Invincible Été : Portrait


"Un Invincible Été"…Expression of Albert Camus on the one hand, pretty French brand making its letters of nobility to the cyanotype herbarium on the other hand. One in the other, there emerges an impression of nature an eternal sunshine at home. Meeting with its co-creator, who join forces with the French wallpaper publisher, Paper mint for a collection of stripes presented exclusively at Fleux.

"Un Invincible Été"… Expression of Albert Camus on the one hand, pretty French brand making its letters of nobility to the cyanotype herbarium on the other hand. One in the other, there emerges an impression of nature, an eternal sun at home. This unique technique sicnce 1842 come back is back among us to dazzle our interiors. A process imbued with poetry and delicacy, combining patience and know-how.
This unique beauty of the nature is immortalized and available today with us ! The cyanotype gives us a beautiful place to our walls thanks to PaperMint, a French publisher of wallpapers produced in France. Born from this pretty collaboration, eight strips imagined in authentic Prussian blue and timeless beige are presented exclusively at Fleux !

In the middle of the winter, I discovered in myself an invicible summer.

Can you tell us more about your background and introduce us to "Invincible Été" ?

For 25 years, I have been editor-in-chief at Marie Claire Idées. But at the same time, I have always pursued projects in the craft industry, in publishing ... I have an undeniable attraction for the handmade. For the artistic field but with a concrete dimension.

I studied at the Estienne Superior School of Arts and Graphic Industries and then studied at the Beaux-Arts in Paris. I will qualify as an artist… with my feet on the ground !

My latest project, Invincible Summer, was born quite unexpectedly: more precisely during a trip to an island in Greece, four years ago. A friend of mine, an American artist, introduced me to the cyanotype technique while on vacation. A box of white powder, a few manipulations and, after the surprise, I was conquered by this forgotten technique !

In four years of school, I had never heard of this process. Marie, editor for 30 years, neither ! I tell him about the project. Marie, somewhat tired of working on the computer and wanting to work on a craft project, was won over by the idea. Both, longtime friends, feel the urge to collaborate together, to combine the experience in editing Marie with my overwhelming desire to create things ... So we have become partners. And as great enthusiasts that we are, we dedicate our weekends and evenings to it and gradually give shape to Invincible été.

Invincible Été is therefore a brand run by Marie and myself. She brings a forgotten technique up to date: that of the cyanotype. The idea is to share this subtle work of plants with as many people as possible.

At our first stand at Maison & Objet, no one in France presented the cyanotype as a decorative object. This process was, before us, only attached to the field of photography. It was the start of a great project.

How did this name come to your mind ?

From the famous quote from Albert Camus "In the middle of winter, I discovered in myself an invincible summer". It's a phrase that resonates particularly with me. Even in times when everything is going badly, we have a sun within ourselves that allows us to hold out.
It's also a phrase that nicely echoes the cyanotype process. This latter is carried out during the summer season, in full sun, with a beautiful light. This is a technique that I discovered at that time as well. A technique that requires sun and water.
We have a summer at home, a summer behind us and a summer in front of us. For me, it is a particularly solar form of poetry.

Where do you get your inspiration from ? Does your double editor's hat for Marie Claire Idées allow you to feed your artistic projects ?

I have always been very curious, always walking through galleries, museums ... Everything, really, interests me: exhibitions, hikes, cinema ... Inspiration is everywhere, without limit.
Marie and I were able to assimilate a lot of knowledge, bathe in the culture through our studies. And this is something that we continue to nurture on a daily basis.
My double hat at Marie Claire Idées allowed me to get to know many artists and artisans, to defend people who work with their hands. It was this sensitivity to handmade that also guided me in my project : I wanted a virtuous brand, which was based on craftsmanship.

How is born the idea of this collaboration with PaperMint ?

We used to present panoramas at the time. Alexandra was one of my acquaintances when I launched PaperMint. In particular, I had followed this project as a journalist. It happened very naturally.

Can you tell us more about the cyanotype process - the updated herbarium ? On the delicacy of this process of creation by hand ?

The cyanotype was born out of an absolutely magnificent story. From a woman named Anna Atkins. In the 1840s, women in England were not allowed to work at the time. Orphan, Anna lives with her father, a researcher and naturalist. Passionate about herbaria, the botanist realizes that chemists and scientists, notably Herschel and Talbot, are working on the photocopying process. She uses this technique to reproduce her herbaria. She dries them and sends them to her relatives. By cyanotype, several herbaria can now be created from the same plant.

The cyanotype has recently returned to the fore. We have the impression that this is a new technique, when it is no more and no less the old generation herbarium and fallen into oblivion ! From the first photographic herbarium in the world, imagined almost 200 years ago ! What is quite surprising is that nothing has changed, it is the same photosensitive solution technique.
Since the beginning of Invincible Eté, we have created herbaria : small, large. And each model is made to scale, at actual size. So it's a very delicate job: the big part of the job is to dry the plants well.

When we do workshops with Marie, we prepare the papers. We use a photosensitive solution, we paint the different papers and put them to dry overnight. The next day, we isolate the papers. We put the ferns and other plant elements on the paper. By a reaction of UV rays produced by sunlight and the paper coated with a photosensitive solution, the various plant imprints are created. UV rays do not pass through where the fern has been deposited. Also, when we remove the fern and after rinsing the paper with water, the solution that was under the fern could not set on the paper. For the rest of the paper, rinsing with water causes a reaction on the paper: it turns blue and gives what is called Prussian blue.

The technique is therefore quite delicate. We do everything by hand: we make our herbaria, we paint, we put and rinse with water, we put in the press ... All of this together. Each piece is therefore unique. The handling can be more complex on very large formats, requiring us to work in pairs.
Everything is therefore carried out in our workshop in Paris or Sceaux. The prints are unique with the exception of the digitized prints. These are included in our cyanotype image bank (a small legacy of our work in editing).
Since the birth of Invincible Été, we have always seen nature through the prism of the cyanotype: we look at a fern, a maple leaf while imagining its footprints ... All of nature looks at us !

Does this project give you the desire to express yourself on new media ? Do you have the will to decline your plant universe ?

Of course we are open to the idea of ​​declining new media. We cannot lead collaborations of our initiative but we are open when beautiful brands or houses come to us : we can start from our digital prints and transpose them on clothes, scarves...

On a daily basis, how does nature have an echo in your life ?

We are both very sensitive to nature. For my part, my family history is closely linked to my work : I come from a large family of botanists and naturalists, whom I knew best for their activities as architects. Several herbaria from my family have also been entrusted to the Natural History Museum. I have always loved botanists' boards, I have always been immersed in this universe. The herbarium is a family heirloom for me.

The last word, a blue object or a vegetal that has recently caught your eye?

Since the birth of Invincible Été, we have always seen nature through the prism of the cyanotype: we look at a fern, a maple leaf, imagining its footprints ... Our vision has thus changed on nature : we are going to do this. Dry the bouquets of flowers that are offered to us, pick up and transpose any piece of plant that catches our eye.