Living Life In Technicolor With Zim & Zou’s Tangible Art

Exclusive Fizzy Mag Q&A


Super colourful & explosive French duo, Zim&Zou, composed of Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann are taking over the world with their out of this world craftmanship skills and we asked them a little about what it takes to be paper masters.

You describe yourselves as a “Polyvalent duo” graphic design studio, so can you give us the scoop on the science behind what makes your partnership tick?
We’re polyvalent because paper craft is very demanding. When working on a project the process goes through conceptual sketches, tracing pieces in illustrator, 3d drawing when it’s required, exploding 3D to 2D patterns, handmade cutting, gluing, assembling, installing, photo shooting, retouching, and so on… We’re trying to do every step together so we can have a constant feedback on what we’re doing. When discussing an issue we always have to find a compromise, so when we come up with a new piece it’s like a mix of our two brains. Pretty freaky… 

We love the zany, colour popping palette that’s painted, like a signature, across your projects. How did you decide on that spectrum, and, if you were told you could only work with one colour on a project, which one would you pick?
It’s our way to interpret reality. One of our early project was a paper game boy, the grey controller. We found it quite cool, but it was too realistic and something was missing. So we decided to stick to the precise shape of the object, but making it so colorful that you’ll see directly that it’s not a real object. This contrast is what we were looking for. Plus this neon color code was quite popular in the 80s, so it was quite logical considering that we were sculpting vintage objects. Then it became a kind of signature, even if we keep exploring other color schemes. If we had to chose just one color, i think it would be white. I know, that’s not really considered as a color by everyone but I think white makes it easier for people to project their mood or feelings on an installation. 

The toy-like, visual style of the weapons that appear in the ‘Douceur / Douleur’ project do a great job of disarming the power of weapons, by cutely reassembling them. How important is the “message” of your work? Does it hold equal importance with creating aesthetically cool pieces, for people to enjoy?
Of course the message is very important to us. We like when a project goes further than just being decorative. Recently we’ve worked on projects about child vaccination, GMOs, pesticides or even children soldiers as in the project you mentioned. I think that, like every artist, we would like to feel our work can be useful at its small scale. But we also like working on lighter subjects where we just tell a story, like a child book. 

Your ‘Back To Basics’ project works like a kitsch and colourful tribute to all things vintage tech, but how do you feel about newer tech, like 3 & 4D printing? Will there ever be a place for that in what you do?
The Back to Basics project was indeed a tribute to retro technology. It can be considered as ‘geek art’ that’s not a problem at all for us. But this project was also asking a question about the increasing fast obsolescence of our everyday devices, where the newest smart phone can quickly become a relic. We’re often considered as technophobic because we refuse to use laser cutting or other industrial production process. We like the idea of craftsmanship and imperfection, that’s what makes an object unique after all. I think that 3D printing is a huge revolution in a lot of fields. Even if we don’t plan to use it for now, we can see so many applications in the design industry that we might use this technology one day… but it would be totally different from what we’re doing actually. In fact, we’re very open minded about technology, you can’t even imagine how hard I’m waiting to be able to fly a spaceship with an occults rift…

What’s your personal favourite piece you’ve created together, so far: the one thing, had someone else made it, you would have seen it and let out a “wow, awesome!”?
We have some preferences, but our projects are like our babies, and you can’t say which one you like the most! Even if the last one is often your favorite, you can’t tell it to the other ones!

When you’re getting started on a new project, where do you go / look for inspiration, and do you have anything new in the pipeline right now?
As a lot of designers nowadays, I think that inspiration comes from everywhere. We’re surrounded by images and informations. So, to find inspiration, we’re checking our books, we get lost on the internet, remind the exhibitions or movies we saw, have a walk in the forest, talk together… and when we feel like an idea is worst spending days or weeks on it, we just rush.