I was invited as one of 39 international designers to design a poster for the streets of Paris under the title 'Celebrate the City'. The brief was short – a design to celebrate, not specifically Paris, but any city. Simple is good but not necessarily the same as easy. The city is many things. Above all perhaps, it is from its shared collective nature that it derives its power, a home and place of work for so many where the diversity of its inhabitants, individual and unique, combine to create a collective dynamic – individual trajectories that form a tapestry, sometimes chaotic, sometimes uniform but always with a marked identity. There are as many ways to define the city as there are stories to tell about it, and each invited designer recreated their own reading. For me it was a story about the sum and its parts, moving independently but with a collective dynamic.
The arrow is a simple graphic sign and I used it in an attempt to symbolize movement and direction in every sense of the term, not simply physical. It is of course also associated with urban signage. The arrows are combined together so as to create a collective presence, and like the city itself, can be viewed from close and from far, as a pattern or as unique components. Within the design, in addition to the title, I included a text, suitably situationist in reference – "Nous ne sommes pas simplement observateurs du spectacle, nous en faisons nous-même partie" (We are not simply observers of the spectacle, we are ourselves part of it). The electricity of the city – its human energy – led me to limit the colour palette, as I imagined the contrast of the black and yellow with the poster backlit at night.
Some posters have a sort of independence, unhindered by physical context, but in this particular work it had seemed to me beforehand that its location would define its existence. Consequently, it was only complete for me as a work on seeing it in the locations for which it was designed, and particularly in my mind, at night.
The 39 posters were placed in locations all over Paris – approximately 10 different sites for each one. Later they came together in one display on the Champs-Élysées.