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Portrait | April 3st, 2019

Combining design and poetry, limited editions and natural forms, Valérie Maltaverne produces thematic collections at the cutting edge of design while revisiting traditional know-how.
The Noguchi Museum in New York used the brand to develop a collection inspired by Isamu Noguchi's light sculptures in washi paper and bamboo. Le Bon Marché presents exclusively this collection Akari Unfolded where the sculptures are divided into 6 families.

Who’s behind YMER&MALTA?

YMER&MALTA is a design studio with its own unique way of working. Anything produced by YMER&MALTA involves a whole team, a whole exchange – it’s a constant dialogue between Valérie Maltaverne, the designers and the artisans.

How did the "Akari Unfolded" project start life?

After Dakin Hart (Senior Curator at the Noguchi Museum) met Valérie Maltaverne, Dakin naturally thought of the YMER&MALTA studio in connection with showcasing Lumière by Isamu Noguchi.
Their creations are similar in approach: sculptural, architectural, poetic and innovative.

How does the staging of the collection in New York differ from the staging at Le Bon Marché?

At his atelier, now the museum, Isamu Noguchi used old beams in presenting his sculptures. It’s a tradition that lives on.
YMER&MALTA opted for the same presentation as for all his exhibitions at the museum.
We have recreated the same environment for Le Bon Marché, only on a much smaller scale.

Why did you choose Le Bon Marché as the exclusive venue to display your collection in France?

Le Bon Marché is the most exclusive of all the department stores in Paris, but above all, has a long tradition of hosting quality exhibitions that feel more cultural and image-conscious than strictly commercial.
It seemed to us the best place to announce the launch of our "Lumière" collection, light sculptures created for the Noguchi Museum and displayed there for over a year.
Incidentally, this is the only public display planned. Usually, it’s museums or our studio providing the only opportunities.
I also have an emotional connection with Le Bon Marché, as the store where I spent my youth. I go all the way across Paris to shop there now.

What is it like working with the designers?

We create a collection with the designers roughly every two years, beginning with a sketch, revisions to which continue to be made for a year – a year of constant dialogue – until the design feels right.
Time allows us freedom.
We work side by side and always with the same passion and excitement.

And how do you work with the artisans?

We search out the most talented individuals available in France, before discussing the various options and techniques with them. More often than not, our designs present real challenges in terms of their innovation and the artisans take great pride in tackling them.

You place great importance on the choice of materials used in your lamp sculptures. Why are you so meticulous?

This meticulous attitude towards materials and "savoir-faire" is the driving force of YMER&MALTA.
It was because of this meticulousness that the curator of the Noguchi Museum approached our studio; the task was considerable in doing justice to one of the most talented artists of the 20th century.
This collection involved working with around 20 artisans, each of whom had a crucial role to play; we even went as far as creating new materials.