Kris Van Assche Of Dior Homme’s People To Meet: Antiques Dealer Thomas Fritsch
Artrium, the Parisian gallery owned by Thomas Fritsch, is Van Assche’s favourite destination for the French postwar-period ceramics that fill his dreams. “An afternoon spent in his shop is the best Saturday afternoon in Paris,” the designer says. In Van Assche’s stately apartment in the 17th arrondissement, minimalist urns and ceramic sculptures inhabit every surface – cat-proofed with glue for his beloved felines, Frida and Diego, who roam the premises.
Van Assche was first introduced to Fritsch through Nardi in 2013 and a friendship soon flourished, rooted in their mutual love of ceramics and new wave music – not your typical cocktail, but one that nonetheless reflects the racy minimalism embodied in Van Assche’s Dior Homme rather perfectly.
“We have a little game together,” says Fritsch. “I have to find which new wave track was sampled in the music in the shows. It’s not so easy.” When it comes to ceramics, however, the roles reverse. “He’s part of what I call my auto-education,” Van Assche says. “As I often say, I’m not lucky to be born into a very artistic family, so I have to do all that work myself. I first learnt about fashion, then about fashion photography, then about artistic photography. And then I learned about design and art, and at one point, about ceramics. And Thomas is the ultimate reference for ceramics.” It was the beginning of a strong passion and the creation of one very loyal customer. “Kris finds his inspiration in ceramics because they have so many different shapes, colours or materials,” Fritsch says. “He likes bicoloured ceramics, especially black and white, with a strict design. Pol Chambost is his favourite ceramicist.”
Born in Brest and raised in Paris, Fritsch supplemented his art studies with modelling and became an antiques dealer in 1997. In 2004, he opened Artrium, specialising in French ceramics from 1945-1970. “It’s the first place I’m going to go when I win the lottery,” Van Assche avows. “It’s full of the most beautiful, extraordinary pieces and he has these big stories to tell about them.” The designer’s fascination with ceramics lies in the parallel to his own profession: “There’s something a little bit superficial about it and there’s also something fragile about it, because how on earth is ceramic supposed to look good 70 years after it’s made? There’s also something obsessive about it – I mean, how about making your life all about ceramics by dead designers? I find it fascinating.”
How much has he spent on Fritsch’s expertly curated ceramics, then? “Much less than I could have,” he sighs. Ten thousand? Tens of thousands? “Hmm,” Van Assche smiles, and we’ll leave it at that.
Text by Anders Christian Madsen
Photographer Ian Kenneth Bird
Taken from the latest issue of 10 Men, REBEL HEART, on newsstands now…