Super Terrain’s varied influences have led to it coining a new term to describe its approach: “We like to think of systems and play with them, to perturb them, in a way we are inspired at the same time by Swiss and Dutch traditional graphic design, and also by DIY culture,” explains Quentin Bodin. “So we can say we are 'Suisso-Punk'.”
Having formed six years ago, the studio’s work has grown to span multiple disciplines, from posters to publishing to installations. The team – which consists of Quentin, Lucas Meyer and Luc de Fouquet – met whilst at EESAB in Rennes and continues to work together despite living in cities at opposite ends of the country (Marseille and Nantes).
In particular, Super Terrain is developing an interesting client base right now, one that is allowing it to produce work across a number of formats that complements its personal interests. “We mainly design visual identities for cultural institutions such as theatres, arts biennales, arts centres, architects etc,” says Lucas. “Actually we are looking for collaboration where there is a place for experimentation. And we try to keep the balance between commissioned works and self-initiated projects. We do some artistic installations, we create situations including other peoples during residencies or exhibitions.”
One thing that is clear is that Super Terrain is a champion of the poster, believing it to still be just as relevant now as in its heyday. “The poster is the best format, even if today motion is coming out, the poster stays the most direct way to diffuse an image in a public space, to give it to everyone,” says Quentin.
Luc agrees, finding it an important part of the process when working on broad projects for brands: “We always start design with a poster because it’s also a good synthesis of what has to be developed for a visual identity,” he says.
When creating posters the studio also has a specific way of working that combines its respective strengths. “On our posters we can see that part of our creative process is based on layers, we did a lot of screen printing together and we know that is part of our common matrix. We also love to think things through in series,” explains Luc.
As mentioned, its style can vary significantly, but one thing that is present across much of its work is neon. “It might be related to our tools, we work all day long on computers in the RVB space to design some printed matter…So it’s a way to keep this intensity in colours from computer to paper,” says Lucas.
“It’s often printed matter, and we like to play with possibilities of screen printing to get really strong colours,” adds Luc. “Personally when I was young I found cities really grey and gloomy, so I always wanted to put intensity into it, and colour is a powerful tool to do that.”
Aside from commercial work, Super Terrain also produced an extremely interesting personal editorial project based on Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: "an artist book we designed and published last October," explains Lucas. "In this dystopia, books – being the objects of resistance to the tyranny of happiness – are forbidden, tracked down and burned by the firemen. This special edition appears black, as if carbonised, revealing its visionary content when it is exposed to heat from a flame or hand,” he continues. “A sensitive link is drawn between the book as a material and the content of the novel. The paperback goes back to black as it cools down. In the time of ubiquitous digital and screens, this edition embodies the questions raised by Ray Bradbury on the role of memory and culture in our society.”
The project itself was a labour of love, and one that involved much time and effort to work on alongside their commissions. Despite this, it is clearly something the studio enjoyed, and looks back on fondly. “It took more than four years to release it, that was hard,” says Luc. “But overall, it’s the best example of how graphic design can be truly meaningful.”
Super Terrain: TU Nantes
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.