Interview with Élise Rigollet

Élise Rigollet is an independent graphic designer and creative director based in Paris, working in the fields of design for culture, music, publishing and more. She likes focusing on playful combinations of image-making, typography and colour. In 2018, she founded Élise Rigollet Offices, a creative practice and design studio focusing on creating visual and conceptual stories across brand identities, art direction, print and digital design, and illustration.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi! I’m a designer and art director, currently living in Paris. I run my own studio and focus on creating visual and conceptual stories across brand identities, art direction, print and digital design.

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in graphic design?

I think I loved that it can be applied to so many different medias, and that I get to do a bit of everything. Editorial design, branding, art direction, websites, the list goes on, and as someone who loves change, it keeps me on my toes.

How would you describe your creative process? 

It varies quite a lot. Some days, inspiration can be quite elusive, and some days I’m in the zone from 9am onwards. I’ve learned to just go with the flow, and not push when something clearly isn’t working. Taking a step back always helps.

How much does the city and surroundings affect your creative output?

I think I’ve lived in Paris for so long that I’ve become less inspired by it. It feels comfortable. That’s why I try to work remotely from other places quite often. 

Do you think working in different cities has shaped your style and approach? 

I would say so. I think the people I met in each city definitely shaped the way I work, and were fundamental influences in my first years as a graphic designer. I had the chance to work in different studios and immerse myself in various ways of being creative.

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

Even though Paris is quite a small city, it is crowded. I feel like I need to leave quite often to recharge, as it can get exhausting after a while. I used to think it was quite expensive to live here as an artist, but after spending a few months in New York it’s put things in perspective.

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

We definitely have a beautiful selection of public museums and galleries. I can’t speak to the way it trickles down to more independent and smaller initiatives (if it does at all).

Do you think it is also the responsibility of the artist/creative to improve the quality of people's lives in their city?

What comes to mind naturally is how the visual landscape around us (in our daily life, walking around or getting groceries) impacts everyone, and creatives have a say in that impact. Graphic design is always visible, in a way or another, and the graphic landscape of a city or country varies so much. It’s quite interesting to compare cities in The Netherlands to French cities, as the relationship to ads on the street or public transport seems completely different. 

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

I just launched my new website, which is super exciting! I enlisted APN Works’ help to code it.

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

Maybe add a bit more space, and make the winter less grey.

What would be your dream project?

I’ve always wanted to design the layout of a magazine as well as art direct the content. Editorial design is how I first started my career, working with Studio Elana Schlenker, and I’d love to get back to it.

If you could choose any artist/creative to collaborate with, who would that be and why? 

Recently I’ve been loving Camille Lichtenstern’s (a Paris based set designer) personal projects with photographer Romain Roucoules. Beautiful!

What do you do to switch off?

Go outside and walk around. Or pretty much anything that doesn’t include a screen.

What does home mean to You?

Home as a base has recently become quite important to me. Since I used to travel a lot more, and for months at a time, I had become quite used to living out of a suitcase, but I’d say that this year has made me want to settle down somewhere. I am still traveling and working remotely a couple of months out of the year, but it feels good to have a base to come back to in Paris. 

Describe the perfect day for you in Paris. 

Getting up early with the sun shining in the flat, getting a coffee to go on my way to the studio and having a light work day while still taking breaks on the balcony with friends. 

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

I like the smell after a light summer rain.

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

I used to say New York, but I think Copenhagen is my #1 at the moment. I spent 3 months there in 2021 for a residency, and loved it. The access to the beach from the city is so fun, and biking everywhere is the best.

mixtape by Élise Rigollet

paris by Élise Rigollet

A selection of places in Paris - recommended by independent graphic designer and creative director, Élise Rigollet. See Élise's citylikeyou profile page here

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