Margot Lévêque on the design of the book of photographer Aude Le Barbey and her collaboration with Ines Cox

The portfolio of graphic and type designer Margot Lévêque is continuing to grow as it should, building upon her distinctive visual language. Since we last wrote about her a couple of months ago, Margot has worked on an exciting range of projects and collaborations, among them the new photography book by Aude Le Barbey with Ines Cox. The Paris-based designer works for clients and design studios worldwide, while also taking time to set up her type foundry. “I’m working alone so it takes time—but it’s very important for me to focus on my typefaces without a client involved! In the end, it’s like a meditation: I turn my phone off, listen to a good podcast and focus only on my personal work.”

Since the end of 2019, Margot has taken over the design and creative direction of Paris-based photographer Aude Le Barbey’s book, an artistic documentary that “shines a spotlight on the ‘silent world’,” like Orlane Le Bouteiller, the author of the book’s preface puts it. “Confined and inaccessible research sites, abstract forms whose scales are hard to comprehend, and strange creatures, appearing mysterious and fascinating. With an outsider’s eye, she intrudes into the darkness of the laboratory and transforms the scientific into the aesthetic. Using this approach, she examines the idea of perspective as she juxtaposes the gaze of the artist with that of the lab technician, and questions the impact of machines on our knowledge of the living world: how can we understand the invisible? How can we convey what the naked eye can’t see?” 

In this way, the images of Aude Le Barbey question our relationship with nature through those fragmented, amplified, and incomprehensible representations. “Bordering on science-fiction, this photographic project immerses us into a silent, unreachable space, floating weightlessly between the abyss and the depths of space,” Orlane proceeds in the preface. “Aude Le Barbey combines the wild with the scientific, in order to show how the microscopic can evoke the immense, the universal. Profoundly fascinated by the underwater world since childhood, she has produced an ode to the ocean, celebrating the richness of this impenetrable expanse whilst lamenting its alarming decline.”

At the end of 2020, Margot decided to get designer and visual artist Ines Cox on board, to collaborate on the cover design of the book. “Aude used to show me her work in her mood board. Very often, my clients or collaborators put works of other graphic designers in their mood boards. I still find it hard to understand why they don’t ask the graphic designer directly to design their project, rather than me. It’s a mystery!” Margot tells us. “In this case it was different: Aude and I have known each other for a long time. She’s from Normandy, like me. But, that’s why I reached out to Ines. I think it’s great to work with people who inspire us, as the project takes on a bigger perspective.”

Aude’s photographs are deeply inspired by nature. Most of her work is composed of still lives and landscapes, creating a simple, natural, and poetic aesthetic. To translate her photographic style into the design of the book, Margot left a lot of whitespaces to let the images speak for themselves. “It was a quite intuitive process for me,” she explains, “Aude’s photographs are very inspiring, poetic, minimalist but also very sentimental. This project takes time because we take the time. Aude is not in a hurry and it feels good to work like this. She travels a lot; sometimes there were even weeks or months when we didn’t talk to each other… it was just perfect! With each step back, the project keeps getting better and better.”

To balance between her work schedule and her personal life, Margot practices both yoga and meditation, and also enjoys traveling from time to time. While her type foundry is taking shape more and more, she cherishes every collaboration along the way. “Each collaboration is important: each client comes to me with his brief, desires, dreams,” she states. “I think that each project is very different and inspiring, and allows us to learn and grow as a designer.”

Margot Lévêque

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