In Brief

Artist James Balmforth on his Celine collaboration

Celine Art Projects taps London sculptor for Madison Avenue store

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French photographer and fashion designer Hedi Slimane has reconfigured luxury goods brand Celine since his appointment as the Parisian brand's artistic director in January 2018. Slimane's approach is being extended to Celine's global boutiques, which are being refitted to the designer's specifications.

A clean, brutalist style in tones of whites, blacks, greys and browns focuses on raw materials including gleaming metal, mirrors, pale travertine stone and black marble. Slimane's own angular furniture designs sit next to site-specific artworks, commissioned or purchased from contemporary artists as part of the ambitious Celine Art Project.

The collection includes works by American sculptor Virginia Overton – noted for her use of organic ready made structures – and Brooklyn-based creative Eli Ping whose steel sculpture Post, a collection of minimalist steel beams, was purchased for Celine's London Bond Street store.

"It started out as pure experimentation," says James Balmforth of his 2019 work Surface Response (Stack), produced specifically for Celine's storefront on Madison Avenue, New York. At his London studio, the former student of Chelsea College of Art & Design uses industrial techniques and machinery.

To finish his Celine commission, Balmforth employed a thermic lance. "Originally intended as a demolition tool, [it] creates a by-product called slag", he explains. "Slag is the residue left behind after much of the iron in the steel has been vaporised in the intense reaction.

"It is formed of trace elements and impurities that were within the steel. In industry, this is considered an inconvenient waste product with no use value, but I wanted to use the thermic lance to harness this residue, allowing it to build on the surface". 

The result is a highly texturised (almost toasted) brutalist column of steel cubes.

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