Interview with Alice Franchetti

Alice Franchetti is an independent graphic designer currently living and working between Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland. From Art direction, editorial design, visual identity to illustration, her graphic design practice includes projects for clients in both cultural and commercial fields. She grad­u­ated with hon­ours from the pres­ti­gious art school ECAL, University of Art and Design, where she also teaches Graphic Design.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello, my name is Alice Franchetti, I’m 26 years old, I’m a graphic designer based in Geneva. I studied at ECAL in Lausanne where I was an assistant in Graphic Design for two years. In parallel, I worked in Geneva at Studio Gavillet & Cie/Optimo and then Schaffter Sahli. Now I have my own Studio, I work in the field of Culture and Commerce and I'm also teaching.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Geneva Old Town, it’s an ancient maze of small streets and picturesque squares, filled with homey cafés, restaurants, galleries, museums and historical sights, lined by historical buildings adorned with beautiful masonry facades. You’re whisked a thousand years back into the times of ancient Geneva.

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in Graphic Design?

I always knew that I wanted to do something where I had to imagine, create, I wanted to hold the result of my work in my hands. My neighbour Mina Magnenat was the little daughter of the painter Ferdinand Hodler, it was at her place that I took my first drawing lessons. She was a character who marked me forever, she’s the one who encouraged me to go to art school. Then at school, I liked graphic design because having a request and be able to succeed in answering it in the most appropriate way to make the customer and myself happy is an amazing mix!

How would you describe your creative process?

What I prefer in my job is that each project is different. I like to discover new subjects, new environments and new people. I don’t have a particular way of proceeding… every project happens differently.

Does your city and surroundings influence you as a creative and individual?

Geneva is one of the cities that offers the best quality of life in the world. We are surrounded by mountains, we have a lake and streams, it’s very nice. It’s the city that hosts the most international organizations in the world, it is known for being a multicultural centre. It is this cosmopolitan side that I like the most. It’s great to have so much diversity in such a small city. Most people who live in Geneva have different origins and it’s common to have several nationalities, it creates an exceptional dynamic and it is so enriching. I think my environment is part of me and therefore influences me in a way. I don’t feel Swiss or « Genevoise », for me it means nothing. I feel I am in a place where there are lots of people like me who come from different horizons.

What do you struggle with the most in terms of working and living in a city like Geneva?

For years, urban cultural spaces have been created in abandoned buildings and preserved as monuments. Geneva saw the development of an important underground scene, marked by the appearance of numerous squats and self-managed sites dedicated to an alternative culture.  They play an important role in the musical, theatrical or cinematographic programming of the city. A repressive campaign has led to the closure of most places of alternative culture, so-called underground culture, and it makes me sad. It's important that the diversity of places and scenes is maintained. These places are part of the identity of the city.

The responsibility of the council in every city is to provide a solid foundation of design, art and cultural facilities, is that evident in Geneva?

Yes, I think that in proportion to its size there are a lot of institutions. Geneva has a rich cultural life. It devotes a large part of its budget to culture. There are also scholarships and residencies put in place for young creatives. There are many museums and theatres, and Geneva host festivals and many other events throughout the year. There's always something to do! 

Do you think it is also the responsibility of the designer/creative to improve the quality of peoples lives in their city?

Yes definitely. We are there to inform people of what is happening in their city, to make them want to participate actively in the activities that the city offers them. It is very important for Geneva to make every effort to vitalize the city!

Can you tell us about any current or future projects that you are particular excited about?

After several months of work we just finished the Cully Jazz Festival, last summer we won the contest for the creation of its new identity with my friend Giliane Cachin. We are very happy with this project, it was a very nice experience to work on it for such a long time with so much support! I was selected for an exhibition in September, it’s always a great opportunity to expose my projects. At the moment I’m organizing this.

What is the one thing you can’t live without in Geneva?

The Lake 

If you could add or change something about Geneva, what would that be?

Prohibit access to cars in the city centre and develop more infrastructures for soft mobility

Describe the perfect day for you in Geneva.

Geneva is great in summer. There is so much green space! We like to ride our bikes, look for the flatter rocks and swim in the lake, have a barbecue, drink beers, time stops and when we leave it is already night.

What do you do to switch off ?

Since I often sit in front of a computer, I do more manual activities, when I start something it always becomes an obsession. Even to relax I like doing activities where there is a visible result in the end. At the moment it's gardening, it's a good time to plant so I spend a lot of time doing this and I look forward to seeing the results… 

Sometimes people relate a specific smell to the city they live in or the place they grew up, does Geneva evoke a personal smell to you?

Of course, every city has an odour, that's part of its identity. I grew up in the Old Town and on cold winter evenings, there is always a very special smell of smoked wood because many apartments still have fireplaces. I think this smell sums everything up when I think of Geneva.

What is your favourite time of the day?

Very early in the morning because the city is still asleep and it is very nice to think that we all have a day ahead. My favourite meal is breakfast, in recent years I was always on the train at this time, but now I enjoy taking my time,  fetching fresh bread from the bakery and drinking a big coffee quietly.

If you weren't living in Geneva and could choose any city to live in where would that be, and why?

Without hesitation Mexico City. The energy of this city is incomparable. I've never felt so good, it’s my favourite place in the world because of a lot of things but to summarize: atmosphere! The pace of life… and what’s magic is that from the capital you can easily travel to see different impressive landscapes, as it is a huge country. You can go from the desert to the jungle, there are mountains, on one side, the Pacific coast, and on the other side, the Caribbean… I love México!

geneva by alice franchetti

A selection of places in Geneva - recommended by graphic designer Alice Franchetti. See all of Alice's favourite places here

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