Best of Behance: Graphéine
What: Brand Design for Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau
Behance member since: 2009
It was a daunting challenge: come up with a fresh way to visually represent one of the world’s most iconic and beloved cities. But the French agency Graphéine recently proved itself more than up to the task, after winning a competition (among three agencies) to redesign the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau’s visual identity.
Graphéine consists of two offices, one in Paris and one in Lyon. The total number of staff varies between nine and twelve, depending on the activity, and includes creative directors, art directors, graphic designers, a motion designer, an illustrator, and office/project managers.
They describe their style as “Less is more...but always with color.”
“We don’t try to complicate things, but we don't want to impoverish them either,” says Graphéine creative director and co-founder Mathias Rabiot. “If all this can be done in joy, good humor, and poetry, all the better.”
The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau’s mission is to promote Paris as a destination, in France and abroad. But how does one find a new visual way to say “Paris”—without succumbing to clichés?
“Our first question, of course, was whether or not to use the symbol of the Eiffel Tower. It’s difficult, without the great lady, to communicate effectively about the destination of Paris to an international audience,” Rabiot says. “However, we were aware of entering a visual territory that could be considered overused, and that bordered on kitsch.”
“As with every project, we aimed at achieving something simple, meaningful, and poetic,” adds creative director and co-founder Jérémie Fesson.
The solution? Graphéine opted for simplicity and concentrated on a typographic design that suggests the Parisian skyline: the shape of the A directly evokes the Eiffel Tower. The result is a minimalist typogram that is elegant, playful, and welcoming—even the space between the letters seems to invite viewers to explore the city.
Another potential pitfall could have been to take too much of an insular approach. After all, many team members live or used to live in Paris, so together they have deep knowledge of the French capital’s spirit.
“But we’re located in Lyon, also, and our team is composed of four nationalities,” says Rabiot. “This combination of insiders and outsiders definitely influenced our vision of Paris for this project and kept us from becoming too blinkered.”
THE POWER OF ILLUSTRATION
The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau strongly supported illustration over photography for this project.
“Illustration is often seen as childish, but it’s an extremely rich visual language that expands the narrative field,” Rabiot notes.
When it comes to production tools, “Nothing is better than a piece of paper and a pencil, since the invention of clay tablets,” Rabiot says. “Today, with tablets made of titanium and glass, we’re very far from the malleable qualities of our ancestors’ clay.”
But they’ve found a contemporary solution.
“We see Adobe Illustrator CC as our modern clay,” Rabiot explains. “Creating requires constant remodeling, and we usually have three or four research files for any concept.”
To gather, share, and develop ideas, the team likes Dropbox.
“At the end of a project, we can retrace the path of ideas, like in a family tree,” Fesson says. “It’s a bit like in botany: genetic diversity delivers the best results!”
THE SPIRIT OF PARIS
Graphéine began working on the Convention and Visitors Bureau project in August 2015, just three months before the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris.
“We think that the spirit of Paris has always been an antidote to inhumanity; that’s why this work fits in a festive and joyful spirit,” Fesson says.
“The letters are dancing, sparkling; the dot on the i in Paris bounces with joy—unless it is perhaps a small moon illuminating the Parisian nights?” Rabiot adds. “This is part of the quality of this particular design: Its soberness leaves room for imagination and poetry.”
June 9, 2016