Paper art is all about transformation. Paper sculptures were once just slim sheets of paper, plain and unmarked. And before that they were living, breathing trees.
Zim&Zou is a French creative studio made up of Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann. The two work with installations and specialise in paper sculpture. Colour, detail and craftsmanship are at the heart of their studio. Past clients include: Hermès, IBM, Le Monde, BNP, The Washington Post and Der Spiegel.
There’s something really breathtaking about the simplicity of a material as everyday as paper being used to form something new, especially when the something new is an expertly crafted 3D object. Whether it’s an impressive paper burger for the cover of Icon magazine or their Back-to-Basics series of paper Polaroid cameras, cassette tapes, and even floppy disks, the duo manage to capture the real essence of an object’s form. Detail is the most gobsmacking thing about their work, and their creations are often adorned with teeny-tiny letters cut from paper. Their paper art has a real tangible, lifelike feel to it, and as an added bonus, the pieces are all in glorious technicolour.
How do you come up with the ideas for your pieces?
It depends if the project is a commission or a personal project. Most of the time clients come to us with a brief so we have to grapple with a subject and give our spin on it. When it’s personal, the idea is inspired by our surrounding, nature and things we’re interested in. For example our ‘Cabinet de Curiosités’ was about the ancestors of museums in Renaissance Europe. These cabinets were exhibiting objects belonging to natural history, geology, relics and sometimes including fake objects. That’s what we found fascinating.
What kind of paper do you use?
We use a lot of papers, with different weights, textures and colors. The papers are carefully chosen depending on the type of project. We have a predisposition for flashy papers (as in the Back-to-Basics project), but we can also use glitter or translucent papers.
Which exhibitions has your work popped up in?
Our work was shown at Pick Me Up in London (UK), the FRAC Nord-Pas-de-Calais (FR), the Santorini Biennale in Greece, Platine festival in Cologne (DE), Saisons du grand Cerf in Paris (FR), and at the Toutouchic gallery in Metz (FR).
Were you both crafty as kids?
Of course, and we have tried to keep this ‘childlike’ aspect in our work.
You studied graphic design at university, how did you move on to paper sculpture?
It came really naturally since we were approached by clients for this kind of work. We really wanted to move out from the screen and create things with our hands. Sculpting paper is more fun for us, so the choice was pretty obvious!
Do you both illustrate, design and craft or do you have different skills?
We do everything together, since the first step to the last small retouch. This permits us to confront our views, which can be different sometimes. It’s like ‘ping pong’ between us, this helps us to get the best result at the end. But we do have our preferences, for example, I prefer cutting small pieces when Lucie prefers gluing things.
What kind of homeware pieces do you own?
Not much, we like ’empty’ spaces with minimalist decoration. We have a few posters, my favorite is an awesome poster of French designers Antoine&Manuel with a lot of different printing techniques. I just can’t stop looking at it.
What do you do for fun?
We do personal projects for fun, but when it’s not for work we love (like everyone I guess) partying with friends, traveling or just losing ourselves in the forest, far from the city with our crazy dog called Plume.