Local. Eco- Friendly. Handmade.
During my visit to Montreal, I had the pleasure to meet and interview Isabelle Auger, owner of Atelier Cocotte in her studio. Isabelle started Atelier Cocotte about seven years ago. Atelier Cocotte has various eco-friendly handmade wood lamps, light fixtures, and wall clocks. Her pieces have appeared throughout Canada and the US. Cocotte means pinecone in French. Inspired by nature, her light fixtures relate to the origin of the material. The shapes of the light fixtures are inspired by fruit, nuts, flowers, and things found in woods. The light fixtures can be used in commercial and residential applications and have been used in offices, spas, restaurants, bars, boutiques, to lounges. The simplicity of the material and variety of shapes and fixtures allow her designs to be utilized in several applications. Her items can be found on her website (ateliercocotte.com) and Etsy (AtelierCocotte) and a few retailers.
Check out the interview below.(disclaimer: interview content has been edited for clarity)
Q: How did you begin Atelier Cocotte?
A: It’s after I had two maternity leaves. I had my kids back to back and after that, I didn’t want to go back to my graphic designer job I had. So for fun, I just experimented with wood at home and I got some positive feedback. So I made few models and after several purchases, I finally decided to take a studio here because some models were pretty big. It happened quite fast, I got positive feedback for my work and another boutique in Canada asked me to sell the product collection. Every year I have to add new models to the collection, but it is always natural, woody, floral, and nature inspired.
Q: Does your graphic design background influence your work?
A: Yes, of course with the line and construct, A little bit but I also worked with wood when I was at University. My student job was woodworking in a studio to fix furniture and things like that. But yeah, I see a graphic style in my work.
Q: How did you decide to use wood as your material?
A: I used this material mostly because I had it. In Quebec, we are so close to wood and nature and it’s a material I like to work with. It’s natural, it’s ‘Eau de Canada’. It’s eco-friendly too because all the wood I use is locally sourced from Quebec or Canada, the smell. It’s nice to work with.
Q: What type of wood species do you use?
A; Walnut. I also use oak, white birch, red birch. This is mostly the kind of wood I’ve used. I also do made-to-measure and custom projects so if a client wants Indian teak or something I can order for them and make a custom project.
Q: Do you think the Culture of Montreal has an influence on your designs?
A: Probably, in a way. The eco-friendly part of it. I think so, but it is probably Quebec City too. It’s a little bit Scandinavian too. I am not from Montreal, I am from Quebec city but I have lived in Montreal for 15-20 years.
Q: Do you see a difference in culture between Quebec City and Montreal?
A: Yes, totally. Montreal is more open to new projects and people are more able to pay a little bit before for a product that is made here. It is more common in the big city of Montreal.
Q: What is your design process? How are you inspired and how do you come up with new fixtures?
A: Sometimes it’s sketches, especially if its custom, but often it’s only just by working with the wood. It’s more like trial and error. I have some designer friends who sometimes I consult what about a new project I am working on for feedback.
Q; Is there a more popular lamp people tend to buy? Do you have a favorite?
A: Yes, the Noisette ( hazelnut in English) 7-year-old model still a really good seller. Not really, I don’t have a favorite. I see them as a family so I love them all for different reasons. I love them all.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of what you do?
A: The hardest part is when I make custom projects. Sometimes when I have a specific direction for a project, it is difficult, but I like it too. It is a lot of meetings, a lot of phone calls, a lot of changes all the time. That is the most challenging part.
Q: Do you have a process for creating your pieces?
A: Yes, I do it step-by-step. I have an order. This day I cut this type of wood. The next day I do electricity, The next day I do assembly. Sometimes I do it all at once, especially if it’s a rush. Typically I divide it by task. I’ll tell myself, today I am cutting wood, or today I am assembling, doing boxes, or delivering.
Q: Where is your favorite place to eat in Montreal?
A: The restaurant I like would be Mais, a Mexican restaurant on St. Laurent. which really It has a really long table, really comfy. It has really good fish tacos, guacamole, and margaritas. I like it, it’s not fancy, it’s a fun place.
Q: What is your Favorite Place in Montreal?
A. Mile End is a place I like to go walk. And I still love nature like La Parc Fontaine too.
Like what you see?
I know I do. Here’s where you can check out more information about Atelier Cocotte:
List of Retailers: https://ateliercocotte.com/pages/retailers
One retailer I recommend visiting is Boutique des métiers d’arts de Montréal. It’s right on Rue Saint-Paul and you can check out a lot of other unique local artisans showcased in the boutique.
Boutique des métiers d’arts de Montréal
20, rue Saint-Paul Ouest
Go and check em’ out!