In 1994, Eric Morand, cofounder of the techno label F Communication with DJ Laurent Garnier, declared: ‘We give a French touch to house music’. The term ‘French Touch’ came to designate a movement in French electronic music that rapidly became famous on the international scene and involved all the visual artists – graphic designers, video directors, VJs – involved in this music. Never have graphic design and music been so closely associated as during the 90s and early 2000s.
Electronic music invented a veritable visual identity for itself. And often the collaboration of graphic designers with emerging independent labels was shaped by constraints and basic principles: the absence of photo budget, the musicians’ desire to remain anonymous, and the arrival of the Macintosh and its simplicity as a design tool. French labels emerged, such as F Communication, founded by Eric Morand and Laurent Garnier and aided by graphic designer Geneviève Gauckler, who had only just graduated from the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs. The Solid label, founded by Alex Goffer, Etienne de Crécy and Pierre-Michel Levallois, worked with the H5 collective, created the same year, some of whose work – the Super Discount album cover by Etienne de Crecy and the Child video by Alex Goffer – have become emblematic of a whole generation. The Yellow label, created by Alan Hô and Christophe le Friant, alias Bob Sinclar, enlisted the talents of Serge Nicolas.
These graphic designers, fresh out of school, broke free from the teaching they had received at college, with its insistent reference to the Polish and Swiss schools and the militant graphic design of the Grapus collective, and looked to Anglo-Saxon post-modernist graphic designers such as Peter Saville, Neville Brody and Designers Republic for their inspiration. M/M accompanied this music scene by creating the fanzine EdEN and designing disk jackets for the Micronautes.
Graphically, this was also the heyday of the flyers that publicised each club evening and became a creative showcase for personalities such as La Shampouineuse (Michel Poulain), for Pedro Winter’s soirées at the Folie’s Pigalle, and the photographer Agnés Dahan for the Respect soirées at the Queen. This music-graphic design-video symbiosis was taken to its paroxysm by the group Daft Punk and their studio Daft Art.
Through flyers, album covers, videos, the exhibition French Touch. Graphisme / vidéo / électro introduces this common history which the global reach has allowed these designers to impose themselves and to open their practice to other fields.
October 10, 2012 – March 31, 2013
Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris