Art has always been present in the life of Belgian-born Katrien Van Der Schueren; today she is an artist and creative director of Voila! Creative Studio, the multi-disciplinary art and design-focused workshop she founded in 2008 in Los Angeles, California. She came to the US with a diverse professional background in Europe, originally importing vintage posters, selling them to local antiques shops and vendors. Over time, she expanded her offerings to include art, vintage furnishings and objects imported from Europe, eventually opening her gallery – Voila! – to showcase her finds. Her professionalism and ability to find or create the perfect element for each space made her and her team the perfect to conceptualize, design, manufacture and install fascinating pieces in the spectacular hotel located in Los Cabos. We had the opportunity to talk with her so that she could tell us a little more about the experience of bringing life to this incredible resort through art with the collaboration of talented designer Kuskin-May.
Can you tell us how did art became a passion in your life?
Even as a child I was fascinated by art and objects. Both grandparents collected art of different time frames, so I was exposed to art and the appreciation of it very early on. I grew up with a family of artists in France where vacations were spent building rooms, painting onto walls and cupboards, collecting all kinds of beautiful things such as stones and vintage coffee cans and then doing something with it. The excitement to explore new materials and to learn how to work with them definitely dates back to pretty early in my youth and I had plenty of people to share that excitement with. I studied art history at University to learn more about the different styles and history. I definitely didn’t ever think that making art or making things could be my profession, but, turns out, it is!
What can you tell us about Voilá Creative Studio and your professional experience?
Voila! makes site and content specific custom art for a variety of industries. Whether it’s branded art for offices or custom art for hotels and high end residential. We go over the project with the Designer, Architect or Ownership and will propose custom art options in a variety of materials that fits the architecture, design intent, and budget. It’s very much a storytelling process through materials and styles. Most art is made in-house, whether it’s sculpture, painting or prints. At times we also work with other artisans and artists.
What do you like the most about working in Mexican projects?
Just to be able to use colors and the history and environment of Mexico and its culture. It’s so exciting to study the history, the environment and the heritage of Mexico and its region when working on those projects. It allows me and my team to explore their use of materials, color scheme, storytelling, aesthetic etc. We soak it up and then kind of pay tribute in a way by integrating it as a common thread throughout the project.
Tell us about the experience of collaborating for Estiatorio Milos at Four Seasons Los Cabos.
We created about twenty different pieces for that development. Part were sculptures and paintings and furniture for the Estiatorio and part were sculptures and furniture for the SPA. All pieces made were inspired by the nature and history of the environment. We mostly used natural fibers, concrete and natural woods to reflect the materials surrounding the art and furniture. For Estiatorio Milos the most challenging piece was a 40 feet wall sculpture on a curved wall. The designer at first wanted to pay homage to all the concrete reliefs that you can find in Mexico and make it look like a wall sculpture that had been there for ages even if it was a new construction. The look and feel evolved eventually, as it often does during the process of working on it, but that was the original concept. From there we started going back and forth with designs and styles. In the end the sculpture is a reference to brutalist paintings as that felt like the right tone and language for the project. The subjects itself pay homage to the nature surrounding the restaurant. There is the cactus and a more or less abstract totem pole and there is the sun. Estiatorio Milos has very open architecture and an indoor/ outdoor feel. When sitting there you can experience the most gorgeous sunsets whilst you are literally almost sitting on the beach, very close to the water. Our material for the wall mural was concrete clay. We used clay that allows us to apply the mural directly on the curved wall. It’s not only much lighter than the regular concrete but it also allows sculpting and shaping for about two hours. The mural was directly made at location, which was an incredible experience by itself. My favorite pieces for the spa are two self-standing life size sculptures. We used the same concrete clay, there again the shapes of the sculptures are inspired by the nature surrounding the spa. In an abstract way these pieces refer to the mountains, the desert, the moon, yet they are contemporary and soothing for a spa. Other sculptures we made for the property were natural stone sculptures – they are open floating stones on rebar and through them you can view landscapes as well. As for the paintings we made, the designer wanted to use bold primary colors of simple geometric shapes but the handwoven yute brings it all back to the Mexican traditions of weaving.
Photos courtesy of Voila! Creative Studio