We catch up with Paris-based studio Zoo on a year evolving and nourishing its practice

Founded by Baptiste de l’Espinay, Julie Galand and Valentine Thébeaut, the studio has been reviewing its development strategy and working on a plethora of new and exciting projects.

Date
26 March 2021
Reading Time
3 minute read

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Zoo continuously pops up on It’s Nice That, and with good reason. The Paris-based studio – founded by Baptiste de l’Espinay, Julie Galand and Valentine Thébeaut – has long impressed with its mix of print, websites, signage and various other intelligent (and well-executed) outputs. Just over a year ago, the studio also released a global rebrand and editorial system for La Lettre de Musician, a monthly music magazine complete with an updated, fresh and dynamic identity. “Since then,” Baptiste tells It's Nice That, “we’ve worked on some new and interesting projects, most of them have been impacted by the health crisis, delayed or cancelled, and deadlines have been (very) extended. Like many people, it has completely changed the way we work. But business seems to be picking up over the last few months.”

Transitioning into a more global mindset, Zoo now strives to take on a broader mix of projects, whether that’s brand identities, rebrands or collaborations in the world of culture. As such, the team has gone on to develop two large and notable projects over the last year including a campaign for a contemporary art exhibition with the EDF Group Foundation, as well as the development of the visual identity for the National Renaissance Museum, located in the Château d’Écouen, north of Paris. What’s more, Zoo has continued its steady and proficient editorial design work, dabbling in art books, collections, magazines and reviews. “We always want to push projects further by developing more unique, precise, efficient and sustainable communication tools and strategies,” continues Baptiste, “always taking into account current issues – economy of means, ecological awareness and a sustainable approach.”

It was after the three of them met while attending different schools in Paris, Strasbourg and Rotterdam that they came to form such a collaborative and forward-thinking studio in 2014. They’d all initially worked in various renowned agencies in each country before joining forces in Paris, with Marine Stephan joining the cohort in 2018 as the editorial and type designer. “Many young talents have gone through the agency since the beginning,” says Julie. “It is a real desire on our part to increase collaborations according to the projects – graphic designers, type designers, illustrators and photographers.” So, for the last seven years, the studio has been working intensively on a plethora of projects, and in all honesty, they’ve had little time off and have become quite exhausted. “The crisis has forced us to take a step back from all this and review our development strategy,” Julie says.

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Zoo: Amos. Photography by Motoki Nakatani (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

This new direction involves a big change in attitude when it comes to client work. Zoo has always proceeded intuitively, tailoring each project and brief to the demands of the task at hand, but now – more than ever – the team wants to work with clients who “have things to say and strong convictions,” says Valentine. “We are convinced that a project becomes interesting when there is a real stake and strong content. And we want to continue working in a wide variety of fields!” Not only this but, because the team is travelling less and meeting fewer people, they’ve taken time out to “nourish” their creativity. This involves finding new ways of pushing and “feeding” themselves visual and conceptually. This is even more relevant since they can no longer rely on spontaneous encounters, new discoveries from trips and shows, holidays or sports and weekend outings.

Despite all of the obvious challenges, Zoo has successfully managed to adapt to the circumstances and thus produce a range of impeccable new works. This includes the global rebrand and typeface development for Amos Sport Business School which has 12 campuses in Europe, plus a large network of international partnerships. Opting for a corporate typeface named Amos Display, the studio became inspired by the movements of athletes, “with some slanted letters (‘A’, ‘M’, ‘W’) and a playful set of ‘O’s which includes the ball, the planet and the double ‘O’ that is injected in the logos,” says Baptiste. There’s also a new system of logos, a national campaign, customised “goodies”, brochures and stationary.

Other projects include the ongoing design of large-scale exhibition Courants Verts at Fondation Groupe EDF in Paris; the continued visual identity development for Château d’écouen, at the Musée National de la Renaissance; and the development of Architectures Cree magazine. To say that Zoo keeps itself busy doesn’t quite cut it, and the studio’s plans for the next year – featuring myriad new and exciting developments – will only further prove just that.

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Zoo: Amos (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Amos (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Amos. Photography by Motoki Nakatani (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Amos (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Courants Verts (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Courants Verts (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Cree. Photography by Motoki Nakatani (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Cree. Photography by Motoki Nakatani (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Cree. Photography by Motoki Nakatani (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Cree. Photography by Motoki Nakatani (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Cree. Renaissance (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Cree. Renaissance (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Cree. Renaissance. Photography by Motoki Nakatani (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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Zoo: Amos (Copyright © Zoo, 2021)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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