Interview with Frederic Forest

Interview with Frederic Forest

Born and raised in Annecy, the "Pearl of French Alps", Frédéric Forest discovered his first love before he could even write: drawing. 

This passion lead him to Paris to study product design and took him around Europe, working for a host of luxury brands, before settling back into Parisian life where he started with interior and product designer Clémentine Giaconia.their eponymous design studio: Forest & Giaconia,  

However, it is indeed ‘drawing’ that he is best known for with a cult like following stretches across the globe; almost 200k followers as @fredericforest on Instagram and over 3500 people tattooing his artwork on their bodies, the ultimate sign of fandom. 

For Grammatical-Paris - , he spent time doing what he loves the most : drawing in his Parisian studio. The resulting limited prints let us serve as further inspiration for those already converted and the perfect introduction to Forest’s specific style for new fans alike. 

As you can imagine, we feel really honored by this exclusive collaboration and Frédéric wished to share with you a little more about his history and future projects with Grammatical ...

Photos by Nomades - Studio Graphique et Magazine Photographique Lifestyle and Grammatical

Frederic, tell us your story. How did you get get to where you are ? Can you tell us more about yourself? What is the story of Frédéric Forest so far?

I grew up in Annecy, French Alps. I've spent my time for skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding with family and friends, and drawing. Like everyone else, I started drawing before writing. I have not stopped there, I love that. It's a viral emotion. 

But I always wanted to do and desired to do product design. Because it was not about drawing for myself but for a project, for something larger. So, I graduated from ENSCI/Les Ateliers in Paris. While still a student there, I worked alongside on projects for Cartier leathergoods. I left France for Italy and the Adidas Advanced Design Studio in Montebelluna, where I designed for the brand’s high-end sports shoes range. Then, for international luxury firms, I used my approach for brand image, visual identity and product design. In 2008, after various experiences working with designers Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec, Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance and Jean-Marie Massaud, I set up with Clémentine Giaconia our own design consultancy studio FRST (partner with houses and brands), and an eponymous studio Forest.Giaconia (furniture and interior design with editors, and private projects).

What about your drawings ?

As for my drawings, I've never looked for a professional life. Instagram has cut a new part in my life, and made my drawings evolved so far. I love to draw, and that for as long as I can remember. Just draw and think about something else. That was very personal and now the drawings are sent worldwide… Maybe, this is because they are personal at first. This is also why I don't sell all of them. Presently, there are two people who work with me on both art commissions and shipping works. 

It went very far indeed…

I’m more than glad to have collaborated with such great people such as Rosa and Rich with their Cereal magazine, Nick Knight and his ShowStudio who asked me to follow the Paris Fashion Week, Nathan and his Kinfolk magazine that I still be a fan, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar. There are also several good projects with great houses and brands such as Chanel, Hermes, Bang & Olufsen, Dita Eyewear… 

There was also this beautiful project with the art director David Souffan and Lancôme during their worldwide campaign of the Women’s Day. This drawing of "Self Love" has been a crazy audience. 

And now I collaborate with on exclusive and limited prints.


You have many creative talents, such as draughtsman and running your own design studio. How did you come to love drawing and how did you cultivate your career in drawing while also operating a design studio?

Like everyone else, I started drawing before writing . I have not stopped there, I love that. Drawing is always part of design job, but aside that, during the evenings, I did it just for me according to my mood.

I have been interviewing creatives around the world for a while now. I am very aware of the term ‘inspiration’ from their point of view. It is mostly a result of random moments. But what about the influences?

Inspiration is a result of random moments running in my head and stealing everything I see. These moments could be everything, a smell, a sound, someone who you cross in the street, a cloth or its detail... My influences are around the edges, in photography, surf, fashion, skateboard, gastronomy, snowboard, music, travel, typography, ski, dance, poetry, colour and light. They enable me to express new feelings and suggest new stories, whatever the scale of the project.

I can’t remember where I read it, but you said in one of your interviews ‘A project is a dialogue’ which I hundred percent agree. Good idea can come along sort of different forms, but the execution and right brief are the keys. My question is what kind of projects would you like to work on in the future?

The list could be quite long. I would love to work on a hotel , villas, and there are projects that we can not stop to work on such as timepieces, boats

Having experience in many different fields (design, interior, art direction and illustration), what would you say has been your favorite role?

My favorite role is to not having a specific one. The most important thing is the relationship that you create with people, clients, customers, collaborators, audience, etc. This is where is the quality of projects.

How crazy is so many of your followers think you are a tattoo artist?

I'm stoked about that world, this tattoo audience. I’ve never expected that one day someone that I don’t would tattoo on of my drawings. Noway. Now, as far that I can count, there more than 3.500 around the world. For example, a man has inked on his body 4 drawings in one time, a woman did her first tattoo with one drawing that embracing all her back. But the most craziest thing is that more than 80% of them are their really first tattoo. Really crazy ! I think that is because I don't draw faces. Not so much. I used to but I didn't find the right lines. So, I guess that is the main point : Everyone can think about some in specific way because the drawings are focused on attitude, moment and gesture.

What do you think about social media in general? Obviously, it helps to artists/designers to get international recognition but on the other hand unexperienced really digital youth gets 

First of all, three years ago, I had an old smartphone and I used Instagram such as a cloud and for personal pictures only. Zero followers. Then, Clementine and I decided to close our websites and update them with new contents and art direction. It takes time. So, I started to post some images of our design work on my account, and some drawings, just like that, to show our work in progress, a kind of artwork, something aside that feed us, something that I do every time I can, something very personal at first… And it started to be out of control. No business plan at all.

