Atelier Arizona is founded on a passion for master connoisseurship and the vision to refine and redefine the meaning of a masterpiece in design. It is a story of obsession, in pursuit of the absolute. Beyond luxury, beyond style.
We believe in substance. We see no point in doing something if it has been done before. And we have no problem crossing boundaries, pushing the limits and breaking all the rules to make it a reality.
To unlock the character of the raw material, the memory of matter, the higher truth of plain form - in the smoothest curve, the finest edge, the perfect balance. Form suspended in space and time. Form that flows through space as one does through time. The timeless moment, momentum, monument.
We believe a good design speaks for itself. And a really good design speaks to the soul. It is no longer an object but an event. An extension of the self. It is the physical on the verge of the metaphysical.
This is the first time these production methods and materials are brought together and the first time they are brought into the world of design. It is a vision of design across disciplines. Design undisciplined.
Installation view. Untitled (House of the Rising Sun). Mixed media, dimensions variable. 30-second reel. N.B. Surface sealed with a dozen coats of special finish used in racing motorcycles of the 1970s which changes tone according to the light.
A COLLECTOR'S EDITION
As a special commission in collaboration with Thomas Erber for the reopening of the Hôtel de Crillon, the atelier presents a contemporary vision of the classic gentleman’s valet. The piece is showcased in the concept store of the bijoux boutique of the hotel. The limited edition of 20 pieces corresponds to the number of columns on the iconic façade of the hotel at 10 Place de la Concorde.
Every detail pays hommage to the legacy of the location since its inception in 1758 - from the oak-tanned full-grain leather gilt by hand of a museum-grade restorer of the manuscripts of Louis XV, to the Fuki Urushi lacquer in reference to the Japonisme of the collection of the duc d'Aumont, and the bronze Murano mirror in reflection of the famous bar of Sonia Rykiel. The entire piece is triple-plated in 24-karat gold.
The centre-piece is an exotic wood exclusive to the atelier that is the stuff of legend - a 16th-century mahogany known simply as 'the tree' as it has only ever been found in a single tree in the heart of the jungle. It is naturally hologramatic with a unique figure known as 'tortoise-shell' that evokes the 18th-century tradition of Boulle.
This is paired with a master-grade flamed maple of the same reserve as the later instruments of Stradivari. This degree of figure is found in less than one tree in ten thousand. The maple is finished in a French polish and charred in the ancient Japanese technique of Shou-Sugi Ban to achieve the fade-to-black effect of vintage rock-star guitars – a considerable few of which have graced the halls of the hotel.
The piece draws on the tradition of Parisian classics like those of Dupré-Lafon and Jacques Adnet for Hermès in the mid-century. Our philosophy is that – in the words of Ruhlmann, their predecessor – to create something that lasts, the first thing is to want to create something that lasts forever.
CRAFTSMANSHIP & PROVENANCE
Each piece is drafted and crafted by hand out of natural raw materials, in the artisan philosophy of the old school. No screws, no super-glues. Just pencil and paper, chisel and stone, bronze casting and traditional Japanese joinery.
Every part of the production process is carried out in person from start to finish - from splicing each slab of stone at the quarry to sourcing the rarest woods in remote locations and forging our own hand-tools in-house.
Our bronze is cast in a bell-foundry that has tuned bells for some of the oldest monasteries in history, from Athos to Ethiopia - each curve is tapped and tuned by ear as a measure of proportion. We use a custom alloy exclusive to the atelier. The brass is cast in a foundry for propellers which has not changed much since its establishment in the 1930s - every contour is calibrated along each chord-line for pitch balance conditioning by the naked eye.
Our crystal is poured and cut by hand on a pool of molten pewter by the oldest mirror-maker on Murano and gilded with a custom patina developed exclusively for the atelier. Previous clientele includes the Galerie des Glaces of Versailles and the Villa Fontanelle restored by Gianni Versace on Lago di Como. The leather detailing is done by an old book-binder's in Mayfair who have restored some of the most important academic manuscripts in history. The upholstery is hand-stitched by the number-one tappezeria in Modena for exhibition-grade post-war Ferrari restorations, a sixth-generation family affair with a background in saddlery.
God is in the details, in the words of Mies, and our detailing has come to combine a range of elements each time to get it just right - from meteorite, a guru rock from Bhutan or a block of lava from Zabriskie Point to a piece of Eskimo Shaman ancient walrus tusk passed down through a friend from a 19th-century explorer.
Varnishes are mixed in-house using the mineral grounds, resins and arcane recipes of lutherie from 17th-century Cremona, with the exception of the Urushi lacquer which is applied by a centuries-old master workshop in Ishikawa. Accordingly the atelier has come to develop an oeuvre of historical cross-over techniques to create an unprecedented visual discourse - such as applying the ancient Japanese method of Yaki-Sugi for charring wood to attain the fade-to-black effect of 1970s electric rock guitars known as the Sun-Burst.
The stakes are high when each piece of wood is sometimes the only one of its type in the world. The woods are exclusively from the private reserve of the atelier - at this grade they are not available on the general market. This is stock that messieurs Boulle or Stadivari would have given everything to get their hands on - with the exception of a few cases in which it is the same stock they used themselves on work that is now historic. We stop at nothing to get our hands on the finest, rarest pieces that exist - be it by helicopter out into the wilderness of British Columbia or trekking through the jungle of northern Cambodia.
Examples include 18th-century original Gaboon ebony in full log dims of up to 2 metres; 17th-century master-grade Bosnian flamed maple, aka 'moon-wood' felled traditionally under a full moon in the fall and slab-cut; 16th-century Honduran mahogany with a unique tortoise-shell figure known simply as 'the tree' - as it has only ever been found in that one tree; and a 3000-year-old spruce that is ice-blue, immersed in the minerals of a glacier in Alaska under which it lay buried across millenia. Each piece is sourced in the original massif, no veneers. There is nothing like the intensity of a full slab as such aged for centuries like a good malt.
Get the full story here.
The atelier has locations in Paris and Los Angeles and exclusive collaborations with a network of old master workshops managing projects internationally.
Work ranges across the disciplines of sculpture, architecture and design in the philosophy that they are all in the purest form the same thing. Projects range from some sculpture for a collection of antiquities in the country to a large-scale site-specific installation for an 11th-century chateau.
Each piece is unique and only a few are produced each year. A single piece can take more than a thousand hours to complete. In parallel to the in-house collection, the atelier takes on select commissions and collaborations on a project-basis. The atelier works in private with museum-calibre collections of art and design at the highest level and the lowest profile.
Atelier Arizona is Iannis aka Arizona (Creative Director) and Nicky (Studio Director). He was raised with an architectural background in Sweden, Switzerland, Greece and California then read Classics at Oxford, turned down the Courtauld and walked out of St. Martin's to be self-trained in design. She is a trained classical pianist with a background in theatre and museology. They share an old-fashioned passion for the arts. Arizona is contributing editor to Arena Homme Plus.
Arizona is a nickname since forever after a Swiss grandfather who spent the better part of the 1970s driving a Volkswagen beetle across the boundless desert. It stuck and is now synonymous with a boundless vision of design across disciplines. Arizona is a state of mind.
Dossier available upon request, private viewing by appointment.
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