A little animated tiger sticks his tongue out at me as I reach the end of a recent email exchange with Papier Tigre’s co-founder, Maxime Brenon. The character’s endearing little grin tickles me every time - it’s cheeky, fun and just so likeable. The same can be said of the brand’s approach to design, retail and creativity.
Founded by Julien Crespal, Agathe Demoulin and Maxime Brenon, the trio have been playing with paper since 2011, creating stationery, home accessories and wares for the office. The designers are recognised for their use of graphic prints, eclectic patterns and quirky colourways. They also pay special attention to the provenance of their materials (metals, fabrics, wood) and use interesting recycled paper stocks to give their goods a little more oomph.
Papier Tigre was one of the very first brands we stocked here at Papersmiths, and over the last three years they’ve become close paper pals. They’re always full of thoughtful gestures too; a personalised hot-foiled journal was their gift to our founder, Sid, for her recent big birthday milestone.
We wanted to know more about their love of travel, how magical it must have been to work with scent savants Diptyque, and how everything they touch turns into a rainbow.
Hello! Can you sum up Papier Tigre’s kaleidoscopic journey over the last six years?
Exciting! Yeah, it’s been an epic journey and these six years happened so fast. When we look over our shoulder we realize how much we’ve done. We were three when we decided that the development needed to start with the opening of our first shop in the Paris creative area. We were not shop owners and had to learn everything about it. Even though it was quite challenging, it was also very rewarding. We’re now seven and have just opened a shop, office and tea salon in Tokyo - can you believe it?
Tell us about your different roles in the the creative process? If you could identify one thing that you all have in common, what would it be?
Agathe and Julien have a creative background, and they are both in charge of the graphic design and art direction. The rest of the team is also creatively involved - everyone gives his point of view and makes sure Papier Tigre keeps on innovating and moving forward.
I guess we all have a passion for the new and innovation, in addition with our love for food and cooking :-)
As product designers and stationery connoisseurs, we imagine you’ve all got pencil cases to die for. Do you have any favorite go-to tools for creating?
Hell yeah, you can’t imagine how many new tools we bring from our trips to Japan :-)
Agathe found a lot of x-actos sizes and shapes to cut her cardboard things, and Julien has this thing with calipers - don’t ask me why, he just loves to test new ones… and of course pencils are at the top of our list!
We love your retail spaces and the sneak peeks of your atelier, but we’re intrigued to know what goes on behind the scenes in the more private Papier Tigre places. For example, at our Bristol store we have a big basement full of our stock. It’s a satisfyingly organised, packed-to-the-rafters Aladdin’s cave, and we wouldn’t be able to make any of the magic happen without it!
Since our team and business is growing quite rapidly we are facing some interesting challenges with room. Our office is at the back of the Paris shop, we have only 80 sq meters to stock all of our babies, and all of the team and the computers. You can easily imagine how messy it can be!
Paris has so many cultural areas that we’re sure you frequent, but are there any lesser-known, perhaps unexpected, spots that you go to feel creatively rejuvenated?
Yeah, we are lucky to have access to the green sides of the city - either to a family house or apartment outside Paris or a dog to walk in the big Vincennes park. These moments out of the busy, loud and stressful areas are quite essential to keeping us thinking, and moving forward.
You’re keen adventurers, and travel to Europe, New York and Japan regularly for inspiration. Where’s next?
Indeed, we spend more and more time on planes, either to meet with our Japanese partners, friends in NYC or weekends away in Lisbon or Rome. We don’t know what will be the next step but we’re sure it’ll involve a new culture. It’s so important to us to challenge ourselves with different points of views. Our world is getting globalized so it is important to know what’s happening on the other side of the planet.
You’ve teamed up with Diptyque, Kerzon and Happy Socks and turned out special-edition products like sunglasses, nail varnish, and hand embroidered badges. What would be your dream collaboration? We think you’d make pretty awesome birthday cakes…
Haha, That is a VERY good question. We’ve never actually asked any brand for a collaboration, we just wait for them to come to us! Maybe this is the key to a good collaboration?
What’s the most weird yet wonderful object in your studio?
We have CDroms, it starts to get weird in 2017 doesn’t it?
We’re throwing a paper dinner party. Who would you invite and why?
Adele. I’m sure we could be friends.