Work / Publication

“I love to manipulate books”: Graphic designer Laura Jouan’s experimental projects

The format of the book is a tried and tested formula and one that is loved by graphic designers everywhere. French designer Laura Jouan is no different. However, for Laura, her interest in the medium has led her to explore how her work can exist beyond the usual form and function of a book in a series of projects celebrating the passing of a new year.

Although currently based in Paris, Laura spent six years in London where she gained a Masters in Visual Communication from the Royal College of Art. Her interest in graphic design, however, began at the age of 16 when she first started studying creative subjects with her heart, at the time, set on a career in architecture.

“Through that course, I got an early introduction to all the fields in fine art and design,” she explains. “I loved it and I didn’t want to choose a specification. Everything was so interesting so I struggled to decide between architecture and graphic design.” When it came down to it, Laura realised graphic design was the only discipline that would keep her connected to the rest of her interests. “I love everything and never miss a chance to explore new territories but for me, graphic design is the glue between everything. I’m glad I chose that road.”

Laura first began creating projects to celebrate the new year in 2009. Having just returned from Montreal – where she was doing an internship – Laura produced a screen printed card that enabled you to build a cube that then connected an illustration. This kickstarted a fascination with graphic objects pushing her to explore other means of displaying her work in this manner.

Each object in the series follows a set of rules, including their titles which are always four words, the last word being interchangeable. For example, last year’s New Year-New Waves is followed by 2018’s New Year-New Round. The project must be relatively quick to complete and not too expensive but most importantly, it’s about the idea. “If I can’t find something that I deem tangible, I shouldn’t do it,” Laura explains.


Laura Jouan: New Year-New Wave

For New Year-New Round Laura decided to explore how the book could function in two simultaneous ways. Firstly, as a publication that presents content page-by-page but secondly, as a book that transforms into an object that reflects its contents. “I love to manipulate books and to explore the idea behind its manipulation,” she explains. “With graphics, you can tell one story while the manipulation might tell you another or emphasise the one already developed.” As a result, New Year-New Round presents Laura’s working process for a project that is due to be released this year for Beat Routes, a youth arts charity based in the UK. “I wanted to introduce the project without fully releasing it yet as we’re in the final step of the production,” Laura explains. Although not revealing the project’s full branding, the graphics of each page allow you to build its logo on the head (top edge) of the book by joining the first and last page of the book in a full circle.

Through combining experimental printing and binding techniques, Laura’s series New Year-New… elevates the book as we know it. By transforming it from something that contains content into an object where shape and form are as important as what is printed on the pages, Laura introduces an extra, and crucial, element for the delivery of her concepts.


Laura Jouan: New Year-New Round


Laura Jouan: New Year-New Round


Laura Jouan: New Year-New Round


Laura Jouan: New Year-New Round


Laura Jouan: New Year-New Round


Laura Jouan: New Year-New Round


Laura Jouan: New Year-New Round


Laura Jouan: Beat Routes