We met Didier Guillon, the French- Swiss art collector, artist, founder and CEO of the swiss cosmetic company Valmont in Munich for the opening of his latest exhibition TINTSWALO at the MAISON VALMONT. It is based upon a personal story of him visiting the Berlin zoo with his daughter where they encountered the famous Gorilla IVO. His daughter Valentine asked her father to set him free and he did by taking his image and translating it with various collaborating artist around the world.
IRMA: Tell me about your concept to place art in all the Maison Valmont, worldwide.
DIDIER GUILLON: We produce products of outstanding quality and great services.
But if you want to welcome the customer in a world of experience, you need to create more than just good products. It is about emotions and about the wider spectrum of the company’s language.
And the other thing is that if you want to catch the interest of the younger generation, you cannot only do that with the product.
Because we are moving to one world. A world where the objective is not to sell you a lot of products but to convince you to be loyal and to come back to the brand and its values.
Since 30 years we are using Art in our communication. Its universal and eternal.
IRMA: You once said that the communication about art is always done in a peaceful way. How can I understand that?
DIDIER GUILLON: For example, when you are in a museum you can discuss about the difference of art. One might like a particular artist and another person might not like it. But the form of communication about different opinions will be always peaceful in a museum, in the context of art.
IRMA: You are an artist yourself. When you plan an exhibition, how does it begin?
DIDIER GUILLON: In our Venice space we develop a concept and follow it trough. The Biennale needs concepts. We are telling stories in a series of exhibitions, inspired by fairy tales. We have Beauty and the Beast. We had “Hansel and Gretel” last year and next year we will do “Alice in Wonderland”.
The Exhibitions in the other Maison Valmont are different, they start upon a personal preference and a collaboration with artist we connect with.
IRMA: Will the exhibitions travel between another Maison Valmont?
DIDIER GUILLON: Yes, most exhibitions are travelling through all the Maisons. The Venice exhibitions are the only one who stay in Venice due to the installation and kind of art pieces.
IRMA: Is there a key factor in your exhibitions?
DIDIER GUILLON: Sustainability. All the work is made from recyclable material. It will be destroyed after the exhibitions. No clutter.
IRMA: How do you connect with artists and their work?
DIDIER GUILLON: I enjoy talking to the artists whose work intrigued me, I have an intellectual exchange, a discussion about all kind of things: Movies, music, books etc. . After the evening I can feel if there is a connection and if there is one, I commission work for Valmont.
IRMA: Tell me about your latest project, the Valmont Residences?
DIDIER GUILLON: We created residences for our very good loyal clients to experience the Valmont world. Verbier in Switzerland, Hydra, Greece, Venice and the next will be Barcelona. You have the treatments in an exclusive and intimate surrounding with pieces of our art collection in places which are very unique. At the same time, we learn so much more about our clients’ needs and how to hone our services. It is a perfect exchange.
IRMA: You like to share and give which is very rare in our society at the moment. You are a patronage of the US organization POLYCOLOR (All of the sales of your art pieces go to 100% to this organization).
DIDIER GUILLON: I think giving back and supporting has more value than only gaining and getting more. I always tell my children it is best to be on List of the 100 most generous People in the world than on the 100 richest.
IRMA: Your wife Sophie is very much involved in the concept and creation of the Valmont Cosmetic world. How do you and your wife share your work at the company?
DIDIER GUILLON: My wife is in charge of the product, of the technical part and I am in charge of the emotional experience.
IRMA: I like very much how you start creating a visual story upon one subject, like with IVO.
DIDIER GUILLON: Yes, it is a great starting point. He is now tattooed on my forearm, we created a surfboard with his design, I designed a table with different layers of black outline of IVO and pasting them on top of each other, so they create a pattern. There is a carpet made out of the IVO design and I am sure there is more to come.
The outline of a gorilla is a perfect image with strong dimensions and a powerful yet peaceful presence.