MATERIAL GIRLS: Quebec Designers Basma Osama & Marie-Jose Gustave Romance Their Media

Large grouping of white bowls and plates

When one of my favourite Quebec Designers, Tat Chao, introduced me to the work of Basma Osama (Ceramik B.) and Marie-José Gustave I was struck by how loyal they both were to their material of choice. These women are faithful to their muse!

Basma’s silky white work is easy on the eyes. Her bowls,cups and dishes evoke a handsome elegance which I am sure makes the food caressed inside look all the more tantalizing. But the real stunner is her piece The Letter No. 1. Assembled with over 1000 pieces of hand-thrown porcelain it is without comparison!

Small organically shaped white porcelain shapes placed into 3 panels of wood hanging on a wall

“Inspired from a handwritten personal letter, Letter No. 1 carries a language that goes beyond visual perception. The elements of this language aim to reach, to call out to the reader and invite interaction. Emotions and thoughts come through two simultaneous rhythms: a linear rhythm, punctuated by spaces that allow the content of this letter to physically place itself. And the rhythm of curves, unique to each element, give each sign its meaning, as words often do. The shapes of these organic elements, coming out of the wooden support, act as the conveyors of meaning. The support, made of local walnut wood, supports the text and underlines it as a language sign.”

Close up of small white porcelain shapes placed into holes in wood like pegs
Small organically shaped white porcelain shapes placed into 3 panels of wood hanging on a wall

Basma was lead to  porcelain because of a need to “work with a refined type of clay” as well as desire to “submit to its whimsical character.” Her loyalty to porcelain? “Because I love it! I meticulously craft it and work on its texture, and it gives it back, every time!” Her muse is as faithful to her as she is to it!

When asked what is special about this material as opposed to other materials she has worked with she replies “I like its texture, its density, its colour, the way it behaves in the kiln…and the way it reasserts how humble I have to remain when I use it.”

And when I inquire if there is a romance she has with the material she emphatically answers “Yes, a huge one! One of many years, many events, many stories and I would not exchange it for any other clay!”

White plates, bowls and saucers
Upclose image of corrogated cardboard wrapped and stitched together in a pillar form

Beautifully blurring craft and design.

Marie-José Gustave’s objects and furniture merge design with craft. She says that she has always been inspired by and has a passion for craft. This led her to master in clothing production as well as to develop a skill set that includes sewing, knitting, and weaving along with paper molding. But her love affair with cardboard came from a more practical encounter. Upon moving to Quebec from France and wondering what to do with all the boxes that remained as evidence of her transition she began to experiment with the material that had now taken up residency in her new home. The boxes never left and instead motivated her to create what is now a strong body of work that shows the beauty of this humble material.

Pillars of cardboard sticted together and hanging in store window

I have always adored the textural richness of cardboard. I have used it in my own art practice so it makes sense that I would gravitate to Marie-José‘s work but what I found fresh was the way she manipulated the cardboard. That is what ultimately seduced me. She has taken this material to another level and has prototyped a new way of thinking about cardboard as a valid choice of material for decor and design. “I love the challenge of diverting the material to make it soft and flexible, find its transparency, shape it the way I want.” She definitely has a lover’s touch!


Above images provided by artists Basma Osama and Marie-José Gustave. Image of Marie-José by Stéphanie Lamy.

See Basma and Marie-José‘s work Thursday through until Sunday at Toronto’s Interior Design Show. They are located in the Studio North Section (Booth SN20) and are featured as part of a collective of Quebec Designers QC DESIGN.




Images of QC Design at IDS’ Studio North by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

SPINNING TOPS: Tat Chao & Tahir Mahmood @ IDS

Woman holding colourful spinning tops cupped in her hands
Gelareh with small painted spinning tops. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Stop spinning in all directions – where to find the best tops in Toronto!

This post is inspired by Gelareh Saadatpajouh, Program Coordinator of Toronto Design Offsite and her love of spinning tops.

I re-discovered my love of these tiny and transportable works of art / design. And I know where you can find some well-crafted tops. Designer Tat Chao does beautiful ones in up-cycled glass stemware and Tahir Mahmood in wood. And both designers will be at the Interior Design Show this year.

Man spinning glass tops made from up-cycled stemware with frosted finish
Glass spinning tops by design Tat Chao . Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
Wooden spinning top with natural wood and pink and green painted areasCollection of colourful wooden spinning tops
Above images of wooden spinning tops by Tahir Mahmood (images from www.tahirmahmood.com)
Woman playing with spinning tops on a tableGelareh with small painted spinning tops. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

For more information on IDS visit www.interiordesignshow.com or follow on Facebook & twitter @IDSToronto & #IDS13.

Logo for IDS the Interior Design Show