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PEOPLEText: Satoru Tanno

What is your relation like with the Shaman graphic design studio? What kind of work do they mainly do?

Shaman is a design studio that groups different abilities in design; there’s product, print, multimedia and audiovisual design. They’re quite unique in Paris, by their alternative way of considering every work from the most corporate client to a fashion brand. It is also a small company (9 people) with a very quick and logical state of mind. I think that this kind of structures are more usual in the United States, but in Paris it’s very difficult to find studios like that. (Don’t ask me why…)

As I’ve told you earlier, I work in their studio and I’m mainly in charge of the audiovisual and multimedia projects, which are often quite hot and interesting projects. I appreciate their creativity, and the way they understand, see and practice the wide field of design.

We’d like to ask you about the web design in Paris and France in general. What’s hot at the moment?

I don’t think that web design is something hot in Paris right now. There’s a lot work shared between a few design companies, and a bunch of work addicts but that’s all. This particular activity is becoming a bit mediatic, but the main problem is that “France” is more tired than wired.
Big telecommunication companies are currently trying to seduce people and to make them forget older communication devices like our obsolete minitel, but they have to face a more cultural problem. France is still the country of De Gaulle, and so the country of a deep aversion for the American culture and domination. As the web is mostly American, we’re getting low-tech even at a European scale.

Anyway, there’s some good innovative things going on, most of them in Paris but they’re too small and too French to represent something on an international scale. I think that in France, the internet is going to be popular when all the “convergence” programs will be OK, when TV, real interactivity and Hi transfer nets are going to be linked.

If you worked outside Paris, where would you choose to be?

Actually, I’m leaving Paris tomorrow to see if the United States could be a good place to live. I’ll spend one week in San Francisco and one week in New York, so maybe I’ll have the opportunity to give you my opinion on these two distinct places later. I think that as a social act, design can be interesting in cultural environments that are very different from ours. I知 thinking about a friend of mine who has swapped Paris for two years for a job in a design company in India. He told me that his experience there had been very useful and interesting for him, very helpful in understanding other ways of thinking.
About Paris, I don’t exactly know if I like this place. I think that I like it because I’m in it, which means that I know people, I have friends and memories here, I know what is challenging or not … it’s my cultural environment and my home town. At the moment, I’ve things to finish here and after that I’ll ask myself if I want to stay or not.

What do you think about Japan?

There’s a lot of things and realities in the Japanese culture that I don’t particularly appreciate, but I’m fascinated by the ability of Japanese creators to push concepts in their most extreme dimension.
I think about musicians like Keiji Haino, or Japanese fashion designers, or the buto (?) dancers: they all have this unique potential to mix deep cultural/traditional elements with extreme conceptual and contemporary art forms. Now, my favourite records are the “dumb type” collection, which are produced by a Japanese artist group, and they’re a good example of that.

Who are your favourite graphic/visual designers?

There’s a lot of people I truly respect for their personal way of considering their own environment. My influences came from famous designers like David Carson and Peter Saville, from people from the video art and animation field, like the Whitney brothers, Malcolm McLaren, Len Lye and (I forgot his name) the one who made this short movie called “the space between my teeth…
I’m influenced a lot by music and dance and have a great interest in the work of Merce Cunningham, Lassigue Benthaus, Bisk, Autechre and Dj Krush.

The last question. What are your plans for the near future?

I think that for the next four or five years, I will try to Finnish what I’ve started in Paris, try to turn these shaman web/multimedia activities into something bigger or maybe unusual for a French based company, unusual in the way they see this domain. I will also try to improve my knowledge into audiovisual production, and how this industry works. I’m amazed by what’s happening today, by the fact that this business is getting bigger everyday and that our world is beginning to exist mostly through digital and video images. As graphic designers, we should definitely be a part of it, and might be able to influence, more than other people, its destiny and its own evolution. It’s a challenging and positive stimulation.
After that I will probably try to spend more time on my other passions: music and the art of documentary through video, film and photography.

Text: Satoru Tanno

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