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Interview with Artists Antoine+Manuel

Antoine+ManuelGraphic Design Studio
Since 1993, fashion stylist Antoine Audiau and product designer Manuel Warosz have been working together to develop a new style in the graphic arts, referred to abroad as “French Touch.” Antoine+Manuel each implement their own visual style to create dreamlike, surreal universes that blend sensation, emotion, touch and visual experimentations. Their unique aesthetic has garnered much acclaim, leading to collaborations with numerous companies and institutions, such as Christian Lacroix, Collection Lambert Avignon, La Comédie de Clermont, Sèvres, Chanel, Cartier and Grand Palais.

Dorothée Charles: Could you tell us a bit about Antoine+Manuel studio?

Antoine+Manuel: We met at school, became a couple, and after our studies started working together as graphic designers in fashion in 1993. As we are also passionate about design and contemporary art, seeing no boundaries between the two, we’ve explored various disciplines, always looking for new approaches to our skills. Graphic design and type design was a starting to expand into the realms of furniture, scenography, small architecture, video projection…
Recent exhibitions of our work include: State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Grand Palais and Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, Walker Art Center Minneapolis, Villa Noailles in Hyères and Hong Kong Heritage Museum.


DC: The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York commissioned you to produce a logo and a visual identity for the Oui Design program. How did you approach that project ?

A+M: We’ve been really fond of design in general, since we were teenagers, so we were very excited by the Oui Design project. We didn’t want to go too quickly in an obvious and cliché direction. To be honest, it’s difficult to answer the question because we didn’t really do extensive research. One day I took my yellow notebook, I had a vision in the morning, I drew the logo almost exactly as it appears in the final version.
As it seemed difficult to have this approach accepted, we were asked to make three proposals. So we had fun drawing some more. We tried different directions, from onomatopoeia or pronunciation to object letters. Eventually the first draft was chosen, obviously.


DC: Could you explain the references you drew on while making this logo?

A+M: There aren’t precise references, more intuitions I would say, sensations we wanted to express: landscape, delicious, technical, signage, humour, materialism, mobile.
We also thought these two-dimensional letters could become an actual object and we were working on it with a French company. And maybe adding the fourth dimension to it, with low-tech short animated images.


DC: How did you decide on the textures and colors you used for the Oui design logo?

A+M: We can only explain it in retrospect, because we didn’t really think about it at the time. It  reminds me of Gaetano Pesce experiments with plastic materials, ‘sucre d’orge’ candies, playful modeling paste, mixing thick paint. Maybe I wanted to express my early experiences as a child designer. We wanted to use bleu/blanc/rouge in a twisted way. Bright, happy and symbolic, sweet and national colors.


DC: What are your next projects ?

A+M: We absolutely love New York, which we consider our second home, and we’re excited to use the Oui design opportunity to work on related projects.
These days, we have some exciting projects. A big exhibition, where we can use our multiple skills (scenography, drawing, painting, animated images, typography, monumental video projections). We also just started to work for Villa Noailles, a patrimonial modernist villa in Hyères, converted into an art center, this is a very creative and open project. We also work for luxury brands like Chanel and contemporary public theatres and dance centers.