Designer Profile: Cathy Azria

March 26, 2010


Artist/designer Cathy Azria was born in Tunisia and lived in France until she came to London in 1980 to study sculpture. Living in London ever since and working for private clients, architects and designers, she designs sculptural installations for interiors. She draws her inspiration from natural materials, organic forms, the interplay of light and a conviction that what is functional in the home can also be beautiful. Fire is the area interesting her most at the moment. She began to design fire installations when her search for a contemporary fireplace for her own home proved fruitless. Since then, she has been exploring the whole concept of fire and light, using metal both for its sculptural potential and for the way that it responds to heat, transforming into glowing forms.

Cathy never has and will never, mass-produce. She works by establishing a train of thought, then developing and refining it in response to each client’s requirements. Every piece is therefore unique, signed and numbered by its creator.

Contemporist: What is the best thing about being a designer?
Cathy Azria: The freedom to let your mind and imagination take you where ever it wants to. My own life and needs are mainly the seed of new ideas.. if I cannot find what I need or if I dont like the products the market offers, I dont resign and buy what is available. I have to find an alternative which I want to live with.  A kind of reaction to market bullies I guess..

From this point, anything can happen.. my mind is relentlessly developping ideas using different avenues, all at the same time. Then materials: cost, weight and other issues help the process of elimination and slowly a new product or design is born. I guess a bit like a pregnancy!

Contemporist: What is the worst thing about being a designer?
Cathy Azria: I guess it is the unknown reaction to your idea..and if and when you will sell any..  While I develop it , my need and taste guides the product.. I dont look for any feedback and work my ideas  alone as I am my hardest  critic  I hope that if it passes my test, the world will eventually join me.

When I created Bonfire (my first-born fire) , people thought I was mad, and politely kept a straight face.. I could tangibly feel their doubts . Who on earth will  want to put a sculpture in their fireplace? And spending money for the fire too? Ludicrous!

I happened to think the opposite! And I have to thank one very close friend for believing in me and giving me my first commission which I then photographed so I could show it to other potential clients…
Financially, it is a guessing game!

Contemporist: How do you describe your style?
Cathy Azria: Difficult question I never ask myself.. I guess my designs ,like my sculptures,  come from my guts and are based on simple material or shape which I play with to translate energyMy works are sculptures which become a design .. the sculptural aspect combined to the functional need become a product..

Contemporist: What is the process behind what you do?
Cathy Azria: I have several ” families” so to speak.

When I create my sculptures for fireplaces, I dream about how I would like the flames to be entertained.  It is very important for me not to compete with the beauty of the flame. Indeed,  I want to complement it. My sculpture must not distract from the flames but act as a stage for them to dance through.From this idea, I imagine different shapes  and feelings that the shape will convey.

When I am making a commission (all my pieces are doneon commission),  I collect as much information as possible about the fire setting as  well as the house style, and the client‘s personality and what feeling  they wish  to live with. With all that in mind, I am then free to create my piece.

For my bronze tables, it is a totally different process. They are like people and have to fit into my lifestyle. So their dimensions vary accordingly.. I know they are not for everybody, the weight itself is almost a deterrent.. but the owners have to be in love with the incredible unique feeling of having a 100 % pure bronze table , made with all the fine art skills , care and love a proper sculpture enjoys. I work the shape in my studio, and then moulds are made at the foundary in Suffolk.   I then go there and work on each shape before assembling them into a table. Once the table is born, the very exciting process of deciding on the bronze patina begins;  so many different patina colours are possible, hence a variety of moods..

Visit Cathy Azria’s website – here.