Art always returns to nature one way or another, whether it’s figurative or abstract and the body of work of designers Zim&Zou, more than proves this theory. In reality, their work which is rooted in story-telling and acute creativity even transcends the peripheries of art.
Influenced by the strong connect shared by life and nature, Zim&Zou’s paper world captures an admiration for the infinite. The intricately stacked forms focus on the conceptual migration from the permanence and solidity of the natural world to the fragility and intimacy of paper.
Zim&Zou, a French, graphic design studio based in Nancy, France is owned by Lucie Thomas from Vosges and Thibault Zimmermann from Paris. After studying graphic design for three years, the studio commenced on a contemporary approach to design armed with a mix of mastery over various genres such as paper sculpture, installation, graphic design, illustration and web design.
“We try to promote real art in graphic design and advertising, highlighting the element of craftsmanship,” shares the duo. Artistic work with paper is known to be meticulous and precise, requiring a healthy dose of patience, knowledge of materials and a steady hand.
Zim&Zou combine all three in just the right proportions to deliver objects of true art that not only portray the clear vision of the artists but also evoke in the on-lookers a feeling of pure awe. The team’s handiwork has seen the making of a number of projects, the latest being titled, Forest Folks created for the window display of a new Hermes store in the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.
“Forest Folks comprises a collection of curious characters that live inside a woodland wonderland offering peeks inside their habitats and homes,” explain Zim&Zou. Two vitrines house a pair of vibrant scenes, each carefully cut, crimped, folded and fashioned from paper sheets of various styles and colours.
The designs are initially sketched, cut to proportions and fused into ethereal objects. The duo decided to focus on installations using handcrafted objects made of tangible materials such as paper, wood, thread etc. steering away from computer design. The team tells us, “We do everything by hand, limiting the use of computers to the minimum.”
Drawing from lush landscapes, botanical life and motifs found in nature, Zim&Zou conjured a curious world of creatures, caves and hidden homes for the Hermes display. Oversized mushrooms, floral and feathery architectural forms and layered leafy landscapes comprise this complex world of paper parts. As the artists describe, “This microscopic point of view – where plants and other vegetation reign as masters – is like a picture, a flash, and a precise instant in nature’s unrestrained run.”
Anchored in craftsmanship, their Forest Folks series is sculpted with a precise hyperrealism that matches the personalities and peculiarities of our immediate world. Explaining their perception of this world, the team informs, “Life is everywhere, and flowers are growing and carry away inhabitants in their impetus. Mysterious people are evolving, building and living right in the heart of nature, revealing a fragment of their daily life.”
A play of paper has most stunningly arrested the freedom behind their form of art – a medium the team has successfully peddled and one that equips them with a force to bend things most people view as a straight line.
Paper is one of the most dominant of materials that their work has witnessed. In the process of creating new installations, paper has emerged as one of the key elements that unite the disparate directions their work has taken. On being asked, what it is about paper that makes the duo feature it so heavily in their work, the pair explains, “We decided to use paper in many of our projects because not only is it a basic material, accessible for everyone, but because it’s a perfect way to show the balance between digital and handwork.
The aspect of craftsmanship is really important to us and paper gives us an infinite amount of possibilities. We have a particular predilection for paper because it’s a versatile material, easy to sculpt and very rich in terms of colour and texture.” However, the creative brains have not overlooked the aspect of sustainability in their particular craft. “It’s very important to us when using paper to be very careful about recycling the waste we produce.
That’s why we preserve all the scraps so later on we can make an installation using all those different random shapes. This is our way to transform waste into art.”
Through their personal artistic pursuits, the paper craft duo has been showing the world for a while now what can be achieved with a Stanley knife and a steady hand reminding us that true art is characterised mostly by an irresistible urge in the creative individual.
Text By Kanupriya Pachisia
Photographs Courtesy Zim&Zou