Words & Interview: Tina Kejser
Artwork: Frédéric Forest
Photo: Sam Coopeland
Frédéric Forest a French illustrator, designer and co-founder of the design studio FRST, started drawing before he could write. Through his recognizable and minimalistic style of drawing Frédéric depicts the various ways in which the body adapts to its ever-changing evironment.
What is the story of Frédéric Forest and when did you start drawing professionally?
I grew up in Annecy in the French Alps. I spent my time skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding and drawing. Like everyone else, I started drawing before writing. I never stopped and I loved it. It’s a viral emotion. However, I always wanted to create and desired to do product design because it meant that I was not drawing for myself but for a project, for something larger. So, I graduated from ENSCI/Les Ateliers in Paris. When I was still a student there, I worked on projects for Cartier leather goods. I left France for Italy to go to the Adidas Advanced Design Studio in Montebelluna, where I designed for the brand’s high-end sports shoe collections. Then, for various international luxury firms, I used my approach for brand image, visual identity and product design. In 2008, after various experiences working with the designers Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec, Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance and Jean-Marie Massaud, I started, with Clémentine Giaconia, our very own design studio called FRST (partner with houses and brands), and an eponymous studio Forest. Giaconia (furniture and interior design with editors, and private projects).
You have a recognizable and minimalistic approach to drawing. What are you inspired by?
Inspiration comes from random moments running in my head and stealing everything I see. These moments could be anything: a smell, a sound, someone you cross on the street, a material or its details... My influences flirt with photography, fashion, gastronomy, music, typography, dance, poetry, color and light; the 1967 E-type Jaguar, the Malaparte’s villa, the villa Cavrois, the architects Frank Lloyd-Wright, Carlo Scarpa the choreographers Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, Angelin Preljocaj, Dorothée Gilbert, the band Radiohead, Haruki Murakami, the photographer Paolo Roversi and many more. They enable me to express new feelings and suggest new stories, whatever the scale of the project.
What does adapting mean to you?
Adapting, to me, is not merely a simple gesture or a one-time thing. It represents an ongoing process, day-to-day, every day, over the span of a person’s lifetime. To me, adapting requires many layers that you can peel off or add on based on what your body requires. A body is constantly adapting to our environment, to the architecture around us, weather, people, emotions, and so on. Adapting is in many ways, I think, our body’s journey. Although our core may always stay the same, our body is constantly in dialogue with us through adaptation.
How did you work with the concept of adapting and its meaning in your drawings?
My approach was to tell the story of a body that is adapting throughout the day. By turning the pages, back and forth, the reader gets to participate and also alter the steps of this cycle. The body, either female or male, travels through time and takes in various emotions based on time and space. The images function as diptychs with both a silhouette and abstract typography studies that act as architectural cues such as the corner of a street. In this way, the two images dialogue with each other in order to tell the story.
What’s your story behind the series of drawings?
The story is about a day in the life of an architect. The series begin with a body warming up, perhaps getting out of the shower, beginning his or her daily ritual to face the day. Next, he or she leaves to experience the day and what it has to offer – at this point, his or her hand is not in the pocket, but it is out and active – alert and open to feel. The hand being one of the primary sensory vectors of the body, is a way to say that if the hand is activated then so is the brain, to feeling all that is around. The third scene depicts a moment during the day in which something is explained – details are there but it all remains abstract. Something is being explained and shared, and two hands are coming together – either the two hands of the architect or two hands of two strangers joining. After this, we observe a scene of decompression where the person is heading out, perhaps to dinner or to meet someone. In the final scene, we see that the person has come full circle and is ready to go back “home” to a place that feels safe or like a cocoon. The feeling of being warm and safe is signaled by the hands coming together in a loving gesture.