Nadeige Choplet, Ceramic Artist & Owner of Choplet Ceramic Studio
John Lego, Lawyer and Ceramic Assistant
Thibault Choplet-Lego, Raisin Connoisseur
On a recent sweltering hot night in Williamsburg, BB Kids had the chance to chat up the Choplet-Lego family about style, ceramics and being French in Williamsburg. We also got an impressive demonstration on how to play god from Papa John (no relation to the pizza franchise). Passed on to him by his grandfather, this impressive party trick involves plucking a fly from your baby pool, covering it in a mountain of sea salt and unearthing the beast 15 to 20 minutes later. Don’t expect the fly to have its former vitality, but look on amazed as it meekly wiggles back to life. Try it at your next BBQ! Now on with the interview…
BB Kids: How would you describe your family’s style?
Nadeige: Clothing-wise we’re colorful. We rarely wear all black. I like to mix and match. I look to score brands like Bottega Veneta, Rubin Chapelle, Paul Smith and Calypso at sample sales. In Williamsburg I shop at this great new boutique on Metropolitan called Elionne they have beautiful pieces, feminine and light things. For the record I like plaid shirts for guys, I think it’s sexy. John’s suits are 100% wool but he definitely take his suit off as soon as he gets home! He often wears his biker boots with his suit because he drives a Vintage BMW motorcycle to work. His trademark is definitely all the hats he owns. Thibault has a few too.
His favorite thing is to wave and scream the name pompier (french for firefighter) if a fire truck passes by and bus if a bus passes by so by now the neighborhood firemen know us and wave at us when they pass by and same happens with some of the bus drivers on Grand Street.
Being a French-American household do you keep any French traditions in the home?
Nadeige: Well, I speak French to Thibault, and John actually practices his French with him, but otherwise John always makes fun of me for not being Patriotic enough.
John: She missed Quatorze Juillet!
Nadeige: That’s true! I’m a bad French woman.
Do you have any French haunts in Brooklyn?
Nadeige: Pates et Traditions on North 6th and Havemeyer. It’s a little crêpe place, so we go there and we’re friends with the owners. But other than that we don’t really do the French hangout. When I first came here everybody that was French wanted to hang out on Mott St. at Cafe Gitane and all those places and I have to say that for me it was more about actually learning the language and hanging out with Americans.
So, in the midst of a heatwave, what do you guys wear to keep cool?
Nadeige: For me anything light and airy. Generally, what I like to do is wear anything that goes from day to night. I don’t have much time so I’ll wear something like this in the ceramics studio and if John and I have a date I’ll remove my flats and put on heels, like I did for the photo.
John: Light suits, no tie and perhaps a hat.
You have a beautiful apartment that is directly above Choplet, your ceramics studio. It was even featured on Design Sponge. Do you have any shops in Williamsburg or elsewhere in Brooklyn that you like to shop for furniture or other home items?
Nadeige: Well, harmony and textile design are very important to me. We have a lot of hand made things in our home from ceramic vases, to dishes, to chandelier and tile work….and sculpture of course. But I got the stainless steel counter tops in my kitchen done by a local kitchen equipment store and I get my kitchen tools at Whisk. We have some custom wood furniture pieces and room divider screens made by Dave Mollier.
Do you offer anything for families or kids at Choplet?
Nadeige: Actually, right now we’re running a summer camp. The kids are coming Monday through Thursday for four hours and they work on the wheel and do hand-building. There will be another in August as well. We also do kids classes on Saturday morning through the year in four week sessions.
What about the Williamsburg art community? You must have a lot of artists coming through the studio trying their hand at ceramics.
Nadeige: The artists in this community are lovely to work with. It’s always interesting to see how artists are going to incorporate what they know well—it can be textile design, computer graphics, printmaking, painting or sculpture—and integrate it to this new material. We also make a lot of work for artists and designers who come to us with specific projects and ask us to make it in ceramics for them.
What’s an ideal summer day in Brooklyn for the Choplet-Legos?
John: Let’s call it like it is; we work. The best thing is to be able to work, spend time with the kid, have a decent meal and share a few laughs with the people at the studio. Wait, look he’s coming back to life…[remember the fly trick?]
Nadeige: Oh it’s working!
Thibault: The fly!
Wow! That’s awesome. Very cool trick. So finally, what do you think makes Williamsburg a good place to raise a family?
Nadeige: For me I feel like we have the best of both worlds. Ten years ago it was this hip young place and now it’s this hip young place that’s family friendly. The community is completely diverse–socially, economically, people from different countries and ages. And now with the McCarren Park Pool, we have everything. We love it!