WORKAHOLIC // CALLIDUS GUILD

Yolande Batteau is the founder and creative visionary behind the work of Callidus Guild. When meeting her in person you immediately realize, she herself, is just as enchanting as the wallpaper she creates. Her magical studio is tucked away in Brooklyn in the neighborhood of Clinton Hill. This fine art studio flourishes with their unique, hand-made wallpaper and is a charming space with a Japanese tree garden. The artists that make up Callidus Guild have worked on small powder room size spaces to large-scale commercial projects which include Louis Vuitton, and a 250 eleven foot paintings that became the walls of Chanel’s first fine jewelry stores world wide. Founder, Yolande is a true painter, obsessed with materials and detail. Her team designs and installs surfaces in plaster, precious metals and hand made paints. Traveling is her greatest inspiration. “I have little love affairs with a country or a period or a philosophy and spend literally hours, everyday, trying to learn more. How pigments are made, what is used to carve coral plaster, how is Meiji lacquer tooled, what are people thinking about space, experience? What really matters?.” Through tooling, embedding and manipulating classical materials they create variations of color, pattern and texture to suit the most discriminating aesthetics. The wallpaper is hand tinted using marble dust plaster, with varying degrees of polish and sheen. Each piece is commissioned and many of their finishes may be applied to paper or onto panels. We caught up with Yolande for this very special Workaholic.

Who are you and what do you do?
Yolande Milan Batteau. I am a painter, I founded and direct an applied arts studio called Callidus Guild that makes hand painted wallpaper and art for architecture.

Where is your workspace?
My studio is in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. It is an antique factory revitalized by a 1950’s minimalist sculptor. It was derelict when he bought it in the 1980’s. All of the buildings were rebuilt with architectural salvage from the factories that closed in Brooklyn. We have two buildings, separated by a Japanese medicinal tree garden. We have been here almost ten years. It’s one the most unusual studio spaces I have seen in New York City.

 

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What made you turn to this direction?
I was a painter obsessed with materials and methods. I saw a potential bridge between fine art, design and architecture, and decided to build it.

Was this always your dream job?
I never thought of what I do as a job. I am trying to live the most incredible life I can make. Life is partly what you do and also what happens to you. I love my job, LOVE. I feel so blessed to be able to make beauty every day and work in a gorgeous space, with talented, inspiring people. Walking to work is one of my great pleasures.

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How much of the week is work, how much is play?
You can make amazing work out of play! I mostly work. I should play more!

What has been the most exciting thing you have done with your work, and what is a dream situation you’d like to find yourself in?
The most exciting thing I have done with my work was making 250 eleven foot paintings that became the walls of Chanel’s first Fine Jewelry stores world wide. I discovered what it could be to produce miles of art and have it seen by everyone. I would love time to make installations of my work that required no commercial component from my studio, where I could just make art first, and it could be interpreted later, sold by others or not at all. Our work requires so much organizing, I dream of a huge white room inside which I could write a visual poem.

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How do you find your inspiration?  
I scour images of indigenous architecture, contemporary art, the surface of trees. Traveling is my greatest inspiration. I have little love affairs with a country or a period or a philosophy and spend literally hours, everyday, trying to learn more. How pigments are made, what is used to carve coral plaster, how is Meiji lacquer tooled, what are people thinking about space, experience? What really matters?

How do you define your personal style, work and clothing, etc.?      
I think of myself as a kind of sexy Auntie Mame.

What’s something someone may not know about you?
I sing when I am happy, or when my samples are coming out great.

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Anything else you would like to say or for us to know?
How grateful I feel towards all the designers with whom I have been able to collaborate, and all the patrons who keep these dying arts alive through their commissions. The decorative arts have long been looked down upon, but craft is having a renaissance as modern people begin to long for realness, quality, and more humane lives. Sometimes something beautiful can remind you to breathe and be here, if even for a moment, right now.

For more on Callidus Guild please visit – http://callidusguild.com

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