“My biggest achievement is to have been able to find my voice and express my stories without trying to please anyone. What you see at Maison Balzac is my true, honest perception of the world.”
- Elise Pioch Balzac
French-born, Sydney-based, Elise Pioch Balzac is the founder and creative director of Maison Balzac. Approaching possessions through the lens of curiosity and nostalgia, each piece channels something of the beauty and wonder of the natural world along with a sense of being found and collected: a memento of time, emotion, experience and place. Drawing from her own idyllic childhood and the artistic essence of imaginative play, her vividly beautiful collections are full of the sensory cues of early memory: a dream-like interplay of colour and light that have characterised much of the identity of Maison Balzac and its unique and exquisitely eclectic, perfumed and ritual objets d’art.
With an obvious connection to her environment, we ask Elise what’s inspiring her right now and the liberty of personal expression when free from the opinion and approval of others.
Elise at home, pictured with the Rachel Donath Wave Fire Screen.
Image credit: Anne Petters for Lee Mathews Journal
Physically, where are you right now? Are you at home, on holiday, in the office or elsewhere?
I am at home by the water near Church Point (Northern Beaches of Sydney).
How does your current environment inform your creative process and what is inspiring you right now?
My home is surrounded by nature (bush and ocean) and this is what keeps me grounded, balanced and inspired.
Glassware from Maison Balzac.
Image by Dijana Risteska
For every good idea there are many more we reject. Do you ever salvage ideas that didn’t come to fruition at a later stage or do you just move on?
We recently salvaged an idea I had before Covid, the prototype was sitting on my desk for years until my team said: let’s launch it! And it’s now our best selling product so there is a lot of merit in revisiting past ideas.
What have been some personal milestones that you have achieved outside the expectation or perceived expectation of others?
My biggest achievement is to have been able to find my voice and express my stories without trying to please anyone. What you see at Maison Balzac is my true honest perception of the world. It took me 36 years to stop creating with my parents in mind, or my previous manager, or my husband or my friends. I reached deep inside me and everything else followed!
If you analysed the most important factors in your success, what would say these have been?
I believe in my lucky star, I feel that she always places me in the right place at the right time. On the other hand in the last 10 years I’ve shared myself and my quirky objects with the world a lot so it helped in being seen and validated by like minded people.
What are your personal and creative rituals, if any?
My only daily ritual is a fresh chai tea in the morning made with stick chai tea, oat milk and local honey. Everything else in the day is unexpected, organic and fast!
Image of Elise taken by Dijana Risteska
Where do you go to find creative refuge?
At home by the water, with my ginger cat on my lap and a glass of Prosecco or pomegranate juice in hand.
If you could go back in time and begin again without knowing what you do now, would you?
What piece of wisdom currently resonates with you and how does it inform your approach to life right now?
I have two pieces of wisdom that inform my life: “you never regret a swim” and “you make your own reality”. In life you have to decide on your dream life and work backwards from there to make it happen. And you need to find time for ocean swims every step of the way!
Objects of curiosity. Image by Peter Van Alphen