Interview: Atelier Bingo
29.01.20 Words by Wrap

Interview: Atelier Bingo

From artist residencies in Japan, to collaborations with fashion brands such as Gorman – we talk to Adèle and Maxime about their recent creative adventures and their new home studio space.
29.01.20 Words by Wrap

Six years ago, we spoke to Maxime Prou and Adèle Favreau, the French design duo who make up Atelier Bingo for our tenth edition of Wrap magazine. Since then the couple have had lots of opportunity to experiment, branching into new mediums of design through collaborations with fashion and design brands including Gorman, Element, GUR and Le Bon Marché department store in Paris. Their bold abstract artworks across collage, screen printing and ceramics explore shape and colour – creating pieces that are vibrant and full of life. We caught up with them to learn about their recent artist residency in Japan, their move to be nearer a city and how working from a home studio is so important for their practice.

How do you think your work developed since you were last featured in Wrap?

It’s crazy that it’s been six years already, we were really young. So many things have evolved since then – we’ve had so many projects all over the world and our dreams have come true with various collaborations and incredible encounters. We’ve worked with fashion and design brands including Gorman, Element, Octaevo and GUR, and with bands we’ve always admired such as The Burning Hell; and we’ve been able to continue our personal work in silkscreen printing, engraving, and wood carving. We’ve also had exhibitions, including one last year at a fabulous stationery and typography shop in Milan called Bonvini 1909. It’s hard to sum up six years, but we can tell you that we still find a lot of pleasure in our work and think we're very lucky. We try not to lose our youth.

Has the way you work together changed over time? How do you share things out?

I could lie and tell you that it's easier but that's not really the case. We try to question ourselves continuously in our projects, and we often disagree, but that’s what we like in the workshop – it’s important to share points of view and make compromises so that we each have input into our images. From a logistical point of view, there are some daily tasks that we separate. Maxime takes care of the technical side of the silkscreen printing and the shipping from our online shop. Adèle takes care of the administrative side, which leaves us both time to create, experiment and draw new images!

You’ve moved since we last talked to you. What prompted that?

We wanted to live near a city again, and we wanted a garden for our dog Donut. We searched for three years before we found this house in Clisson, which we are absolutely delighted with. It had been converted from a barn into a house/workshop by a leather goods company. We are just 15 minutes from Nantes, so we feel like we’ve found a perfect combination of the dynamism of the city and a small village in the middle of the vineyards. It is really nice to be able to do everything by bike again (Adèle still doesn't have her driving licence, even after six years of isolated life…), to go to the market and to be able to have a drink in the evening in the local bar!

Can you describe your new space and your favourite things about it?

The new workshop looks a lot like the old one, just a bit smaller and with heating, which we appreciate in the winter! We really love the atmosphere of it, its brightness and especially the new garden. We love working at home and being able to share our personal and professional life in such a simple way. The workshop is a very important place for our work process, it means we are able to experiment, to feel free and not be interrupted, which helps our creativity to thrive.

Is it hard to strike a work-life balance when you have a home studio?

Sometimes it can be more difficult to take weekends off or go on holiday. It’s a life choice that we do sometimes question, but perhaps it’s the price of freedom. Furthermore, our work deals with everyday topics, because that's what inspires us, so it’s important to embed the development of our work into our everyday routine.

How do the techniques you use, such as collage and screen printing, inform your work?

Collage is the starting point of all our work, it allows us to create a dialogue together through images. We have boxes of materials, and the discovery of new papers will trigger new visuals. It is an eternal process. We start from a collage to create an image – we never use a computer – and then develop it using silkscreen printing. It's really interesting to work out how a small collage can keep its strength in a bigger printed image – we love the challenge of it! We have had some bad surprises with screen printing, but we have experimented a lot and over the years have learned to tame it. We like to use lots of different techniques and mediums these days – oil colours, pencils, Indian ink. We have also been working a lot in wood lately, cutting it like paper and using it to compose a collage on a wall. Working in new contexts allows us to create new perspectives in our images.

You recently completed an artist residency at the porcelain wares company Made by Kihara in Japan. Tell us about your experiences there and the work you created as part of the programme.

We were lucky to be the first artists invited to participate in this project, and spent five days in the region of Arita, at the heart of the porcelain industry in Japan. We met the team from Kihara and visited different places, from the quarry where they extract the raw material to the factories that transform it. It was an incredible experience! We created three porcelain collections as part of the residency – some pieces we began before we went to Japan (the ‘Preview Collection’), imagining how the culture, atmosphere and landscapes would inspire us. And then whilst we were there, we spent time in one of the workshops developing our pieces with collage and gold leaf to create 15 unique plates. We were also able to choose some pieces off their workshop shelves to draw on directly and decorate (the ‘View Collection’), and these were launched exclusively at Maison & Object trade fair in Paris this January. When we came back, we worked on our final pieces (the ‘Review Collection’), inspired by the pictures we accumulated during our stay, and all the small details so insignificant for the Japanese but so incredible for us Europeans.

What did you most enjoy or take away from your time in Japan?
We feel like we lived in another time and space during these five days. They were incredible days visiting Arita and its surroundings, discovering the process of making porcelain, talking with the craftsmen, working in the workshops, walking in the mountains, eating sublime dishes, and just being amazed by everything!

What should we look out for from Atelier Bingo in 2020?
If only we knew! Lots of surprises we hope.