Amelie Mancini is a French artist currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Exclusively making use of natural materials, she handcrafts each of her pieces with inspiration from desert landscapes, tropical forests, and her own French roots. Mancini’s collections incorporate elements of the great outdoors into simple, functional pieces that look beautiful in any space. We chatted with Mancini about her design process.
When you first arrived in Brooklyn, were there any similarities to life in France that felt familiar?
When I first came to New York City, I was immediately blown away by the energy of the city and the open-mindedness of the people I met. Not to say that French people are not open-minded, at all, but there is a spirit of entrepreneurship and a can-do attitude here that is not as strong in France. It felt very liberating, like I could be whoever I wanted, all I had to do was work hard and not give up. In France I always felt that I had to play by the rules and that my options were limited somehow.
How does your studio space aid in your creative process?
In order to be creative I need to like the space I’m in. I like spaces with lots of light and lots of plants. Doesn’t have to be very clean or organized, as long as there’s enough light and greenery! It probably has to do with feeling the air around me and feeling connected to the outside world but in a private, enclosed space. I also love to go to thrift stores in France and buy old trinkets, antique linens and ceramics, to use as props or just keep around me, as a reminder of where I’m from.
From your Carry-All Totes to your Tea Towels, all of your work serves a purpose. What role does functionality play when you’re designing?
I started off as a painter, although I’ve always loved making things with my hands, for fun – knitting, sewing, building small furniture. At some point though I realized that there was a way to integrate art into everyday life in order to reach more people, by putting my designs on things that people use in their daily life. I started printing my patterns on fabric and sewing that into tea towels, and it seemed like such a great way to bring art to a much wider audience than with my paintings. I could reach hundreds or thousands of people instead of just one person – the owner of the painting. I grew the collection over time to offer not only kitchen linens, but also bags, pouches, accessories… I’m constantly adding new things but I always try to keep the design of the products simple to really showcase the prints.
Your collection seems to be heavily inspired by desert landscapes. How did you communicate your personal connection to the desert through this collection?
Everyday life can feel sometimes a little bit boring or repetitive, and when we’re in a rut it can help to turn to the unfamiliar and the wild to reset our systems! I’m a firm believer in traveling with your imagination when you can’t actually get on a plane, and in bringing in small elements of the wilder outdoors as a way to shake things up a bit.
What part of yourself do you see in this collection?
I’ve always loved to look at nature’s work – from the wilderness of the desert to the lushness of the tropical forest, it always brings me peace and contentment. One of my favorite things to do is to go to a botanical garden with a notebook and draw the plants around me, then go home and work these into my own patterns. It doesn’t really matter if they end up on tea towels or paintings. For me it’s the same process, and I love doing both.