"We wanted to be free from Helvetica." | Graphic Designers M/M (Paris) | Louisiana Channel



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In this video, founders of M/M (Paris), Mathias Augustyniak and Michaël Amzalag explain how naivety was crucial when cultivating the creative vision for their groundbreaking design studio.

Graphic designers Augustyniak and Amzalag met in 1988 when they were both studying at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Despite coming from very different backgrounds, the two aspiring creatives quickly gravitated towards each other:

“We are very different, but we also share the same moment in history. We were born in the post-war years of happiness, where utopian ideas about education and the future, the idea of progress, and the idea of culture were part of the environment. We are speaking the same language,” Amzalag says about their partnership.

After Amzalag quit art school and Augustyniak had graduated, they were both disinterested in interning or working for agencies. Instead, they decided to work together, founding their collaborative studio M/M (Paris) from a shared approach of creating from a place of both naivete and expertise:

“Every time we try to be naïve in the sense that we approach the thing in a very open way, and experts because obviously, we have the craft and skills to shape the naivety into something that can be performative,” Amzalag says.

“This is the intuitive decision that we made,” Augustyniak continues. “When we started to work together as graphic designers, we rapidly said: We should have our own language.”

This urge to distinguish themselves creatively was what led them to develop their own typefaces, Amzalag explains: “It also comes from this naïve point of view, it’s not about being stupid, but it’s about having this freedom of intention at the very beginning. We often say that letters are like a smaller container of ideologies, and I think that’s why since we started, we have had this practise of creating our own letters because we wanted to be free from others’ ideologies. We wanted to be free from the use of Helvetica and the ideology of modernity; we wanted to be free from the use of neo-classic typeface that addresses a certain type of content and ideology.”

M/M (Paris) was founded in 1992 by Mathias Augustyniak (b. 1967) and Michaël Amzalag (b. 1968). The studio has cemented itself as one of the most distinctive and influential creative practices of its generation, continually defying categorization and pushing the boundaries of graphic design. For thirty years, the duo has been building a visual atlas of the creative landscape, collaborating with fashion designers and brands including Yohji Yamamoto, Loewe, and Prada; contemporary artists such as Sarah Morris, François Curlet, and Pierre Huyghe; musicians Björk, Kanye West, Lou Doillon, Madonna and Vanessa Paradis and many more.
In 2012 Augustyniak and Amzalag received a Grammy Award for their work on Björk’s album “Biophilia” and were named Chevaliers des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. They have exhibited internationally and are included in public and private collections.

Mathias Augustyniak and Michaël Amzalag from M/M (Paris) were interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the opening of their exhibition at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND in December 2021.

Camera: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan and Johan von Bülow

Edit: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan

Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

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