You’ve never seen a light like Alain Ellouz’s. That’s because the Parisian lighting designer doesn’t adhere to tradition, trends, or the typical. In fact, his geometric, tubular lighting installations are made of materials rarely, if ever, used in today’s design. In 2006, the former computer salesman opened his first studio, and began working with only one material: alabaster. The Ancient Egyptian-favorite is a natural mineral that appears snow-white, and is easily carved. For thousands of years, alabaster has been used by cultures around the world but is less common in today’s Western designs. Seeing the beauty in the translucent rock, Ellouz has been crafting inventive, ingenious lighting, and has been used in over 1000 spaces around the globe. Using only alabaster and rock crystal as his primary elements, the New York Design Award winner manages to keep each design different and fresh using unique shapes and nontraditional forms. Let Alain light up your #MakerMonday in our interview below.
The Cosy is an archway of alabaster.
Andrew Joseph: What’s your wakeup ritual?
Alain Ellouz: Morning is a very important time for me, it really is a ritual. I wake up every day at 6:00 am. I begin with an hour of meditation, never less, never more. Then I practice 25 minutes of exercise on my trampoline before making myself a large glass of fresh vegetable juice. After this ritual, I leave for work feeling great.
Andrew: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Alain: Passion has no borders; we can’t divide ourselves into two people. I’m the same person at work as I am in my personal life. For me, balance is bringing our passion for life into our work and vice versa.
Andrew: What is something no one knows about you?
Alain: Before creating AAE, I created and headed several IT companies with more than one hundred employees. I also sculpted and that’s how I discovered alabaster. In 2005, the idea came to me to create a studio specialized in this stone still unknown to the design community. Fourteen years later, names like Rolls Royce, Dior, LVMH and Van Cleef use our creations in their boutiques.
Andrew: Dream country to work in? Or dream project to take on?
Alain: For me, the United States is still the ideal country to create and succeed, the country of “Yes you can.” In France, it’s hard to recognize new talent. My experience in New York was extraordinary and it has pushed me to invest more in the US.
The Infinity 08 V is as timeless as its name suggests.
Andrew: What has been your greatest surprise?
Alain: My latest surprise was rather recent. Last May, we had the pleasure of winning first prize in the Architectural Lighting Design category at the NEW YORK DESIGN AWARDS. An unbelievably wonderful surprise!
Andrew: Which modern design trend gets under your skin?
Alain: All design is interesting as long as it’s innovative. The worst is when designers continually copy something that was a success. For example, in 2000 the glass chandeliers by Murano were ubiquitous. I thought they were great but after seeing them over and over again, I could no longer stand them.
Andrew: What are three things you can’t live without?
Alain: Meditation! I meditate every morning, it’s food for my soul as is art and culture. It brings well-being to my body and mind.
The enthusiasm that drives me every day. I am enthusiastic about life; I realize how lucky I am to be alive and to be able to take advantage of all life has to offer me.
Finally, my family. My wife Christel, my children, but also the people I work with. AAE is like my extended family!
Andrew: What is the ingredient you add to everything you do?
Alain: Joy. Joy is the key ingredient for creating. Daring to do something takes positivity. Joy is the remedy for fear. But that takes daily work to achieve!!
About The Maker | Alain Ellouz was born in France, he studied computer science and at the age of 28, he was already a business leader. In 2000 he sold his companies and devoted himself to Art and Sculpture. The start of a new page in his life, he decided to devote his life to the most beautiful stone in the world: alabaster. For the last 15 years, his dedication to this natural stone just grew more and more. In 2006 Alain decided to open his first Alabaster studio. His Parisian studio strives to carve light out of stone. He manifests simple and pure pieces that come alive in space. Their projects range in complexity from simple lighting fixtures inspired by Japanese minimalism to monumental 15-meter-high alabaster wall fixtures weighing more than 20 tons. Regardless of dimension or size, Atelier Alain Ellouz pieces emanate a quality of airiness. The work they produce at Atelier Alain Ellouz erases any trace of the fabrication process to render alabaster in its purest form. Though alabaster is at the heart of Alain’s Atelier, he also utilizes rock crystals for certain projects. Akin to alabaster, rock crystals are delicate and require a specialized touch to obtain their subtle form. The story of Alain and these natural stones has just started, he’s more than ever decided to continue to dedicate his life to these natural and powerful stones, alabaster and rock crystal.