One-On-One With Valmont’s President And Artistic Director Didier Guillon


1Photo Credit: Valmont

Didier Guillon—President and Artistic Director of Valmont Group and Foundation Valmont—comes from a long lineage of art collectors. It therefore, makes sense that the Valmont Group and Foundation Valmont has launched its first US art exhibition, called “The Elegant Symmetry of the Gorilla.” The collection included 30 works designed and created by Mr. Didier Guillon, which ties in with the Group’s motto, “When Art Meets Beauty.” The exhibition was inspired by his visit to the Berlin Zoo last year, where he was taken and intrigued by the institution’s famous mascot, a gorilla, called Ivo. Didier Guillon’s artistic creations portray Ivo and his emotions, via various materials and medias.

The collection will make its way around the world to Munich and Berlin next year. In addition, Valmont partnered with One Drop—a non-profit organization committed to bringing a sustainable line of safe drinking water to various communities. Valmont will donate $10 to One Drop for every single one of their products sold as Saks Fifth Avenue and Spa Valmont at Plaza Athénée NYC during the months of October and November, while they will also donate 100-percent of sales of three exhibition artworks to the organization. Haute Living had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Guillon to discuss the collection, the brand, and what we can expect from Valmont in the future.

1Photo Credit: Valmont

Tell me about ‘The Elegant Symmetry of the Gorilla.’

I was inspired by Ivo the Berlin Zoo gorilla. In 2017, I visited this zoo with my youngest daughter Valentine. We were both inspired by Ivo. The most incredible gorilla we have never seen in a zoo. Valentine asked me if we can help Ivo to go out of his cage. I replied that unfortunately no. The only solution we have to help him is to transform him in pieces of art so that, he can travel around the world through itinerant exhibitions.

So, I envisioned an alternative destiny for this elegant animal with his angular and resolutely cubist silhouette. I then dreamed up a metamorphosis for him. The result is a collection of thirty artworks:

  • Sketches and collages on various types of paper displaying a multitude of visions,
  • Silhouettes created in vinyl, enriched with varied inlays,
  • A bas-relief in Murano glass,
  • Metal sculptures exhibiting numerous choices, working methods and finishes for a constantly renewed aesthetic vision


I know art is a big part of the Valmont brand. Tell me about this and why.

Within the Valmont Group, art is a true identity pillar. Today, brands can no longer be focused on themselves. They must build bridges to other universes, integrating new trends and opening up to new horizons, whether they are alien or familiar to them. Familiar, because art asserts itself as a common thread within the Guillon family after so many years. A history that has its roots in Paris, where Charles Sedelmeyer, born in Vienna in 1837, father of my great-grandmother, opened his own art gallery, in Rue de La Rochefoucauld no. 4.

A taste for the rare, the beautiful, the precious, passed on generation after generation. It is since I was 12 that I have been striding, arm in arm with my father, along the exhibitions and the great classic museums such as the famous Prado in Madrid, the Tate Gallery in London, or again, the MOMA in New York. That’s how I discovered art and its subtleties, and I began looking with different eyes at the works of the great Picasso, just to mention a few, and of the emblematic Velazquez and Goya, as well as those of the Catalan painter Antoni Tapiès.

It is this endless passion that I wish to honor through the Foundation Valmont: An entrepreneur cannot measure up in patronage unless he is passionate about the projects that he supports. Each artist, each work, is chosen with the heart and not with speculative intentions.

Photo Credit: Valmont

‘Elegant’ is not necessarily a word usually used to describe a gorilla. What was it about Ivo, the gorilla at the Berlin Zoo you saw in 2017, that drew you in?

In art the concept of paradox is a source of inspiration and the elegant gorilla is a paradox. Pacing from corner to corner in his glass cage day after day, Ivo shows off a singularly angular silhouette taking on a cubist form, which Picasso and Georges Braque could have surely identified. I was charmed by its presence, its charisma and its cubic silhouette.

1Photo Credit: Valmont

One Drop is an amazing organization. Tell us about why you selected this particular initiative to support.

One Drop was created in 2007 by Cirque du Soleil’s founder, Guy Laliberté, and their mission is access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene as a transformative force to improve the living conditions of some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.  For Valmont supporting One Drop is a beautiful way to give back to the community the water that we use in our production.

From Latin America to India, One Drop has 13 ongoing projects and an impressive reach of over one million beneficiaries.  Here is how we will support One Drop:

  1. For each Valmont product sold at Saks Fifth Avenue New York and at Spa Valmont for Plaza Athenee NYC, Valmont will proudly donate $10 to One Drop during the months of October and November 2018.
  2. Valmont will donate 100% of sales for three of the artworks from ‘The Elegant Symmetry of the Gorilla’ exhibition to One Drop.

Why was it important to begin the journey of ‘The Elegant Symmetry of the Gorilla’ in New York?

As Valentine was the first source of this exhibition, it made sense to ask her in which city she wanted to see Ivo exposed first and she answered without hesitation, New York, the city she loves.

1Photo Credit: Valmont

What can we expect from Valmont in the future, both regarding the brand itself and the brand’s tie to the art world?

Our marketing teams under Sophie’s direction continue to explore all scientific opportunities to enrich the range of increasingly effective products. Switzerland in particular by its global bio culture offers a wide variety of ingredients of natural origin.

As for the powerful link between Art and Beauty, it is expressed through exhibitions organized by the Foundation Valmont worldwide and especially since next year in the Palazzo Bonvicini* in Venice where I just made the acquisition of an apartment.

*Palazzo Bonvicini – Calle di Ca’Bonvicini – 2161/A, Quarter of Santa Croce—between Ponte dell’Agnello and Ca’Bonvicini.

For more information, please visit the brand’s website.