Meet Ill-Studio’s General_Index, a subjective encyclopaedia of all human knowledge all in one place

Ill-Studio has always valued personal projects as much as the commissioned ones, and General_Index celebrates this explorative way of working.

29 April 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read


Since 2007, Ill-Studio has contributed to the cultural landscape in a myriad of different ways. Founded by Thomas Subreville and Leonard Vernhet, the Paris-based studio has designed clothes collections, ran record labels, designed and published art books, art directed magazines, and, not to mention, created giant art installations. Its clients include a world campaign for Nike, Louis Vuitton, Tokyo CNC Gallery, the Paris Museum of Modern Art and Converse, just to name a few. But the project that we are here to discuss today, takes a more personal tone. As a matter of fact, it’s a personal encyclopaedia.

“The idea of creating a personal encyclopaedia is something we are really interested in for a long time,” Leonard tells It’s Nice That on Ill-Studio’s latest project, General_Index. In the past, the studio has explored the theme in previous projects and information, objects and images have been classified or ordered, merging with the working processes of the creative agency. It’s an investigative mode of working that ties in closely with the cross-cultural projects Ill-Studio works on. By collating vast and diverse sets of information, it can approach each project with universality and objectivity, in turn, utilising this encyclopaedia as a gateway into any discipline.

“Ill-Studio was always about gathering references from very different fields, eras or disciplines,” adds Thomas. So, it made sense to create a sort of “index page for Ill-Studio”, its very own “shape-shifting encyclopaedia of the world.” For the past decade, personal projects have been an important aspect of the studio’s practice alongside its commissioned work. Along the way, it has learned to balance between the two, and this equilibrium has become an imperative part of the work. “Creating our own ‘label’ is a way to keep being independent and free to do things the way we want,” continues the founder.

It took a while to accurately articulate the project, but now, with the creation of General_Index, it finally found its place. “This year, we felt it was time for us to change,” Leonard adds, and from now on, the studio’s product collaborations and self-initiated projects will be released under the umbrella of General_Index. It encompasses the creative ethos of the studio’s work, capturing how “personal projects feed the commissioned ones and vice versa.” And with the creation of General_Index, the encyclopaedia allows Ill-Studio to spontaneously release new ideas and objects under one single entity.

With an extremely free process, the experimental project allows the creatives to do “whatever we want without having to wait for a specific context, season or budget,” explains Thomas. Having just launched at the end of last year in December 2019, already, it has meant the studio are working differently. A number of collaborations as well as a t-shirt design kicked off the project; a book made with Soulwax, a cultural program titled Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program created with Slam Jam, and a capsule collection with United Arrows are just a few of the creations made so far.

“We love navigating freely from one world to another,” Leonard adds on the subject, hinting to how there is much much more to come. With experimentation at the core of the practice, General_Index is the opposite of a classic brand project where products are its main output. Thomas and his colleagues don’t dispute that they still like beautiful things, but for those contributing to General_Index, the intention is cultural expression. “Design and products only help to support that narrative,” he finally goes on to say. General_Index is a subjective encyclopaedia of all human knowledge and every item we produce is the merch of one of its entries. We like to imagine the clothes and objects we create as the gift you’d get from the souvenir store after visiting a museum.”

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.

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