The diptyque questionnaire was based on the one completed by Marcel Proust which had become popular and out of the 34 questions, the diptyque partner answering them will choose which they wish to share on memento.
Safia Ouares is an illustrator and director with a wealth of multidisciplinary knowledge who is passionately curious about popular global decorative arts, especially those from the Mediterranean, France and Japan. A history and ENSAD (animated film) graduate and having studied plastic arts at some of the great universities in Paris, she went on to study Japanese. She learnt how to engrave in the traditionally artisanal way and added screenprinting to her list of skills. Learning and doing are two parts of the same intention that animate one movement of the hand. She has achieved a lot during an international career that spans France, where she lives, Japan and the United States. She says she loves nothing more during a project than the compulsion of materials and archives that take her creativity to an illustration that tells a story that encompasses a body of knowledge. As a musician and dancer too, her search for the graphic pace of a drawing is based on balancing a simple sharpness of line with a profusion of details. The drawing for Tempo, which celebrates diptyque’s 50th anniversary, was destined to be by her hand: a visual journey that shows the passage of Life and Evolution to express the unfolding of time in life: “This project bowled me over intellectually-speaking, what I learnt about the emergence of life on earth when exploring the creative idea of time fundamentally changed my relationship to the world.”
1. If you were a diptych – God forbid, which images or allegories would you choose for the front panel (closed) and for the two open sections inside?
I would choose an apple tree as an axis mundi for the closed front panel and Eve facing the snake for the two inner sections .
2. Which period in the history of mankind – a « faraway land » in Racine’s words – would you like to visit as an invisible tourist?
I would go to a huge ceremony or ritual led by a high priestess in an ancient city on the shores of the Mediterranean, then I would go to the baptism of the princess or coronation of the young prince and taste everything served during the banquet, despite being invisible.
3. Your favourite dish
It’s not really a dish, it’s a seafood platter!
4. Your favourite smell
5. Your Proustian madeleine
A Makroud, a pastry my granny made for EVERY occasion – its very concept is enduringly mysterious to me.
6. If you were a musical instrument, you’d be a…
A transverse flute.
7 . The creature you find the most touching?
The donkey, probably because of films like Balthazar (Robert Bresson) and Pinocchio.
8. Synesthesia: do you associate any shapes, colours, scents and sounds together ?
Yes everything strikes a chord in me and I like to feel the connections between them. That’s why multi-disciplinarity is important to me.
9. Which quality do you have that has done you harm?
My demanding nature (a form of naivety)
10. And which character defect do you have that has done you good?
My idealism (another form of naivety)
11. To be absolutely true to yourself must you forget yourself totally?
I don’t believe in the absolute other than when it regards perfumery of course!
13. What do you like doing so much that you lose track of time?
Classic dance lessons, when I’m doing this my mind goes completely blank. It makes me happy and pulls me away from the little worries of daily life at the same time.
14. Name a book that opened up the world to you and made your spirits soar?
Alice in Wonderland. Thanks to this book I understood that the majority is not always right.
15. Music that is like Paradise Lost to your ears…
Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe.
16. Three must-see films
Blade Runner (Ridley Scott), Casanova (Federico Fellini) and Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola)
17. Which painting best captures fragrances – in your opinion?
Probably Van Gogh’s painting of Irises, it smells of the earth.
18. Which sculptor or sculpture would you choose for your imaginary museum?
Rodin’s Balzac: Study of the dressing gown; I would never have imagined that a plaster dressing gown could stir up so many emotions in me. When I saw it, it felt like Balzac was right in front of me.
20. Who inspires you (past or present, real or fictional)?
Marylin Monroe and Cassius Clay
23. Is it a big deal not to be loved as long as you love?
It’s a bit boring not to be loved in return, if you listen to love songs they’re often sad, almost desperate in fact, and the same goes for love in literature, poetry and on stage. Mutual love seems to be the exception in my eyes!
24. Favourite landscape?
In the ocean near a coral reef, wearing a mask and snorkel.
25. If life is a dream, which reality would you like to wake up in?
I would wake up to the singing of birds in a room with creaky floors and huge windows overlooking a park full of deer and peacocks. Statues would dot the shaded pathways snaking their way between ponds and play hide and seek with the bushes and serve as perches for passing birds.
26. Do you have a work motto that is both your compass and your guiding light?
“Being tossed by the wind is the destiny of a dead leaf”
27. Does creativity rule your life?
Yes, this is the path I have chosen.
28. Present giving: the act of sharing ; that lovely expression « making a present… » : what do you like to give?
I like to offer things that people don’t normally give and that remind me of them nevertheless.
30. What is craftsmanship in modern times?
It’s knowing how to make the connection between the heritage of a know-how that may have ancestral gestures and new technology that can boost the productivity level of specific stages in order to remain competitive. A real challenge ! It requires great passion and humility.
31. Putting economic and social status issues aside for a moment, how can exceptional, high quality creativity (know-how, finishing details, research etc.) be relevant in this day and age in your opinion?
They testify to the very uniqueness of the human race, they distinguish us from our cousins, the primates. Poetry and the arts in general seem to me to be the only valid reason for extra-terrestrials to want to meet us!
33. Which is your favourite diptyque fragrance (Eau or candle)?
I am not a one-perfume woman, it all depends on how I feel in a given moment. I love Tam Dao, the woody notes for their depth, the citrus for their sparkle and that twist of sweetness, I’m a big fan of the soliflores (single notes) of Rose, so sensual, and Neroli, more childlike, it all depends… Tempo is nevertheless my favourite at the moment.
34. Describe diptyque in a few words?
A family with heart, a big house where my friends and I feel so welcomed.