Hugo Blanzat’s design process involves custom fonts, plenty of research and “a lot of mess”
Under the moniker of Studio Hugo Blanzat, the designer – with new teammate Victor Gaymarina – has worked on a medley of projects across wayfinding, publication design and typography.
- Ayla Angelos
- 19 November 2021
“I don’t like binary ways of seeing, I think nuance is important,” says Hugo Blanzat. An art director and graphic designer, it was while completing his MA from École nationale supérieur des Arts Décoratif (EnsAD Paris) that Hugo first had this realisation. In his final year, to be exact, he began working as a freelancer for a handful of clients and used this as an opportunity to go against the somewhat “utopian and theoretical” educational structure he found himself in. As such, the promising designer started taking on a bundle of commissions, the big and the small, before renting a desk in 2015 to work on his own terms – thus forming Studio Hugo Blanzat. “Freelancing is good, it’s still your work, but it’s not totally your vision, your decision or your thought. It’s important to jump on your own business”
The same year, Hugo decided to launch Télévision with Boris Camaca and Matthieu Rocolle – a fashion publication that looks at various subjects from the viewpoint of photography and graphic design. The magazine has been on a short hiatus, with the last issue released in 2019 just before the pandemic, with past contributors including Thomas Albdorf, Boris Camaca, Lucas Chanoine, Valentin Herfray among others. While taking a break from the publication, the founders decided to put all their efforts into their own projects. But that doesn’t mean they’re not still good friends, nor that Télévision is to cease printing. “We’re actually talking about a new issue,” says Hugo. Of late, two key highlights of Hugo's have been working with Issey Miyake Parfums and designing a wayfinding project for a theatre. “One year ago,” he continues, “I decided to hire a designer and assistant art director, Victor Gaymarina, who joined the studio as a talented designer. It was a new turning point. My design practice evolved, I discovered new things and it’s been stimulating. I’m more than happy he joined the studio and involved him in this story.”
Under his studio, Hugo and Victor work across a medley of different projects, particularly in the realms of fashion art direction. “There are no rules,” he says. The studio onboards anything from niche technical publications to graphic design research projects; whatever it is, they hope to disrupt the design status quo, ask questions and whip up a few recipes or two along the way. “If I were to become a three-star Michelin graphic designer, I guess I would like to work with a perfectly executed menu,” says Hugo. “But, I also want to cook for a local ephemera street food restaurant and serve something more intuitive, experimental and incisive, without taking six months to reflect on the menu, and without a squad of 30 people.” Metaphor aside, Hugo is inherently business-minded when it comes to the workings of his studio.
When approaching a brief, Hugo admits that he’s a man who “makes a lot of mess” before cleaning up – he likes to draw lots in his notebook and researches a-plenty before finalising the idea. This works in the studio’s favour, though, as they pay close attention to the brief at hand. Coupled with a drive to make custom fonts and lettering – “the choice of the typeface is very important” – as well as a bespoke graphic vocabulary, the outcome is usually immensely personalised and catered to the client. One of the studio’s biggest projects to date is an exhibition design for the V&A museum, where Hugo and Victor have been put in charge of the 2D design alongside JA Projects. It’s still in the works, but what we do know is that it’s a retrospective of the art of menswear, called Fashioning Masculinities. “Our main concept is revolving around the creation of a bespoke titling typeface family, which is evolving throughout the sections of the exhibition,” he says. “At the main entrance, a special display will show you the changing form of the typeface, in a direct answer to the changing form of masculinities.”
Hugo admits that the past year has been “special” when it comes to other work, notably in the sense of Covid-19. But it hasn’t stopped him or Victor doing what they love and, if anything, it’s allowed them the time to focus on smaller projects that share the same ethos and ideals – like a logotype for the identity of a natural brewery, a small book they designed for Les chichas de la pensée, and a symbol designed for sustainable fashion brand Rombaut. As for the future, Hugo plans to launch the website to house all of his studio’s endeavours. “We’ve never had one and it’s started to harm the studio and the projects we have done,” he says. “We’re also thinking about a publishing practice, a platform through which we can produce objects and books, but also posters, typefaces and small objects – functional or decorative.” There will also be a new Télévision and Hugo hopes to build or buy a house, “the perfect place to make pasta every Sunday.”
Studio Hugo Blanzat: Télévision Online. My first human, Photography: Boris Camaca, Styling: Natacha Voranger (Copyright © Studio Hugo Blanzat, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.