Lines of Communication

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By: Veronique Vienne | October 9, 2012

To get its message across, a Parisian design studio wants to change the way we read.

Les Graphiquants
Portrait by Pascal Béjean

In 2009, after just a year in business, the principals of a small design studio in Paris called Les Graphiquants decided to print a brochure of their work. They created a handsome 42-page, four-color presentation showing examples of their best posters and brochures as well as some of their personal projects. It was all very impressive and beautifully laid out, save for the fact that the writing—all of it, including the captions—was in Lorem ipsum dummy text.

It was surreal: every heading, subheading, blurb, footnote, and photo credit was carefully and elegantly handled in Latin. (Take that, David Carson!) I called Les Graphiquants’ office and asked Cyril Taieb, one of its four principals, what sort of feedback they got on the brochure. “Friends loved it!” he said, adding that the work should speak for itself—and that, anyway, nobody ever reads what’s written in these things.

“You don’t think that readers want to know the name of the project or the client?” I asked. “It’s irrelevant information,” he said. “So quickly forgotten.” We were on the phone, but I could tell that he was shrugging his shoulders.

That was three years ago. Today, Les Graphiquants (in French, the name suggests that they are graphic “traffickers”) are one of the largest independent graphic design studios in Paris, with enough work to keep close to a dozen people on the payroll. The list of their clients includes the Centre Pompidou, the French cultural ministry, Canal+, and a handful of prestigious music and dance festivals. In fact, their work seems to pop up everywhere these days, which has led some of the city’s more established designers to dismiss it as “stylistic” or lacking substance.

To read the rest of this article, purchase the October 2012 issue of Print, or download a PDF version.

October 2012 issue of Print