Dystopian narratives, nostalgia and love reoccur in multidisciplinary graphic designer Basile Fournier’s portfolio
Through a rigorous and meticulous approach to design, encompassing CGI, photography, editorial design and more, Basile interrogates our relationship with technology.
Basile Fournier’s path to graphic design was set when, at around the age of ten, while tagging under a bridge, he met a fellow graffiti artist. Basile, who grew up in a small village in the south of France, was obsessed with graffiti and spent much of his time reading magazines about street and hip-hop culture. “I remember asking him what job would allow me to do graffiti for the rest of my life, and he told me that it was graphic designer,” Basile recalls. And so that was that. He pursued the medium throughout high school, then spent some time at Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg and eventually found his way to ECAL, from which he recently graduated with a bachelor in graphic design. A whole host of internships, including ones at Printed Matter, Golgotha and Bureau Borsche have helped him along the way too. “Each and every one of those experiences taught me something different and helped me to have a professional approach to the graphic design world,” he says, meaning that today, despite having not been out of university for long, Basile is already a technically and conceptually accomplished designer, with a portfolio that bears the hallmarks of a practitioner well beyond his years.
GalleryBasile Fournier: New Tendency (Copyright © Basile Fournier, 2021)
Basile’s time at ECAL has played a major role in shaping his meticulous, technical approach to design – it’s a school famed as a bastion of the Swiss style while also nurturing some of the most boundary-pushing and cutting edge creativity, after all. However, processes and techniques aside, Basile says the greatest thing the school taught him was to work hard. “ECAL taught me how to be rigorous,” he explains, “how to not be overwhelmed by working under pressure, and how to work on a lot of projects at the same time. And now that I’m freelance, it’s basically my daily routine.”
Although his degree is in graphic design, Basile’s portfolio is multidisciplinary, featuring photography and CGI alongside more traditional design practices. CGI, in particular, lends his work a certain aesthetic; it’s crisp, clean, precise and detail-oriented. “There are also themes that I like to explore within my work and through personal projects like our relation to technology, or feelings like nostalgia and love,” Basile adds. “I like to create beauty in something dark or frightening, like dystopian narratives.” In this sense, his practice borrows from the Japanese concept of ‘mono no aware’ which denotes sensitivity and empathy towards ephemera, giving his work a deeper meaning – an awareness of the transience of all things and comfort in this impermanence.
It’s Nice That: When and why did your fascination with the relationship between technology and humans begin?
Basile Fournier: I don’t really recall when, but I was always kind of fascinated by science fiction in movies or books. I think the relationship between technology and humans is one where you can imagine and tell a lot of stories. Furthermore, I believe that there is an interesting impact when technology meets humans, and it is something that I want to explore deeply within my work.
INT: You work a lot with CGI, what about this medium interests you? And how do you see it impacting more traditional graphic design and photography in the future?
BF: I really like CGI as a tool to create narratives. As I was saying before, I like to tell stories through my projects, and CGI is a great tool to express ideas and feelings that didn’t exist before. It is limitless in a way. I also love the fact that it is highly technical, and I believe that it’s good to have technical skills as a designer.
One of my goals is to really incorporate CGI into my graphic design projects. I think I could create powerful images and objects by combining those two worlds. But I still think that it is one medium among others, it’s a tool. I don’t think it will replace photography, because photography has its own essence that CGI could hardly replace. Another thing I think is important is that art direction should be the sharpest tool in your mind while creating a project. No matter the tool or medium you will use, art direction should be the main focus from the beginning to the end of a project.
“Art direction should be the sharpest tool in your mind while creating a project.”Basile Fournier
I also like the technical challenge that CGI software creates. There is always new software or plugins that I want to try and use. It’s so satisfying to overcome a challenge that you had with software, sometimes after days.
INT: You also work across typography, editorial, photography and more. What are the benefits of being a multidisciplinary creative?
BF: I think each medium should serve a specific purpose. Knowing what to use for each and every project is, for me, the idea of a good designer. Knowing what you want to express through one medium is what I’m striving for.
I think the more mediums you know and the more tools you have in your toolbox, the more versatile you can be, and you can respond to a broader need of creative services. It is important because it gives you freedom, and also varies the projects that you work on. I love to work on different projects at the same time, that way I’m never really bored, and learning every day.
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Basile Fournier: Marine Serre, Core (Copyright © Basile Fournier, 2021)
INT: Your bachelor’s project looked into the concept of mind uploading, what is this and how did your project explore it?
BF: My bachelor’s project was called Read only Memory, and it was indeed about mind uploading. Mind uploading is basically the transfer of the content of your brain into a computer or a digital entity. Read only Memory is a speculative and fictitious design project that describes the concept of mind uploading through photographic images of landscapes taken by my grandfather, that symbolise his memories. It takes the form of a short film, intending to imagine how the transfer of memory could be created and transformed into digital data where one could re-experience it endlessly. It depicts how the transfer is potentially made through scans and invented machines that can reinterpret and recreate the memory into a digital realm.
The essence of the film touches on a point that I really like; using technology to generate feelings, mixing new tools to create powerful images, using corporate imagery and dystopian narratives as an influence, and finally linking it to something close to my heart, like my family.
INT: If you had to pick a favourite project, which one are you most proud of and why?
BF: I think my favourite one is the one I’m working on right now, a more artistically driven project. I mean, it’s always like this, I love some of my past projects of course, but I’m always looking to what’s next, it’s so exciting to work on something during nighttime, it’s your project and nobody knows about it.
“Each medium should serve a specific purpose. Knowing what to use for each and every project is, for me, the idea of a good designer.”Basile Fournier
With my past projects, it’s hard to pick one because it’s the mix of everything that makes what I’m doing today. Each project played a little role in building the identity that I have today.
There is one recent project that I’m quite proud of though, it’s my collaboration with the fashion designer Marine Serre. I’ve been doing the graphics and assets for both of her last campaigns, and I created a book that archives all of her previous collections called Core. For me, it was an amazing experience to work closely with her, and I also had a lot of creative freedom. The idea was to really make a book from scratch, from the initial ideas and sketches to going to the printer and the final delivery of the limited series object. I’m still working with her and I love that kind of long relationship – when a client becomes a collaborator.
INT: What are your plans now you’ve graduated?
BF: Work work work work work! I’m working on several projects with clients that are going to take quite some time, and also some big personal projects that I’ve been working on for a long time now will come out within the next year. I also keep pushing CGI a lot, every day.
Otherwise, I might go to New York for a while to feel a new vibe, and finally, keep making work that matters, and keep pushing and striving to do the things I love to do.
Copyright © Basile Fournier, 2021
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.