DIPLOMATES > The Connoisseurs Of Custom-Build Design

published in: Design, Fashion, Interviews By Yasmine Hottary, 16 February 2012

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Maria Ziegelböck, photo © Bernhard Willhelm

DIPLOMATES is a single-source design and production studio specializing in the conceptualization and production of tailor-made projects. Formed by a group of versatile and creative individuals, DIPLOMATES offers 'newness' and progression in production design, through the delivery of concepts that always carry the pulse of the brand.

In an era when uniqueness and non-conformity to the ordinary are the traits that set a brand apart, tailor-made creation has today become sought-after 'added-value'. Yet, creating a project that is fitted to the brand's identity is an artful task that requires the talent of assimilating the label's image and delivering a result that is in fact, custom-built.

DIPLOMATES is a design and production studio based in Paris, France specializing in production development and design of spatial narratives in various formats that are always aesthetically distinctive. Through their rich client portfolio, including projects for coveted labels including Adam Kimmel, Damir Doma, Bernard Willhelm, Pierre Hardy and Van Cleef and Arpels among others, the team has come to be known for its specialization in  unique environments derived from a creative process of mixing ideas, materials, sounds and any possible spatial means. The result becomes a fusion of creativeness manifesting itself into design production.

Maria Ziegelböck, photo © Bernhard Willhelm

So tell us a bit about DIPLOMATES. Why did you choose to call yourselves by that name?
For us, a Diplomate always manages to have a clear idea of what's going on, the ''trouble'' that is involved, and how to find a progressive solution. It’s all about having a time and site-specific attitude, when trying to push the envelope without compromising quality or the commissioning party’s visibility or trust.

What exactly do you do?
DIPLOMATES conceives and produces territories, objects and events.  As a Design and Production studio, this somewhat generic term allows us the freedom we need without feeling stuck in certain fields. When we produce projects in our own studio, we try to deliver tailor-made and rare results for commissions where the given input can be fully appreciated. On the other hand, we are also consulted upon to provide creative and art direction, from general concepts to musical direction. This is where we gather a crew of talented people able to realize and optimize our thoughts in order to go as far as possible on any given project. This keeps us in a learning and collaborative process with creatives and technicians such as Architects, Artists, Musicians, Light designers, Carpenters, Constructors, +++.

Diplomates, photo © Damir Doma

Mike Yee, photo © Damir Doma

What is the DIPLOMATES crew’s background?
The core team comes from various fields: One of us is self taught, another is an artist, an art book dealer... A common vision on how projects can be thought and produced is what links us.

You have a rich portfolio of important clients who have different styles and as a result, different expectations. How do you manage to adjust to the personality of any given brand and produce projects that evoke the brand’s identity?
On the contrary, we believe our clients expect us not to think and operate according to much in their identity. In fact, the idea is to reinvent ourselves and the client's expectations on each project.

What was your first major gig?
Our first major gig was the Adam Kimmel presentation at the Thaddeus Ropac Gallery, January 2009, in Paris. This project inaugurated our development in this field through a ''Production designer'' stance. We've been producing territories for Adam Kimmel from very early on in his career. The whole story began from that collaboration, specifically with Neville Wakefield, who curates Adam’s shows and trusted us to produce what they had envisioned.

left: Diplomates, photo © Steffie Christiaens
right : Shoji Fujii, photo © Steffie Christiaens

Maria Ziegelböck, photo © Bernhard Willhelm

What are your sources of inspiration for your scenography?
... Our inspirations come from many different places... It could be a material we noticed, a novel we have read, the commissioner him/herself, an artist we have noticed, a specific old-technique or finish... All that combined with a well kept idea waiting for the right occasion or pretext to be developed. If we get the chance to preview our client's work and research we will then work around the impressions and emotions felt.

What makes a project successful for DIPLOMATES?
A project is a success when the result breathes honesty, when the whole process and communication happens organically and the synergies between the parties involved. It's always hard to make everybody feel satisfied and involved at the same time.

Diplomates, photo © Damir Doma

WeRunTheTown, photo © Steffie Christiaens

Diplomates, photo © Damir Doma

I know that you are quite strict and exclusive in terms of the DIPLOMATES’ publicity and the profile that you pursue in the market. Why do you safeguard your work to the extent that you do? 
In all honesty, we fear today's cannibalism. We would very much like to keep on working for the next 150 years!

And your future projects?
Following Damir Doma’s commission to design his shop-window at the Dover Street Market, DIPLOMATES is pushing forward with its intentions to start the design process as a rethought. The 2,400 meters of burned sticks used for both women and men SS12 shows had been dismantled, re-cut and re-assembled in order to produce this massive sculpture where Damir Doma's spirit can find its territory. Within a site specific approach, DIPLOMATES produced this hybrid installation, between a mineral and architectural gesture, disseminating the work a bit further than the window...

We are also art-directing and designing Damir Doma and Julien David’s up-coming women’s shows and are looking forward to activating our resources within other kinds of territories. We shall see...

left: Shoji Fujii, photo © Julien David
right: photo © Bouchra Jarrar

Diplomates, photo © Dusan

Diplomates, photo © Damir Doma

Diplomates, photo © Gabrielle Greiss

photo © Adam Kimmel

Diplomates, photo © M.U.S

Diplomates, photo © Adam Kimmel

Charles Duprat, photo © Adam Kimmel

Diplomates, photo © Adam Kimmel



special Thanks to Jonas

  • friend
    martin | 2012-03-13 10:26:41

    Impressive concept, inspiring.

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