Emmanuelle Roule

Creation studio - Marseille

Between a plastic approach and a political dimension, Emmanuelle Roule’s work is developed around and from clay. With its age-old history through its use in housing and ceramics, this material also has multiple unexploited properties. This premise of Emmanuelle Roule’s marks out the whole of her production, which is tinged with experimentation and multidisciplinary cross-fertilization.

The research of Emmanuelle Roule, artist designer, focuses on the potential of earth as a material able to create and construct. A sharp selection of the material among the large diversity of different colors and properties, is the starting point of her creations. Shaping, glazing variations, firing at various temperatures, trying unexpected associations with beeswax for example, give rhythm to her work.

This visual and formal experimentation echoes the political approach of Emmanuelle Roule. Her production generates a response to environmental challenges by linking resources, know-how and decompartmentalization to develop more virtuous creation mechanisms.


I was looking at different realizations you did and I could notice an abundant work oscillating between scenography, graphic design, artistic objects and commitment for the environment through the work of the Honey Bank. Can you summarize in a few words who is Emmanuelle Roule? What defines your work?

This is quite a sensitive question because I have developed over time a practice around several disciplines. I have a background in graphic design and art direction. Just graduated, I was lucky enough to have commissions that led me to create my studio at the crossroads of image and space. My work links the field of contemporary creation as much as design. I am an artist designer if you want to summarize. The multidisciplinary dimension is important to me, as well as crossing disciplines. I have both my personal work and a collective approach which takes various forms. I have, moreover, a real interest for the built, for the materialization of an object. I work a lot with the material earth.

For your personal work, you use essentially clay, as a material for research and experimentation. Can you tell us more about this approach?

The earth material interests me a lot, especially for its environmental dimension. Its plasticity is interesting, as well as the diversity of typologies and registers of intervention that it offers. Its primary properties are interesting in the environmental questionings and the way of thinking about the uses and the modalities in the future. What is interesting to see is that the earth opens a positive way and a rather infinite field of possibilities.

It is a material that we know, common and now a bit relegated to the field of something archaic, while I think it is the opposite. Its extraction is not very expensive and emits little CO2. The diversity of soils offers a great diversity of clay with their own properties and a very wide use. When we extract the land, the first tens of centimeters are intended for agriculture, the arable land. Then we found what can be used to build objects, architectures… There is also this game of homonymy that symbolizes this earth system, one without a capital letter, our soil, the second with a capital letter, our planet.


Discover her objects


In your approach, we find a political commitment in the literal sense. You fix your work to the city and its context to produce an impact.

There is a committed dimension. First of all it is almost an act of citizenship, then a responsibility linked to the field of creation and the fact of publishing objects. It is a strong but humble posture, because I am part of the flow. The practices around the clay are numerous and inherited from the Neolithic, which opens a time scale on 10.000 years. I just wish to contribute to the valorization of this sector. I want that the material earth concern the greatest number, as well as our uses and habitats of tomorrow. The idea is to be part of a secular dimension. With the underlying will to give another image of this material, at least a more global dimension, which joins the terracotta but also raw earth which builds and nourishes.

The idea is to promote a sector of earth material, just as there is a sector of wood. To achieve this, we need to federate, highlight and encourage working with this material. The goal is to focus attention on all the fields of use of the earth material.

There are incredible innovations to develop, enable and perpetuate. I am conducting research to find alternatives to enamel objects related to tableware and cooking. To stop using toxic natural materials, non-local and whose extraction or supply methods, called rare earths, raise questions and ecological issues.

Avenue du Roi is based in a domestic setting, with the exhibition taking place in an apartment. How did you approach this project?

I designed pieces specifically for this project. I have almost no stock, so each time it’s new creations that are born of an encounter, a project… Together with Thomas Ghaye, we mainly exchanged by videocall because of the context of the pandemic. He wanted objects designed halfway between the functional and the artistic. So, I imagined a series of eight pieces, a variation on the vase, the container. The idea was to work with three different clays, leaving the raw material visible, textured and linked to a work of enameling, colors that contrast with the very matte aspect of the clay. It is a pictorial, sculptural, more artistic work, with also the will that the enamel flows on the clay as an overlay which brings plays of lights and reflections.


Which works did you decide to show for the exhibtion? Can you describe them?

Some pieces are real vases, others only sculptural. Working almost exclusively in low temperature and partially glazing my pieces, they remain porous and cannot contain water. A vase that plays on its use. The will was to decline a series of register of form which has at the same time an integrity, an identity of its own and also a filiation between them, like a family affair. This collection is thought as a family portrait that we put on the edge of a fireplace. We read different natures different personalities, but a link connects them and shape a true unity. The collection is called Énota, meaning unity. Finally, we always come back to the collective and plural dimension.

You work will feature with the one of Dorothée Louise Recker for Avenue du Roi. Have you developed a dialogue between your works?

We had an exchange about our respective approaches, our working methods and the ranges of colors that we use. The goal was not to influence each other but more to underline correspondences, bridges like “quotations”, like “highlighting”;

Like the use of white enamels or darker enamels that produce metallic colors. They refer to textures simulating other materials, recalling the different materials isued by Dorothée in her work. This duet, which was built during long-distance exchanges, can be thought of as an epistolary evocation, nourished by correspondences.


Photographer : Louise Skadhauge

Text : Thibaut Wauthion