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Maxime Woeffray: In conversation

Maxime Woeffray is a graphic designer and founder of Studio Maxime Woeffray and FORMA EDITIONS. We take a look inside Maxime's London studio and discuss with him life in London, his love for print, minimalism, conceptual art and modernism as well as the power of 'connection'.

Words by MAXIME WOEFFRAY of FORMA EDITIONS Location LONDON

TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AND HOW YOU ENDED UP IN LONDON. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE CITY?

I relocated to London from Switzerland in 2014. That was right after graduating from uni, where I studied graphic design and visual communication. My initial driver was work, but the perspective of a new personal experience was also very much present. London is a really buzzing city, especially coming from quiet Switzerland. I immediately had a feeling of overall "connection", it's one of those places where you feel you are surrounded by opportunities and inspiration in many forms. I think it was a perfect ground to start my career. Even though being out of your home country's comfort can be challenging at first, learning and having to adapt to a different culture is really fulfilling. There is a strong energy to London that makes me feel right where I should be and gives me the ability to connect with people from around the globe easily.

THE WORLD OF PRINT, ITS TACTILITY AND INFORMATION PROVIDE A WELCOME CONTRAST TO THE DIGITAL NOISE THAT SURROUNDS US. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO START PUBLISHING HOUSE, FORMA EDITIONS?

FORMA EDITIONS came to life very gradually and naturally. I had the desire to build something on my own, with the freedom that comes with it. Being a graphic designer with a background in print, publishing was an obvious choice. Whilst it started as a personal project, it really grew through collaborations. Aside from the creative process, it is a thrill to deal directly with so many different people from various backgrounds like writers, distributors, printers, and artists and photographers, of course.

WHAT FEELINGS DO PRINT, PAPER AND BOOKS EVOKE FOR YOU?

There is a sense of stillness that I value with books or any print object. It is a good way to escape the constant feed of information and images we have on our phones and focus on one body of work. Materiality and shape also offer endless and unique ways to translate ideas or bring to life the essence of a piece of work.

HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE RESPONSE FOR FORMA EDITIONS? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR VOICE AND POINT OF DIFFERENCE?

It has been fascinating to see how the different publications and works have had different responses and attracted different audiences. I am always humbled when I see people who followed FORMA from the beginning and still do today. When you create something of your own, you need to put so much about yourself in it. To see that people respond to it and show interest is the best feeling. One of my main motivations is to be able, in my own way, to support young artists and photographers and to offer them a platform to show their work. The artists have also done a lot for FORMA as they bring their own followers to our platform, who in turn discover more artists. I hope that by working hard, we can keep this momentum to reach an ever-growing audience.

THE INTERNET AND INSTAGRAM ARE A GREAT TOOL TO CONNECT WITH LIKE-MINDED CREATIVES. HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE INTERNET HAS IMPACTED YOUR WORK?

Instagram was definitely a key tool in the development of FORMA. It has and still is one of the main communication outlets for any work I produce with artists. That being said, I am feeling less and less attracted to it. It drastically changed over the years and sadly not for the best. I am frustrated with their rigid censorship rules or the standardisation the algorithms bring to our feeds. We need to be aware of the limits of this tool and not forget the more traditional communication outlets like quality press, websites or events. I keep telling myself to pursue a more varied and balanced way of communicating, which, to be honest, is much more work than pressing 'post'. Besides social media, I feel really grateful to be living in an age where opening an online store is simple and affordable. It does really help small businesses and has definitively made it possible for me to launch FORMA.

WHAT IS CURRENTLY INSPIRING YOU?

Since the lockdown eased in London, I have given myself the mission to discover as many local art galleries as possible and to take the time to go and see their shows. I am very surprised that there are so many in my neighbourhood that I have missed for so long, just because I had been focusing on larger museums.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE ARTISTS OR DESIGNERS OF THE MOMENT?

I can’t just name one but I am very inspired by minimalism, conceptual art and modernism. I recently saw Peter Hujar's work at Maureen Paley's Gallery in Bethnal Green. I love his work.

YOUR STUDIO IS VERY MINIMAL, YET WARM. IS YOUR HOME THE SAME? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR INTERIOR EXPRESSION AT HOME?

I do collect many things, and whilst it can get out of hands quickly, I try to keep my studio as functional as possible. My home is a more personal and cosier version of it.

WHAT MAKES A HOME, A HOME? ARE THERE ANY KEY ELEMENTS YOU VALUE?

I like a home to be a warm and welcoming place that reflects its owner's personality rather than magazine-like overly curated interior. It needs to have life to it. I value pieces that are linked to a story, either personal or cultural. I love to collect objects from my travels that remind me of that time when I look at them.

FAVOURITE ITEMS FROM FOURTH ST?

The paperweight brass egg, definitely. It sits proudly on my desk. I also love the simplicity of the ivory clay pitcher, which I use every day.

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