As creatives, inspiration derives from endless outlets. Experiences, places, relationships, etc. mark the birthplace of many brands and their respective philosophies. As the summer slowly approaches its unwanted end, I had the pleasure of interviewing the mastermind behind Etat Libre D’Orange, Etienne de Swardt. Etienne spends his summer days in the French countryside, close to his French roots. In spirit of the season, the interview focuses on his experience in the countryside and its impact on the brand.
Claudia: Tell us about your countryside oasis!
Etienne: I was born in South Africa, raised in the southern hemisphere in between Noumea and Pretoria. I was sent to Paris to study then lost in translation, missing my southern paradises, a tormented young adult I was yes, raging against the unfair etc. and then I met my wife, she made me French deeply rooted to somewhere at last, the Loire valley, satisfied and contented being in a place where I belong + a craft beer around a camp fire the pioneer style (something like Walt Whitman/ leaves of grass "pioneers o pioneers"), some kind of heritage from the free state my French & rsa Colorado saga but always in the Loire valley now where in fact I can travel without moving, cry my vendômois would have said the Poet Pierre de Ronsard.
Claudia: During the summer months, do you reserve your trips for work or pleasure?
Etienne: I don't travel during the summer months, in fact I hate traveling, I am not a nomad, just a constant gardener, no more a conqueror, I am turning the other side of the mountain, pass the highest point, turning my back on the pick now and I smile watching the energetic youngest my children and their friends in their eternal samsara of rebirth. We are so universal; we pretend we are singulars no way just beautiful insects echoing the same adventures in life.
Claudia: Would you describe the summer as a time of work with great inspiration or a period to replenish for new ideas?
Etienne: Most of my time fighting the vegetal army growing faster than the poor efficiency of my Kubota tractor. This tractor is my everything, it absorbs / swallows all my thoughts when driving, it's delicious, a true yogi I become thanks to Kubota giving me a no brain activity. I become good with no brain activity, you should try my Kubota is like a massive glass of chardonnay but no side effects the day after.
Claudia: How would you describe your creative process in an untraditional work setting?
Etienne: Beer beyond one liter no less than 6.5 % alcohol + Walking with my dog, talking nonsense to him, moving from one street lamp pole to the other, watching his delicate but sensational " picking grabbing licking female's hormones process" beautiful city dog life in fact. Faust [my dog] is my true creative guide and master in life, I am his padawan; romanticism sucks, mammal sex is everything. Bravo Faust take me once again over the rainbow of vain socialites.
Claudia: How have various experiences and spaces shaped the image and design of the brand?
Etienne: The forgotten coast in New Caledonia and the call of the wild bush in the free state of Orange, the rest is anecdotic + reading Gary Larson’s far side irony in my rudimentary hammock ;-)
Claudia: What are your favorite aspects of the countryside? Are these features evident within the brand?
Etienne: Not at all, a total paradox, but the larger the paradox the better the confusion leverage for the brand. Countryside is bourgeoisie, ownership and limited socialites whereas ELO [Etat Libre d'Orange] is welcoming all freaks on board.
Claudia: Would you say Etat Libre D’Orange is city chic or countryside couture?
Etienne: It's trash but precious, ambiguity is ELO, a brand valid for both urban or nature it gives you perspective through irony meaning somehow entertain yourself full speed wearing a nice perfume before returning quickly to the soil.
With a glimpse into Etienne’s mind -- and therein Etienne’s world -- it becomes apparent that Etat Libre d’Orange is a brand of contrasts, even with Etienne himself. Despite creatively directing an audacious brand of varied complexities, Etienne remains a man of simple summer pleasures, residing in his picturesque country home. In other words, Etat Libre d’Orange becomes an extension of both Etienne and Etienne’s alternate, past self.
from The Modern Renaissance
Arts and pop culture blogger exploring the world of niche fragrances and their relevant impact.