New World: Creating for Tomorrow is a programme of free, hands-on virtual sessions hosted by Today at Apple and It’s Nice That from 1 – 29 March. Building on our New World partnership in 2021, we’ll be hosting a series of Virtual Studio sessions with artists and designers who use creativity to present their ideals for the future.
The word often used to describe the practice of Paris-based photographer Cécilia Poupon is “otherworldly”. It’s certainly suitable, especially for how Cécilia’s lens renders objects with an unearthly quality, but it’s a slightly contradictory description once you understand the process behind-the-scenes. Despite its precision, the photographer’s work is all created in-camera, mostly using objects we all have lying around the house. It’s Cécilia’s ability to utilise creativity in imaginative, world-building ways, that encouraged It’s Nice That and the Today at Apple team to collaborate with her as part of our newly launched New World: Creating for Tomorrow series, as well as a driving factor as to why we’ve created the identity in partnership with the photographer.
A collaboration between It’s Nice That and Today at Apple, New World: Creating for Tomorrow, is a series of virtual studio sessions exploring how creativity can aid us in building a better tomorrow. Each session features a creative guest sharing a teachable moment from their practice to attendees at home, connecting the creative community through discussion and hands-on creation. However in spanning a variety of disciplines, such as illustration and VR, to collage and typography, we needed a way to visualise the future-facing sentiment behind our session leaders’ work. Cécilia’s abstract photographic work – the focus of her very own session on how to create hyperreal visuals within still life photography – offered the answer, creating a series of visuals representing a yet to be defined “New World”.
To begin creating the unidentifiable objects you will spot across our identity for 2022, Cécilia began researching into various materials or textures. Answering our need to visualise a New World, the first step was to look for “materials that were unrecognisable,” Cécilia tells It’s Nice That. Deciding to create these objects herself, this phase involved comparing and contrasting materials which offered a flexibility to work with in-camera, “so we could shape them into something otherworldly”.
Inspired by textures often used in building settings as well as contemporary sculptures, the photographer pushed her own experimentation at this stage also. For instance, the final images use crayons melted into a floral-like cluster, or expansion foam (the kind you’d usually use in plumbing) spray painted to appear as if an artefact. In other instances “there was a lot of cooking involved and some good surprises,” says the photographer. Take the glossy nugget which spins in our final identity – it's actually melted caramel, as well as spray painted chocolate and burnt, bubbled sugar also making an appearance. Such experimentation was encouraged, not only to push the final result, but to also mirror the inspiration we aim to evoke in New World attendees to try something new within our hands-on sessions. The final photographs also reflect what you may be able to create in Cécilia’s session, all created at-home using her iPhone 13.
These final images also needed to be abstract for the variety of executions in which they would then live. In most instances they create an atmospheric, ever morphing background to our identity, meaning Cécilia “made sure the main interest in the picture is an abstract shape or mesmerising texture, as that way it can stay abstract and relevant, even as a background.” That being said, her work immediately draws a viewer’s attention for each object’s distinctiveness. As the photographer describes: “I really wanted to create a feeling of seeing an artefact or relic of an unknown world, like in the museums or in a book, which is also why I used simple backgrounds. I like that the objects can stand out on their own as well.” This attention to detail links closely to Cécilia’s wider practice as, “One thing that I always try to convey in my work is to give a ‘visual ASMR’ experience to the images,” she says. “I truly hope it shows through these images also.”
The final product of the photographer’s still-life experimentation acts as a visual embodiment of It’s Nice That and Today at Apple’s Creating for Tomorrow sessions. While you might initially believe Cécilia’s imagery to be created using overly technical rendering, it is the result of excitable experimentation, a wish to try something new and in fact achievable, at-home creativity too.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.