Laura Jouan

Teasing out the fine lines between what we expect of design and what it can be, French-born, London-based Laura Jouan stands out for her charismatic handling of graphic mediums, not least the book...

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Elements from Layering Layers, Layering Content, by Laura Jouan, exhibited at Pick Me Up, Somerset House, 2016

You work across several media, but the form of the book is a recurring interest - what is it about this form that inspires you?
I guess it would be good to start by explaining who I am. I graduated two years ago from the Royal College of Art, with an MA in Visual Communication and this is during my time there that I understood and got comfortable with work. My work has two sides, one traditional and the other, 'physical' - into the manipulation.

On the matter of the book and its form, I feel we might miscomprehend the book as a flat medium while it's actually an object. Yes, a book is compiling text and/or images on to paper (flat) but ultimately it will be manipulated (object). I'm always interested to look at the fine line between those worlds and how they can influence one another.

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New Year-New Waves, book designed and handmade by Laura Jouan

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Layering Layers, Layering Content, by Laura Jouan, exhibited at Pick Me Up, Somerset House, 2016

Tell us about a project you’ve worked on recently…
I have a bunch coming out all at once – two books and and two branding projects, three architecture projects and one fashion. They've all been interesting to work on but the one which has been – and still is – my biggest challenge is the branding for the fashion label, MOVABLES. It won't come out before September, still so much to achieve but it's coming to life. With this project, I've just been struck by the overwhelming amount of detail.

MOVABLES is a luxury brand producing leather accessories. I am designing the entire visual communication but I am also taking part in the production of the accessories. I started by working on the typeface, designed the logo and ended up designing grids for patterns which will be used for embroidery or beading.

I love this project because it's taking me out of my comfort zone, I just hope I will do right by it.

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Part of MOVEABLES identity by Laura Jouan

How do you reboot your creativity when you hit designers’ block?
You're gonna laugh – I did. I had to Google what you meant by designer's block! I don't remember if I've ever had it, I hope I'm not cursing myself by saying that... Could be the ultimate joke.

I do have 'trouble' with projects sometimes, only because I can't see the whole picture – the puzzle is incomplete and I get obsessed. If it's incomplete, something is wrong and therefore I am not doing my job right. I am also the designer who will submit only one concept to her clients.

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Book designed by Laura Jouan for Jo Dejardin

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Book designed by Laura Jouan for Jo Dejardin

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Book designed by Laura Jouan for Jo Dejardin

Who are your heroes working in design today?
I can tell my very first one. Fanette Mellier, French graphic designer. I'm French and grew up with her graphic surrounding my city, Fontenay-sous-Bois. I was passing her work every day on my way to school. My heroes of today, I don't know... There are a lot of great designers that I respect, a lot of interesting work in the field of design in general. I might struggle to find my heroes of today as I struggle to position my work in the field. It has a place but which one? 

What is the one creative tool you could not do without?
Easy. PAPER! I'll probably be this granny who has piles and piles of paper in her house... Nice right?

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Somotopia by Eryk Ulanowski, designed by Laura Jouan

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Somotopia by Eryk Ulanowski, designed by Laura Jouan

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Somotopia by Eryk Ulanowski, designed by Laura Jouan

Production and materials are central to your practice - what project of yours most embodies that interest?
Would it be weird to say that it is yet to come? Let's give it a year! One will come for the LOEWE Craft Prize, two others are personal projects that I need to get out of me. They've been in my head since RCA but failed to give it time.

Looking at my existing work, I would say the project I exhibited during RCA Show in 2014, Posterland. This project is dear to me, not least because of the symbolism (it being my last project at the RCA) and the outcome (wished I had more distance while producing it, it would have been more controlled and simpler) but also because this project was referencing my favourite essay from Ellen Lupton, The Designer as a Producer.

The project I did that maybe best balances the production-material-need is the book I did for Jo Dejardin. The book needed to be extremely simple, yet sculptural... and we had no budget!

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Posterland by Laura Jouan