Paris-based graphic design studio Kiösk was created after Martin Plagnol and Elsa Aupetit started working together at an arts residency at Mains d'Œuvres, located in the Saint Ouen suburb of Paris. The pair initially met while studying at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and decided to put a name to this working configuration after their collaboration at the arts space.
“I really enjoy the infinite possibility of graphic design as a medium but also its economy of means. We both also enjoy the narrative aspects that graphic design conveys in the objects we make,” Martin tells It’s Nice That. Elsa adds that, currently, one of the most exciting aspects of graphic design is working with methods that they haven’t tried before like printing and manufacturing.
The studio’s work is highly referential, combining visual ideas from things like everyday objects with images that they have accumulated over time. “Reference and diversion are often used in our working process. It’s like a game between us, we like to invoke everyday objects. This guides us to design familiar and particular shapes at the same time, which is the goal of graphic design, in our opinion,” Martin says. “Collection and re-appropriation of images are our favourite working methods. We accumulate a lot of images in parallel with a project that are directly related to it or not. Over time, we are increasingly able to integrate this research into our work,” adds Elsa.
The studio prefers projects that allow the two to collaborate with others, a process that usually results in new and unexpected “alterity of shapes.” For Martin, the process goes beyond the realm of their own tastes, pushing ideas further than what they would personally find appealing. “To start a project, to appropriate it, we often start with an inspiration from everyday life, from an object or a given period. For us, graphic design is part of everyday life as well as of its time,” Elsa describes.
The studio details a recent project that it is particularly fond of, where it was responsible for the visual identity for the Contemporary Art Centre of Ivry – Crédac. The project saw the studio designing the centre’s website, editorial objects, and signage as well as crafting a dedicated typeface. “The visual identity project is based on the design of a font that is inspired by the architecture of the place and the exhibition spaces that are bathed in light,” the studio notes. “The Lux typeface is imagined as writing that was adapted to these bright spaces – former production workshops. It cites the history of typographic techniques and replicates the optical corrections applied in the past to compensate the light from photocomposition.” The studio notes that these corrections become shapes in the visual identity and that the idea was to play around with different scales of the work to reveal the specific design features of the letters.
Another project titled ABC of Things is a research project that the studio has carried out since 2017. “We try to forge links between image and typography through the collection, re-use and re-appropriation of images. Writing’s shape comes from the observation of the environment and it is this dialectic that we try to question by creating editorial objects,” the studio notes. One silkscreened-poster from this project depicts silhouettes of objects that correspond to each letter of the alphabet, set in white blocks against a cyan background, opposite the object itself.
In the near future, the studio is continuing its collaboration with Crédac, working on catalogues for exhibitions that reflect on the current situation. It is also planning to focus more of its time on its publishing house, Dumpling Books, which first came to life as a result of the ABC of Things project. “We are initiating new collaborations and more personal editorial projects. We can’t wait to move further to see where this takes us,” the studio concludes.
Kiösk: Le Crédac, visual identity 01 (Copyright © Kiösk, Elsa Aupetit and Martin Plagnol, 2021)
About the Author
Alif joined It's Nice That as an editorial assistant from September to December 2019 after completing an MA in Digital Media at Goldsmiths, University of London. His writing often looks at the impact of art and technology on society.