Entrevue avec Experimental Jetset

Jonathan Prêteux: Paul Rand said « When you say graphic design, everybody has a definition which doesn’t correspond to yours », so what is your definition of graphic design? And what’s its principal functionality?

Experimental Jetset« Turning language into objects ». That’s our definition of graphic design. We just came up with it, five minutes ago.
The more we think about it, the more we like this definition. There’s an interesting tension between language and objects; the tension between the immaterial and the material. As graphic designers, you are always in the middle between those two; between nothingness and thingness.
By turning language in objects, you are in fact turning language into an environment. This enables us (as society) to live inside language. And maybe that’s the functionality of graphic design. To enable society to live inside language.
Language is living inside of us (inside our heads). So maybe the function of graphic design is to reverse this situation: to make us live inside language.

JP: What is your process when you work on a new project? Have you a visual idea before you begin with it?

EJ: We have quite a traditional way of designing: we fully believe in the ‘problem/solution’ model. This means that you see the assignment as a problem, a riddle, that somehow has to be solved. It is just like a puzzle: the answer is already enclosed in the problem. You just have to search for the solution, to solve the puzzle.
This is a very old-fashioned way of looking at design, and it’s also criticized a lot. In fact, we fully understand this criticism: we realize that there is no such thing as a perfect solution, and that every solution automatically leads to other problems. So in a way, the ‘problem/solution’ model is a tragic model. But we see a strange kind of beauty in this tragic model. We feel it’s a model that needs to be explored, time after time.

JP: I think you know Lavoisier’s sentence « Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed ». How do you react about it? And so, according to you, what makes graphic design so attractive?

EJ: It’s a beautiful saying, and it encapsulates perfectly what graphic design is all about. We really like this idea: you are working with the material of past generations, and your own work will once be the material for next generations to work with. As a graphic designer, you are part of a living tradition.
What makes graphic design so attractive is that it is not only a living tradition, but also a very young tradition. It is not defined very well yet. This means you can shape the tradition yourself. It is very well possible, as an individual designer, to influence the direction in which graphic design is heading. This is an exciting thought.

JP: When we ask to my mother what am I studying, she answers, « drawing studies »!  Many people don’t know this field or think graphic design is only what they see on Coca Cola’s advertisements. How can graphic designers try to change it? How do you try to change it, if you do?

EJ: Personally, we don’t really think it’s a problem that the field of graphic design is so difficult to define. As we described above, we think that the fact that graphic design is not yet fully defined means that it gives the graphic designer a lot of freedom to define the discipline for him/herself. We really like the vagueness of the word, ‘graphic design’. It can mean anything. This creates a lot of possibilities.

JP:  One last: Do you know repeatafterme.eu?

EJ: Well, we know it, because we met Jonathan Prêteux during a workshop that we gave at 104 (Le Cent Quatre), and he told us about it. We think we might have heard of it earlier: the name sounds vaguely familiar.
In fact, we just checked the website, and we really like it. We like this explosion of small design weblogs: Repeat After Me, Swiss Heritage, AisleOne, etc. etc. It seems that there is this whole international network of young designers and students, constantly exchanging ideas. It must be a very exciting time to be a young designer or student right now: you can see the future of graphic design taking shape before your eyes. It’s a renaissance of graphic design, almost like a punk explosion. We love it.

Paris, Lieu 104 
Merci à Danny, Marieke et Erwin, d’Experimental Jetset.





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