Études walks on four pairs of legs: Aurélien Arbet, Jérémie Egry, José Lamali and Nicolas Poillot. The abundance of accent aigu (é) would suggest that this creative collective are French. Tout à fait! Based between Paris and New York, Études is a multi-disciplinary studio with an online presence (washed in signature cobalt blue) that has given cult status to their fresh take on design and creative services. They produce a coveted biannual clothing line, publish a series of photography books, and undertake freelance work that ranges from product design to print editorial and art direction.
They Tweet, Tumble and disseminate their activities across Facebook, an email newsletter and over one hundred stores across Europe, the United States and Asia. This strategy and their 'rigorous creative attitude' has taken them from strength to strength, recently attracting investment from NellyRodi's new support affiliate for innovative business. METAL met Jéremie and José on the Boulevard Beaumarchais to talk about their cobalt takeover…
José Lamali: There are four of us working on the creative side of the project. We're all friends. Aurélien and Jérémie work as creative directors, I work on design and production and Nicolas is our photo editor and takes care of the books.
Jéremie Egry: We started the project in 2012 but we were working together on different projects for a long time under other names. In 2012 we decided to pull everything together under this new identity. The name Études [roughly meaning 'studies' in French] came from ideas about experience, about research. It's about the practise or process to obtain something, not just the ending result.
José: We're not focused on just one thing. Our personal influences are so wide and various we wanted a name that reflected it. The challenge for us is to all go in the same direction across different mediums; the clothing line, the photography, the book series, the art direction. We put all this together on the same level. The way we work…it's never over. There are so many mediums and experiments we want to explore. We don't want to fit into any kind of box.
Jéremie: I grew up with Aurélien, we lived in the same neighbourhood and we've been working together since 1999. We have different backgrounds, he's more artistic whereas I'm from a background which is closer to graphic design but we still share the same ideas about the world. We met in 2002, José was designing another brand for us then, the women's line.
Jéremie: Not being in just one place is inspiring. We're French, but we are all used to travelling. I lived in Stockholm for a while and Barcelona for a long time. It's important not to associate the project to only one city or country; we like to create this dialogue that gives an international and contemporary dimension to the project. We find inspiration in these cities and people as well as the distance between them. We are neither from Paris or NYC. After living in several cities and countries, it's just where we felt we should settle.
José: We've been friends since the beginning, we've known each other for a long time and we're all the same age group so we have all these influences we don't have to explain to each other. We share everything and we talk a lot. We've been doing it like that for a long time so it's a natural process. That's how it works. There' s a lot of spontaneity in what we do; the things we create, the way we exchange ideas, the speed of the process. Six months to make a collection is very short to build a collection. We decide on a theme for the collection and we then think about different artists. It's easy, it just happens.
Jérémie: We spend a lot of time online. We're established in Paris and New York now but before we were split everywhere. We exchange -we go there, Aurélien comes here.
Jérémie: We didn't grow up with the Internet (most of us are a little older than that), but we really consider it, although it's also really important for us to make physical items too. We've been publishing books since 2007 and I think that came out of our frustration with the digital world. It's not perfect but it's there and we can use it to show what we do. We're not 100% digital, it's not where we come from, so I guess we're in between. We create physical things, the clothes and the books, but we don't have so many occasions to present them physically. Actually, one of our goals is to initiate presentations and meetings with those people who buy these things and like our stuff.
José: The physical experience is important to us. That's why we did this pop-up store in Paris
[Études worked with Terrazzo Project in June 2012 to produce beautiful furniture and fittings for the shop which showcased their products and outlook] and are now planning another one for New York. We want to show everything together so people understand we're not only a fashion line, there is something else, our world. Our next goal is to open our own space. We don't want to do a traditional shop, but rather something that changes, like us.
Jérémie: Yeah,we want to present our universe.
Jérémie: These are people that we follow, they all live in New York and work as artists so we know them from other projects, exhibitions or publications. I think it's important and interesting to work with people who are far away from fashion or design stuff. That combination is more exciting.
José: We love to work with young or new artists to have something contemporary and original which is part of the moment. I love this meeting between artist and fabric, I always like the way you get the artwork from them and take it to the factory and wait, the result is always surprising. When it arrives you're like 'Ahh! I wasn't expecting that!' but in the end it works. For example, we've been working with Jacquard, a fabric that's made in France by a very old factory since God knows when. They totally don't understand what we're making but they get very excited too. That's so cool! It's funny to put these things together and see what happens, this crossover of worlds and generations.
José: For next summer, number four, it's 'World Talk'. It's about communication between countries, between North and South and the technology that makes it possible. About how countries speak all together and the way new technologies confront ethnic traditions.We will keep the typical Études shapes but it's a Summer collection so it's going to be bright. It's still very clean and sporty.
Jérémie: The starting point was the call centre, this place where people go and call home. This time we worked with a Spanish digital artist, Manuel Fernandez, to develop patterns. I think an important point is that we really feel like we've found the basic Études silhouette with collection number three
José: Yes, we have our classic shapes now, something you can recognize as Études. We transformed this signature look through experimentation and exploring fabrics. It's part of our natural process.
Jérémie: It's always this way, across projects. We take our references and play with them. We don't have a lateral process, everything comes from people we meet, places we visit, experiences and influences that we share.
Jérémie: I don't know why, it wasn't deliberate. Although it's true we mostly published male works so far, we do have plenty of upcoming projects. We're not some boys club. It's just a random thing.
José: On our second collection we only worked with female artists. The clothing was male but in the end it was unisex. We are not a typically male brand, it's for friends, its for whoever who likes it; we don't have a gender border, it's all mixed. We don't care about gender.
José: The next collection will be out in January.
Jérémie: We will have new books out soon too, publications that won't be part of our Blue Books series. We want to publish more contemporary art books. This new one, out in January, is the first one of this independent form. Then, our next big project will be about finding a place, which will take some time. We want a place that opens the door to present, somewhere we can collaborate with different artists and designers. We' re very excited about doing