interiors+sources’ 2017 designer of the year, Elodie Blanchard, has had a love of creating designs and bringing them to life since she was a teenager in France. Her love for making has delivered a number of notable projects and collaborations, most recently her specialized collections for HBF Textiles, in addition to launching Elodie Blanchard Studio, just a bike ride away from her Brooklyn home.
However her plan wasn’t always to create goods for interiors. “I have always loved making things,” Blanchard told i+s. “As a teenager, I used to organize fashion shows and then sell the clothes. I loved the whole production: designing, sewing, picking the music, the decoration of the space, the choreography, the selling. I really wanted to be a fashion designer.”
With that, Blanchard moved from Grenoble, France, to Paris to enroll in the fashion program at the Ecole des Arts appliqués Duperré. In addition to fashion, she had an interest in art history and a desire to network with people working in different forms of media. “So I applied for the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts de Paris in the sculpture department. It was an amazing place, in the center of Paris, with beautiful architecture. I worked in a spacious shared sculpture studio and we had so much freedom. There, I always worked with fabric and met my mentor Martha, a costume designer who taught me how to make patterns, and I started my own fashion line.”
Blanchard did, in fact, find success in clothing design, which helped guide her on a path of varied opportunities. Her fashion collection won the public prize at the Festival of Hyeres and sold in La Redoute, “the French Target,” she noted. “It gave me a lot of opportunities and I started working freelance for different fashion brands. With a grant to study at Cal Arts, I moved to Los Angeles. I was [becoming] more interested in performance art. With opera singer and musicologist Nina Eidsheim I created the project ‘Noisy Clothes.’ The costumes themselves were designed to contain different ‘soundmakers,’ with playing an instrument redefined as ‘moving in what you are wearing.’”
While working on Noisy Clothes, an unexpected connection presented a twist of fate that changed Blanchard’s plans: she met Jonathan, her now-husband, who
was moving to New York City. “I followed him there,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘What are the odds of finding a nice guy? You can always find a good job.’ I am still with Jonathan so it was a good choice but the transition was not that smooth.”
Upon relocating to New York in 2001, Blanchard continued working on her art and took on a variety jobs to keep busy. During that time, she attended the International
Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) where she would buy accessories for Jonathan’s parents who own a kitchen design showroom in Southern California. At the show, she took in the work of other designers and it inspired her to move in the direction of product design. “I thought [this kind of] design was slower than fashion and still creative, so maybe this is what I should do.” She contacted some of the companies she saw at the show and began as an intern, making prototypes
or the likes of David Weeks, Stephen Burks, and Lindsey Adelman.