“Why can’t a city centre be covered in plants and colour?” – Interview with Camille Walala
From full-facade murals and 3D installations to interiors and set design, Camille Walala is on a mission to enrich the world’s human landscapes with colour, character and irrepressible positivity.
Based in East London, Camille Walala is a French artist who takes joy very seriously. Over the last decade, she has become renowned for making ambitious and large-scale interventions in public spaces around the world, using the man-made landscape as a vessel for disseminating positivity.
Camille’s art is visceral, immediate and instinctive. Her bold colours, playful shapes and geometric patterns inject powerful visual energy into a location, lifting moods, stirring hearts and raising smiles in all who pass through.
Who is Camille Walala? How did the journey for Studio Walala begin?
Camille Walala: “I’m an artist from France, I’ve been living in London for 23 years. I founded my studio in 2009, but I’ve always been creative and interested in colour. The journey has taken a long time to get where I am today – perseverance is so important!“
Why Studio Walala, why focusing on the use of vibrant colours and bold patterns?
Camille Walala: “I’ve been using joy as a starting point for everything I’ve done. It’s important for me… living in a big city which can be quite grey, I can see how colour and pattern can bring a lot of joy to people’s lives. It’s very rewarding to have an impact on public spaces.”
Your signature style is instantly recognizable, optimistic, exuberant and full of the joys of geometry. Are there any designers that you are inspired or influenced by?
Camille Walala: “I’ve always been inspired by artists who are really accessible and share art with people, like Keith Haring and Sonia Delaunay. It’s all about bringing art into people’s everyday lives!“
Having graduated as a textile designer and now creating stimulating environments filled with optimistic colours and exuberant geometries; if you did not do what you actually do, what else would you do?
Camille Walala: “I would work with kids as a career adviser. Most of the time they don’t know what to do and can get quite bad advice… I would want them to dream a bit. Help them decide what’s next, what’s right for them. Not to put too much pressure on themselves.”
What is the purpose, message or motto you want to convey through your works?
Camille Walala: “My slogan is “taking joy seriously”, which I think describes what I am trying to achieve. I want to create an emotion, to put a smile on people’s faces.”
If you want to know more about Camille Walala’s collaboration with Lego, head to Lego X Walala – HOUSE OF DOTS is a child’s dream house with over 2 million pieces of Lego.
Nowadays, your client list includes big companies such as LEGO, Art Fund, Facebook and Grosvenor. How do you choose the type of client and project to work on? What would be a dream client for you to work with?
Camille Walala: “I am always interested in doing something community based. I like to be challenged by a brief, to have an interesting space to work with. Lots of my past projects respond to architectural structure and details. Having a good feeling about the client is important too, I’ve learned to trust my instincts more.
There are so many dream projects and never enough time. I would love to do something with an historic museum or pedestrianise a public space!“
The ‘Walala Lounge’ was one of a kind project that transformed a street into a colourful “urban living room”. What kind of feedback and reaction do you receive when people pass by your creations?
Camille Walala: “People often mention a sense of togetherness when they see my work. I like to give people an excuse to take some time out and enjoy the moment… not just to be shopping or working. Public spaces can be so beautiful if we take a moment to pause and reflect on them. People also tell me about feeling like a kid again. I feel proud to bring out their inner child!”
What is the next step for the Walala Studio?
Camille Walala: “I just shared a series of images and a letter all about reimagining what our cities could look like. My vision was to pedestrianise Oxford Street… why can’t a city centre be covered in plants and colour? There are a few projects I am working on. A tile collaboration in Milan, an exhibition in the USA. But I can’t get into too many details just yet! I am excited for taking time to be creative in my studio too, to just focus on personal projects.“
Curious to know more about colorful urban interventions? Don’t miss The colorful & engaging street architecture of 100Architects.