For the past three years, the Quebec-based design agency Paprika has annually collaborated with Festival Art Souterrain, Chonométrie. A major project for the studio, the key challenge for such an ongoing project lies in the constant renewal of the design system and concept. Joanne Lefebvre, president of Paprika, tells It’s Nice That: “From year to year, the given theme must be reflected in the campaign and serve as a cornerstone for the programming and the creative process of the invited artists.”
An agency which is over 25 years old, Paprika sees its discipline as not only graphic design, but also space design, architecture, publishing and object design. Honing its craft over time, founder Joanne Lefebvre and Louis Gagnon see “graphic design as the gateway to the client’s project,” and implement this in the strategy. Working on projects overlapping the arts, hotels, concept-stores, architectural firms, retail, high-end projects and more, the studio prides itself on being fluid and multi-disciplinary. It also launches an annual scholarship to a graphic design graduate from the Université du Québec à Montréal who joins the team for a three month scholarship.
When it comes to its style, Joanne explains, “Paprika is not interested in trends and ‘the taste of the day’. We prefer to work with emotion and graphic sensitivity." Concept-driven through and through, the studio makes a point of avoiding “ready-made recipes” and instead, works collaboratively with a client on a flexible methodology, tailored to the brief. When it came to the latest identity for Festival Art Souterrain, the studio came up with a symbolic narrative in the form of a ripening banana. “The ripening of the banana appears as a will to capture the notion of time passing,” she explains. “The banana becomes a unit of measurement: its random ripening is visible by a change of colour.”
By using this banal and anecdotal object in this way, the identity questions our relationship to time and the notion of expiration dates. The banana is presented on a metallic silver background, hinting to the scientific precision of chronometry instruments (the science of time measurement or time keeping). An apt visual metaphor as the festival “wanted to question this society that imposes ever faster productivity which devastates ecosystems.”
When devising the concept, Paprika work on several creative avenues before landing on one. Joanne points out how it is usually the most conceptual route which is chosen, and with the banana, it was the paradox between the exact chronometric science and the arbitrary ripening of a banana which pushed the idea through. “This paradox has a lot to say about our relationship with time in our contemporary era,” adds the co-founder. And it doesn’t hurt that it also packs a visual punch too.
In the last year, Paprika has been working with international publishing houses, including those in London and Paris, as remote and collaborative working becomes more prominent. “The work is no longer confined to one region or one city,” Joanne finally goes on to say, “we have reached a momentum where our partners and clients can be from all origins, located all over the world, all giving rise to very fruitful and positive collaborations.”
Paprika: Chronometrie (Copyright © Paprika, 2021)
About the Author
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.