My iPad is solely dedicated to downloading my favorites titles from around the world and I religiously look at every page, every month. I screengrab the details that I find inspiring but never look at them again! I guess these ideas travel in my mind and become something different, personal.
What is your most treasured item? I have two: a gold necklace with a real tiger's nail that my Balzac grand father gave to my grand mother when they lived in Morocco. It gives me so much strength and courage. The second is a Birkin bag that was made for me by the Hermes atelier when I turned 30. I ordered it when I was working there and by the time it was finished I had moved to Australia. The leather is engraved with my initials and reminds me of my life in Paris.
Do you have a creative process which you follow? None! Everything we do is extremely spontaneous and genuine. It doesn't mean that everything happens very quickly but the decision process is certainly extremely fast.
Where is your favourite destination in Sydney? It changes every two days, but at the moment it's a french bakery called Label Baguette on 928 Anzac Parade, Randwick, they have the most delicious home made waffles and baguettes.
What do you love doing most in your spare time? We head to our church house on the Hawkesbury River or to our tiny Halverson boat in Palm Beach at least every Sunday and Monday and what I love the most about both places is how they offer full exposure to nature; the ocean, the bush, the weather, sunsets, sunrise, insects and animals.
What is your proudest achievement? To have given life. It was the thing I was the most scared of so it needed a great deal of courage. So much that I wore the tigers nail necklace that day!
Tell me, what's in store for Maison Balzac in 2017? We are planning to turn each fragrance of our candle collection into Eau De Parfum...