We are happy to introduce, one of our newest faculty members – Aurélien Farina, who is currently teaching a second year Art, Media and Technology Core Studio course called Communication Design. His class along with Sophie Cure’s typography class recently put on a show in the gallery: Point and Line to Plane.
What is your background, and how did you get into the design field?
AF: I studied political science at Science Po Paris for 5 years, graduated with a masters degree in cultural management and started working in the field just for about a year – then quit – it just didn’t work out. Later I studied graphic design in Geneva, stayed there for 2 years and graduated in 2011 with a bachelors degree.
How did you end up at Parsons Paris?
AF: I heard about Parsons Paris from the Director of History of Design and Curatorial Studies, Emmanuel Guy. I was working on a project on Guy Debord at the time, which is how we met actually. He was really excited about my work, so we became friends and last year an opportunity came up to teach in the graduate program, so I agreed and then Ben Gaulon also had an opportunity for the second year students to teach design. Before I was teaching in Switzerland, but I had too much work in Paris to be going back and forth, but now I just take my bike to Parsons.
Can you tell us more about the two big projects you’ve done so far with the class?
AF: So far we’ve finished two projects both of which are physical, printed design. The point was for students to understand how to build a design project, to teach them about the process of making a design object. It was important for me that the students analyzed their steps and felt comfortable with trying different things and making mistakes.
There’s an objective part where you try to understand what the subject is and there’s an interpretation part, when you try to communicate it to the viewer, and that’s the whole point of what we’re trying to do.
With our first project we started with music. Each student created a series of three postcards that were their own interpretation of three different versions of the recording of “Strawberry Fields forever” by The Beatles. Starting with music was easy because it is something everyone can relate to, but everyone understands it in their own way. We worked on a progression of the same thing, so we had many steps and stages in the project – that’s how the composition of the works came to be.
It’s very important to me that we produce and create physical objects not just ideas or images on the screen and we keep making mistakes but that’s how we learn, both the students and me. Making series of things is also important; showing the capacity of what the class can do.
For the second project we worked on one design that was then printed on three different fabrics. This design was created from a smell, where each student had a different one and I’ve always wanted to try something with a smell or a taste so I’m glad we ended up doing it.
I had an idea of making a project where the students would have to eat something without knowing what it is and create imagery from it. I wanted to do something where you get one chance and there’s no going back to it. Smell is just something that flies by and there’s almost no way to recreate it or at least it’s hard.
One of the main points of these projects is, obviously, to expand the field of analysis as a method of thinking and project making. It’s really important that we create something as a team and everyone gets to be a part of this big project.
If it’s not a secret, what do you have planned next?
AF: We are gonna work on music again. We will be working on an album that has 9 tracks and each student is gonna be assigned a track and the students are going to create a paper object.
The assignment is to design and then build a 3D paper object using only one A3 sheet of paper printed in black and white. Students can create anything they want using just that one piece of paper. We will not be making just images or setting type on a page – we will create objects, that you can hold, fold and unfold, spin etc. Typically this type of 3D project works really nicely for an exhibition. I’m excited to see all of the results that will come out from this.
Tell us more about your design studio – Paper!Tiger!
AF: We do graphic design for all sorts of clients. Recently it’s been more and more art things: culture, galleries, art fairs and such, which is very nice. We don’t do any digital design, no web design – it’s always print, well, 99% print.
I collaborate with other artists and designers but it always depends on the projects and whether I need someone’s help, but it’s always with friends.
In the studio, I just want to make books and have someone else sell them, so I don’t have to get into the distribution, because we don’t want to be publishers, though I end up doing everything myself instead of having to pay other people to do it.
Most projects we do is something where we won’t make any money from it and we know it. We basically spend money from what we make on the other side just to make nice things that we really want to make. Luckily, we don’t care about the commercial part of design and we just sell stuff to whoever wants to buy it.
The setup of the studio is really nice and that’s also an important part of it, because we have the neighbors who are all friends and clients. People just come by, because they see us from the street and get curious, which is something you’ve got to get used to, but it really gives us good energy and being able to have people coming in to work and look at some things is great.
To sum it up, it’s just making projects and objects with friends!
Interview by AMT student Dasha Ilina.