5 rising stars of design from Paris

Paris may be the epicentre of global fashion, having played host to the likes of Coco Chanel, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin - but it's also home to its fair share of world-class graphic design and illustration.

From iconic, long-established boutique studios such as M/M Paris, est. 1992, to young, exciting, multidisciplinary individuals like Leslie David, est. 2009, the Parisian design scene is definitely burning bright. 

We've done the top agencies of New York and new talent from London recently, so read on to discover five more exciting stars of design based in the French capital...

01. Frederic Tacer

Nuit Blanche posters by Frederic Tacer, featuring star trails

In Frederic Tacer's identity for Nuit Blanche, an all-night contemporary arts festival in Metz, by day the posters contained information but by night, this was no longer visible and they became purely abstract

Born in Normandy, Frederic Tacer grew up in Alsace, studied in Lyon and ended up graduating from the National College of Arts and Design in Paris. After a spell in London, he returned to Paris to set up as a freelancer.

"If I had to sum up my practice in a few words, I would say that it's a constant and relentless attempt to reach functionalism and simplicity," reflects Tacer. "I couldn't agree more with Bruno Munari when he said: 'Progress means simplifying, not complicating.'"

Book mockups by Frederic Tacer's Occur Books

Inspired by the so-called 'death of books', Tacer conceived a fictional publishing house called Occur Books, which publishes manuscripts from various time periods in the future

What does Tacer love so much about Paris? "I enjoy that it can sometimes feel like a time machine," he smiles. "The weight of history in this city is so rich that it is almost palpable."

He continues: "Whether you're having a drink in a café, buying groceries in a street market, entering a random building or simply wandering in some lost street, there's always a moment when you can imagine yourself in another decade or century."

02. Playground

Geometric Les Inrocks Festival flyers by Playground

"Les Inrocks Festival was the first project where we had fun on posters and motion," explains Playground founder Valentin Adam

Playground is a multi-disciplinary studio based in Paris and Amsterdam, creating work that its founder Valentin Adam describes as "fun-coloured-pop".

Having studied at Olivier de Serres, Adam worked as a freelance web designer, before joining a collective of directors where he learned video and animation skills – and Playground also throws illustration, typography and print design into the mix.

Colourful POPUP! print materials by Playground

Playground's identity for Paris-based music/bar/restaurant POPUP! evolves on a monthly basis. The studio will soon tackle the interior too

"I got bored making things classy and discreet, and decided to make everything fun, colourful, playful and surprising," he explains.

"The best thing about Paris for me: after 13 years here, I still have my best friends I grew up with. We learned to be curious together, with the big fixity this city offered us."

03. Le Duo

Karl Lagerfeld illustration by Le Duo

This illustration of Karl Lagerfeld forms part of a series of self-initiated posters by Le Duo, available for sale worldwide

An artistic twosome composed of Albéric d'Hardivilliers and Léopoldine Solovici, Le Duo creates bold, distinctive illustrations for brands and editorial clients, using a geometric flat design style.

"Their inspirations behind that style, though, are very diverse – and sometimes unexpected," explains Alice Des from La Suite Illustration, who represents Le Duo. "They love Flemish paintings for their lack of perspective, but also engravings, stained glass windows and more."

Sunset illustration with tree and architecture silhouettes by Le Duo

This illustration for an exhibition by the Endless Summer collective, held in Paris in September 2017, demonstrates Le Duo's shared love of architecture and design

Although d'Hardivilliers and Solovici have moved to the countryside on the outskirts of Paris in search of a quiet creative space, their professional life remains in the capital, where they regularly engage with the city's thriving art and photography scenes.

04. Akatre

Founded in 2007 by Julien Dhivert, Valentin Abad at Sébastien Riveron, Akatre is a multidisciplinary creative studio based in Paris.

Projects span graphic design, photography, typography, video, art installations and musical creations for a range of institutions in the fields of art, culture, fashion, media and luxury.

Huge cuboid art installation made of pieces of dark wood, by Akatre

Made from a huge piece of wood, Akatre's art installation at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris weighed 2.5 tonnes

"We design how we want, without having to belong to a specific style or movement," is Akatre's manifesto. "We like to change our style depending on the project."

While the creative studio laments the "cloudy and rainy weather" in the French capital, the trio suggest that Paris's world-class food and museums more than make up for it.

05. Violaine & Jérémy

Red and orange watercolour Theâtre des Bouffes du Nord poster by Violaine & Jérémy

Violaine & Jérémy worked with pigments, inks and watercolours to create these visuals for Le Theâtre des Bouffes du Nord, as well as designing the title font

When they first met, Violaine Orsoni was head of production at an ad agency, and Jérémy Schneider had just joined as an intern and illustrator – and quickly rose through the ranks to art director.

After a mutual realisation that neither of them cared about selling products, the duo left to found a design and illustration studio instead, so Violaine & Jérémy was born.

"Our aesthetic is timeless with a modern twist," explains Schneider. "It’s very important for us to develop our own style, because we believe it’s one of the most important ingredients for a good designer."

Retro illustrated poster for JR at the Louvre by Violaine & Jérémy

Using pencil on Canson fine art paper, Violaine & Jérémy designed this striking poster for an exhibition of the contemporary artist JR at the Musée du Louvre

Violaine & Jérémy's technique varies according to the subject, but illustrations are invariably drawn by hand with pencil or coloured pencil.

"Paris is beautiful, with infinite historical references that inspire us," adds Schneider. "Plus restaurants and cheese, and a tremendous choice of cinemas and museums."

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Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.