Graphic design studio be-poles—founded in 2000 by architect Antoine Ricardou and with offices in Paris and New York—has worked with the likes of Colette, Diptyque and The Nomad Hotel, among many others. And, like many creative companies, the studio has evolved into a multi-disciplinary endeavor and now has its own product line. It all started eight years ago, when be-poles first branched out into product design with its Portraits de Villes series. The beautiful photo books—each of which focuses on one global city, from Tokyo to Tbilisi—are created together with well-known photographers, Clémentine Larroumet (be-poles’ artistic director) explained to CH at the recent 2015 Maison & Objet in Paris. The studio fit in well at the design fair, having already created the new graphics for Maison & Objet’s corporate campaign in 2014.
Now, be-poles publishes four “Postcards from the Edge” photo books each year, and there seem to be few cities that haven’t been the subject of the studio’s pared-back, dreamy aesthetic. Each book is made by one guest artist, who is given carte blanche to illustrate the city of his or her choice. And the project continues to expand. “Last year we introduced ‘Vues Choisies’—small collections of 10 pictures from each book, made in a vintage postcard-style,” Larroumet says. Going through the selected postcards is a joy: there are some real, unexpected gems in the mix, like the pictures from Eritrea’s Asmara. And it’s still fascinating to see the more well-known choices, like LA and Rome, through another traveler’s eyes.
As well as the books, be-poles has created their own sturdy paper bags (“Le sac en papier”) for years, but this fall the studio has developed the one product into a whole, lust-worthy collection: L’Article. At Maison, be-poles showcased the new line, which pays “homage to simplicity” and is basically a much better take on everyday products like tote bags, tape, notebooks, soap and pencils—all with their names and details printed on the cover. The pencils are a collaboration with Caran d’Ache, and they’re a designer’s dream—each set features seven pencils: H, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B and 5B, all displayed in a wooden pencil box.
L’Article is a great example of design that is super-functional but ultimately beautiful to look at, and the thinking behind the design is just as simple: “We love typography!” says Larroumet. It’s a love that comes through clearly in the studio’s work, and that has now also been honored in its latest collection.
First two images courtesy of be-poles, all others by Cajsa Carlson