duendepr.com news Samir Mazer, surface designer and artist

Samir Mazer, surface designer and artist

MAZER Samir HD-4okbis

To draw a shape with repetition as its purpose. Samir Mazer is an artist who has chosen Moroccan clay tiles, their irregular and sensual surfaces, to create rhythmic patterns. “The repetition of shape and color upon a zellige tile is a musical exercise. It is like drawing a pixel, creating a module and then sampling it to make a track”. An exercise that remains all too difficult and too discrete to be saved from frequent copies by big brands and creators lacking the foresight and mental skill to plan out the sequence of shapes in space.

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Having studied at the Fine Arts School of Casablanca in the mid 90s, Samir Mazer moved to Toulouse in 2000 to refine his practice with a master in industrial design. There, he met his partner and collaborator within the Ateliers Zelij. At the time, the zellige was still but the small clay tile from Fez, with traditional motifs, inherited from the golden age of the Alhambra. A single format of 10 x 10 cm, enameled, cooked and carved with a traditional hammer, whose distinguishable irregular surfaces and shades appeared as a result of wood fired ovens. The zellige remained a composition of tiles, producing unique shapes in small series.

©MartinsCamisuli_LadySomersetRd-18

“Preservation is insufficient for a culture to stay alive, it must also be reinvented. Samir is first and foremost an artist who wields the palette of enamels. Paul Klee made compositions with light forms. Samir Mazer makes zellige-paintings. Kinetic or contemplative mural frescos” explains Salima Naji, architect and anthropologist.

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Made in Fez ever since the 12th century for the quality of its clay and the ease with which it may be carved, the zellige compositions imagined by Samir Mazer and produced by Ateliers Zelij offer formats and pictorial compositions which break with the millenary codes of arabo-andalusian art. Unless they are in fact a return to their very origin, to the essence of sacred geometry so valued by this culture?

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This new language and contemporary approach first seduced Moroccan artisans, custodians of the ancestral savoir-faire, then some of the most prestigious French decorators such as Vincent DarréTristan Auer or Laura Gonzalez for whom Samir Mazer proposes made to measure series, separate from the contemporary editions. In Fez, Samir Mazer meets with the atelier whose ancestral expertise ensures the most prestigious of orders for him. He won over the artisans through his formal innovations. “I began by breaking the codes with a new format of 2 x 2 cm, closer to the pixel, between the mosaic and the larger tile, which allowed me to invent more nervous contemporary rhythms”.

Atelier Delphine Carrère

The next innovation arose thanks to the world leader in epoxide resins who developed a resin specifically for the zellige in early 2010. This resin is used to pre-join and pre-assemble the tiles in standard 30 x 30cm panels. Samir Mazer thus uses his skills as an industrial designer to conceptualize, optimize and democratize his drawings. His zellige sequences are from then on forth made in Morocco and are able to travel without breakages.

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It is a surfacing which has become competitive! Sending a wall of zelliges in separate pieces to cover the walls of a Californian house is no longer just the extravagance of a millionaire. The product has gained a new flexibility, increasing by tenfold the perspectives for this antique tiling which has never been so modern. None doubt that the devotion Samir Mazer has had to remodel this clay tile has contributed to its success acclaimed today by world-class decorators such as Tori Golub, Hammer & Spear, Studio Munge, Black Sheep, Lind+Almond, Martins Camisuli, Albal Design, Paloma Canizares, …

Photo credits 

1/ Portrait Samir Mazer 

2/ Exclusive design 2015

3/ ©TRC9-1 TC33 ©martinscamisuli, UK

4/ Magic Square, 2015

5/ ©TRC3 TC32/TC01, Tristan Auer The Cotton House Mustique Island
6/ DPL1, Atelier Delphine Carrière Biarritz

7/ ©TRC7, Vincent Darré, Rue Royale Paris

www.zelij.com