Yes, its viral diffusion and its large feed. We live in this connected world. Everyday, you can find great things and ideas. It is something that can make you do better and evolve. I look at it such as someone else is looking at me. It's a continual running dialogue. An open diary. In a way It's like a mirror with two sides.

And no, because it is also a decoy, something that is definitely not real and about fast consuming. It mainly sells a false dream. This is the tricky thing with this connected world : we want it fast but with sustainability. Good things take time. It's crazy how the manners have gone with smartphone attitude. Incivility has grown too much. Life is unscreenable. Most of my impacts come from reality, walking in the streets, chatting with friends, meeting people, going to museums or bookstores, reading magazines, taking pictures, drawing, traveling, skiing, skateboarding, surfing, running…

What is your design approach as a duo?

Clémentine Giaconia is an interior designer and product designer. We design duet. As woman with man, we cross our experiences and inspirations.Together we sign projects where the object and space form a whole, in a consistency of line and evidence materials. First we must surprise ourselves, otherwise others probably won’t be surprised by what we do. This is one of the advantages of working in tandem : good ideas grow by themselves and the bad ones disappear along the way.

Since we set up our design studio, we have worked across a wide range of disciplines, creating everything from furniture and household objects to commercial stores or private restaurant, yacht, jewelry and timepiece. Confendiality is our first concern. Never talking, never showing before the client agreement. They are mainly luxury houses with high-end knowledges and know-how. We are committed to respecting the charter of confidentiality of our customers every day.

Your main focus is design, only because it involves more creativity and focus more than drawing. Would you be agreed?

My artwork is about drawing. My main focus is design. Actually, I love them all, I have no favorites. Each field provides a new way to look at the other ones and this nourishes each aspect for me. Because they are all so very different: drawing stops on the paper, but paper is just the beginning for design.

Drawing is always part of a being a designer. It is the first word, the starting point, then it develops several sentences and eventually becomes the answers we were looking for. Then it turns into something else: from modeling to the final, real product.  

But the main thing is the number of people that are involved. A design project is very much a casting process from the client’s team, our design studio team, the partners, suppliers, retailers, etc … A good team of clients means that the brief will be good, which means that it will provide us with a good challenge; which then means good design, which finally turns into a good product. 

When I’m drawing, however, I'm unequivocally alone. It all has to come from me. It's like skiing or surfing. No matter the project or end-idea, I need to trust myself, go with it, and let it all flow naturally. 

Obviously, you appreciate woman figure. It is a predominate theme in your work and I am personally drawn to the beautiful ways in which you draw them. What inspired you to draw women as eloquently as you do?

Thank you for your words. Well, I grew up into a feminine family, with a mother, sisters, aunts, grandmothers. I try to draw women like they are, not like I would like them to be. But I draw males too. Women have always been a main inspiration. Actually, I don't draw faces. Not so much. I used to but I didn't find the right lines. So I guess that is the main point : Everyone can think about someone in specific way because the drawings are focused on attitude, poses moment and gesture.

Your drawings of women’s figures seem so minimal in stroke, yet so rich in emotion. I love how you portray women’s bodies with such careful curves, elegance and even respect. Your drawings of women, make me proud to be a woman and proud of my body. With everything that has been going on in the news, regarding gender inequality, female objectification and #MeToo, do you see your work as an outlet or a way to speak to/inspire others on how women should be seen and respected? 

I’ve received this kind of education base on respect and humble feelings without stopping me from enjoying life. There comes my attitude to not be up to decide things for others. But when there is a blatant injustice about a person because she/he is different in color, religion or without religion, shape or age, That’s really makes me mad.

# like that should not be necessary, because women and men fought for rights that few people are insidiously withdrawing. But, unfortunately, they are. They are saying that we must not fall asleep and must not ignore that this still exist and that we must still denounce, while we are in 2018 ... That’s one the shame of our history with the destruction of our environment. Our time should be progressive. And I'm one of those many men who regret the retrograde behavior of these violent predators. Now, the real question is whether such a word could have prevented one of them from becoming a president of a country that I love. 

So, if my drawings can help someone in one way or another, then I'm delighted, because it's no longer about art but about leverage, strength and an appeasement for something good and important.

Does it get hard to express what you see while translating to the paper? 

Drawing an "etude" doesn't take a very long time. But coming to draw one takes time. Finding the right pose, the perfect light, the most important aspect of the image that I have in mind, and the perfect tool. What then appears on the paper is a whole other phase …

Apparently, you are working on several book projects. Can you tell us more about that?

There is a current project that I love to work on : it’s a free collaboration with the French photographer Quentin Simon who has a very natural approach. We liked the idea of having a dialogue between our works and we spoke about architecture, trips in Spain and the Barcelona pavilion drawn by Mies Van der Rohe. Fairly quickly, we have focused on the sculpture of Georg Kolbe laid in the recess of the water basin : Alba. This suspended time when light and shadow are facing each other. For us, she was the beginning of the building, but also a prisoner of her reflection in the water but also in the marble and glass, thereby creating the sensation that she is multiplied in space. So, we started to imagine the rest of her story, how she would go out, where would she go, what she would do in other places, new sites, other architectures…

And there are some others in progress : an art books serie with only drawings, and more to come…

What is next for you? Where will be seeing your name?

Those that I don't know yet…

What would you advise to young creatives?

It could be easy to tell the different footsteps that I tried and what happened. But it's hard to show a guide on that. The main thing is the work. Listen, look, travel, learn, read, work, try and do it again and again. If you stop learning, there is a problem. You have to understand how really works the industry, whatever it's about the art system, fashion, furniture, wine & spirit, timepiece, architecture, jewelry, interior… and so the technics, factories, suppliers, people, merchandising, store, network, medias… These are the main clues to find and create your own way.

Thanks Frédéric!

Merci à vous !