Welcome to the 85th issue of B.

Racing toward the deadline for this issue, I took an Instagram break to let off some steam and found a post that I had uploaded four years ago. It said: “Everything feels uncertain and muddied, and we’re living in a time when predicting the future is futile. Housing prices and self-driving cars will not bring us salvation, but beauty—only beauty—can deliver us from this state of uncertainty.” From where I stand now, I half agree and half disagree with this sentiment. This year has sent the world into a swamp of uncertainty, and interest in real estate and stocks has grown more than ever. Big data, cost-effectiveness, and disposability now are key factors influencing consumption trends. Of course, the value of beauty is relative and ever-changing, so we can say that each of us finds and enjoys beauty that suits the times.

This issue is about Astier de Villatte, a French ceramics brand that values the essence of beauty and focuses on making beautiful products at all costs. Simply put, this brand is faithful to the idea that beauty itself can be utility. In regard to the brand’s aesthetics, people who love Astier de Villatte products say, “It’s satisfying to leave an Astier de Villatte item somewhere and just look at it,” and “It’s a beauty that feels like meditation.” What’s interesting is that the beauty they seek comes from imperfection. Astier de Villatte items are all handmade by craftspeople using techniques from the Middle Ages, so the surfaces feature curves instead of being smooth edges. The brand’s ceramics look thinner, lighter in weight, and somewhat weaker than ordinary porcelain. The brand’s signature white color of the ceramics is not consistent either, and the spots of earthen color that show through create an appearance of a delicate piece used by someone long ago.

The brand’s founders both come from artistic families, and they say that they never intended to pursue perfection from the very beginning. They wanted to allow imperfections and variability to capture unintended beauty in their products. This philosophy is supported by the fact that they do not hire highskilled ceramicists in their workshops. Ironically, that’s why Astier de Villatte products remained so vibrant and many people were enchanted by the brand since its establishment in 1996.

Amid all the products that show off their “coolness,” the rather understated Astier de Villatte product ironically stands out. Instead of luring in consumers with a lot of fanfare, The brand’s items are designed to forge an emotional bond between the user and the product. Similar is how Astier chooses locations and decorates their shops. The Astier de Villatte shop in Saint-Honoré, Paris looks like an attic or a study of a manic collector, who collects miscellaneous objects that are strewn about here and there. Storage boxes with jewelry-shaped decorations, candle lids featuring Snoopy, and scented erasers all harmonize because they are created and displayed such that beautiful things naturally attract other beautiful things.

“The most personal is the most creative,” said Joonho Bong, quoting Martin Scorsese when he won the Oscar for Best Director. I think beauty follows the same logic in that the most personal is the most beautiful. You don’t need a cohesive style or help from an algorithm. Whether it’s harmonious or discordant, beauty becomes complete inside each individual person’s world.

Cho phép đặt hàng trước