It was a project with architect Peter Marino that gave native Californian Yolande Batteau her entré into the world of high-end commissions. Collaborations on interiors for Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton have led Batteau’s Brooklyn-based firm Callidus Guild to create designs for hôtels particuliers in Paris, and the Edition hotels in London and Istanbul (first picture). Her private clients, meanwhile, have included the late designer David Collins.
What Callidus Guild specialises in is walls: “One-of-a-kind papers, panels and mirrors that honour ancient artisanal techniques but are mixed with contemporary design,” says Batteau. Her growing artisan collective functions much like a traditional Florentine guild – one where sculptors, fresco artists, muralists and jewellers all work together on unique wallpapers (from $275-$350 per yard, examples third and fourth pictures) that can take up to three months to produce. Subtle papers are inspired by sacred geometry, the Meiji arts of Japan, art deco patterns or African art, and each is handcrafted using a minimum of nine layers of plaster, paint and applied materials, but as many as 25. Three coats of marble-dust plaster are a constant, while intricate inlays of mother-of-pearl, malachite, agate and onyx vary according to a client’s wishes. Recent commissions have included stone-studded wall panels depicting Italian landscapes (second picture), as well as one panel incorporating the patron’s astrological sign into the surface. Gold-leaf mirrors in brass frames ($3,500-$8,500, example fifth picture) are another Callidus Guild strength, and can be customised by size and hue to complement wall treatments.
No project is too big or too small, and Batteau delights in coming up with new colourways and linear and sinuous patterns, as well as new modes of production. For a scheme with interior designer and antiques dealer Axel Vervoordt she even created special egg temperas to suit the scene. “I love materials and experimental methods,” says Batteau. “Whether it’s faience, or ancient techniques that are traditionally used in Morocco, Asia or Belgium, I hope that through our work we are preserving some of these beautiful dying arts.”