Florian Brennemann and Léo Marsal from Diplomatie Studio on finding the right balance between rules and experimentation

After several fruitful collaborations together, Florian Brennemann and Léo Marsal founded Diplomatie in 2018, a Paris based design and creation studio. “We met during our studies in Paris. After our masters, we were reunited to work for a festival. Léo contacted me to assist him in the creation of the visual identity and communication media”, Florian tells Collide24. In the past two years, the duo has produced distinctive work for a range of different clients, cultural institutions and brands, among them the Java Club Belleville, Benext or Panorama 2020. 

The studio’s approach is deeply inspired and influenced by the Swiss graphic design traditions, having a strong focus on functionality and rigor of production. “Our philosophy is to offer a rigorous approach based on precise rules, but also a modularity of this system to generate disruptions, to stand out and move forward with our collaborators towards a contemporary and dynamic approach of the communication tools”, the duo states. “We want to fight boredom, both for ourselves and for the viewer, but also in order to challenge ourselves by always questioning the rules that we have established beforehand.”

It is this thoughtful and reflective nature of the designers, which inspired the title of the studio, Diplomatie. “As we have worked together before creating the studio, we had the complexity of teamwork in mind, as well as managing sponsors. Diplomacy seemed to be our best ally in the management of internal conflicts in the studio, as well as external conflicts”, Florian and Léo explain. With this sentiment at the core of their practice, the duo decided to name the studio after their peaceful and diplomatic approach. 

The studio has recently collaborated with Bureau Badass on the visual identity for Benext, a progressive informatics development company based in Paris. Given the complexity and commercial background of the project, the duo took on the challenge to adapt to the needs of the client without distancing the design from their existing work. “We implemented a corresponding code system between the Latin alphabet and the numeric alphabet. This represents the starting point of this project, followed by establishing precise rules adaptable to all media and allowing the client to take control of these tools”, Florian and Léo explain us about the thought out identity, “Working for an individual or working for a company of 200 people makes such a difference. It can be a complicated or even frustrating process to make the identity system accessible and applicable to every user.”

When contacting La Java in Belleville at the end of 2019, it was just the right timing, as the club was looking for new collaborator around that time. Since 2020, studio Diplomatie took over the club’s identity, starting with the creating of a new logo. “We suggested to incorporate the location, Belleville, directly into the logo. For us, the club and this Parisian district have been closely linked since its existence. It was just meant to be”, the Florian and Léo tell us. After just a month of work, the duo launched the new, contemporary identity and created the first posters for the upcoming season. With this tight schedule, decisions had to be made quickly. Luckily, the duo already had a reference in mind and took the raw aesthetics of club campaign posters in France and the underground punk movement as a source of inspiration. Throughout the process, the studio collaborated with many talented artists, among them Recso Verto, Paul d’Orlando, France Graal and Julien Marmar. With the raise of Covid-19, the project is sadly on hold for now, but Florian and Léo hope to resume their work as soon as possible. 

At the beginning of each project, the duo takes a lot of time to analyze the situation and get a better understanding of the client’s needs and expectations, while looking for references and inspirations along the way. “After that, we start experimenting with images and videos and reduce this visual exploration in the next step, to filter out the important elements”, they explain, “In order to find the right concept, we like to walk around in the studio, to look at books, listen to music, and have conversations. It took a long time to develop the studio’s visual language, as well as our way of working, but the years of working together allowed us to get there.”

For 2021, the studio has a bundle of exciting projects in the pipeline, among them an exhibition connecting several artists under a common theme. “We will obviously work on the communication of the exhibition, but are also responsible for selecting the artists, monitoring the production of works, finding the ideal location – and many other tasks. It is a new challenge for us and a possibility to use our knowledge to raise more awareness for the work of these talented artists that deserve to be shown.”

Looking back on their past projects, the studio has developed a practice which adapts to the needs of every project while pushing its style forward. “There are different projects, different encounters. We are especially happy with the evolution of the studio and our background. We are happy to be able to pass our experience and our vision of the profession on to young graphic designers through workshops”, Florian and Léo tell us, and then sum up their hopes and dreams for the future of the studio: “Continue to produce, continue to communicate, continue to bring the studio to life with the desire that it benefits those close to us.”

Diplomatie Studio

Photography Credits: 
Anaïs Lalitte

 Living the City by Lamm & Kirch

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