Always full of ideas, Françoise Parraud is the founder of KiBiKiBi ("lively, energetic" in Japanese), a new kind of digital publishing house. She explains to us her projects, her previous experiences and shares with us her insatiable curiosity ...
I started out working with Letraset
An interactive expo catalog, a press packet on a smartphone, a tourism project with Beacon sensors… Ever since we’ve known you, you haven’t stopped pushing! Where do you get all the energy and the ideas?
Ha! Maybe I’m just a tad bit hyperactive 😉 And I don’t like to feel that technology has gone flying past me (at least not too quickly). I started out working with Letraset (quick, to Wikipedia!), and above all I’m a graphic designer, I love print and beautiful books but I also think that the digital world has a lot to offer, that the two are going to enrich each other rather than seeing the extinction of print. I actually just read that the people who read the most ebooks are also those who read the most printed books…
Where did your interest in apps and interactive design come from? Could you tell us a bit about how your career developed?
For 20 years, I was a freelance artistic director, first in the luxury and cosmetic industries, then in contemporary art and fine books, and then for a decade or so in performance art.
I was in charge of visual communications for theaters (mainly the MC93 in Bobigny) and I was always frustrated by the fact that we couldn’t integrate our publicity docs with the sounds and images of the incredible plays that I was seeing on stage. You could do it on the theater’s website, but then you had to be online…and smartphones didn’t have nearly the importance that they have today.
I heard about PandaSuite, and I jumped right in
And then, the miracle! The Maison des Artists opened up training for designers 4 years ago and I jumped into internships in digital publishing at the École de l’image at Gobelins (DPS, Aquafadas, eBook, etc.). I had already played a little bit with HTML/CSS through a MOOC that helped me to at least understand the concepts…It was through a course at Gobelins with Cyril Ernou that I heard about PandaSuite, and I jumped right in.
All of your apps are available outside of the stores, through a hub. Why did you choose to provide them this way? What are your clients looking for?
Why? It’s thanks to Apple! I had heard about issues with being in the App Store, apps being unjustly rejected, an omnipresent “morality” (which is hard to accept in the contemporary creative world), and the fact that I’m a designer, not a developer…it was a big issue at the beginning, even just with the idea of creating apps.
But now it’s mostly because up until today my “target” has been relatively narrow. For example, a printed press packet (for a show, for a film…) will be about 100-200 copies for the type of project that I work on.
It’s a very restricted group (journalists, patrons, critics, friends) and a link in a hub works perfectly. I see “my” hub (KiBiKiBi, Apple and Google available) like a little publishing house or bookstore, where you go to find carefully chosen items that aren’t exactly what you’d find elsewhere (at least that’s how I see it developing).
The press pocket for the "Sac La Mort" movie
Today, as we’ve talked about before in our blog, it’s hard to talk about apps and really find the right terms. How do you “sell” your projects to your prospects?
Really, the first question is “Wait, what’s an app?” and the second is “Why is that better than something in print or just a website?” In the cultural realm, if you aren’t younger than 40, you don’t use them, or you only use the really common apps (GoogleMaps, SNCF, stuff like that).
I’ve also seen that relatively few people have tablets, they’re still working mostly with PCs. So I spend a lot of time explaining and demonstrating. I also push the idea of instantaneous updates (no need to print things again, so less costly).
App created for "No Chronology" exhibition, Bernard Piffaretti (Berlin, April 2016)
You don’t need to be a developer to get started
What are you working on currently?
I’m finishing a digital tablet version of a book of poems and photographs that I edited a few years ago. Humberto Ak’abal is a Guatemalan poet who writes magnificent haïkus in the Mayan language (K’iche’) and translates them into Spanish as well.
So the multilingual abilities of Panda are great for me, I can be trilingual (K’iche’ - Spanish - French) really easily and with the audio module I can integrate readings in the original language as well as photographs on the book’s origins. That means the two versions (paper and digital) are completely complementary.
What is the craziest project that you’d love to work on?
To link databases of images, texts, films, audio, and have interactive propositions between them so that the user can create their own infinite story. Kind of a digital Dadaism. I like the idea of “losing oneself” in the app (which can’t really be the case with print).
What advice do you have for someone who’s starting to develop an app with PandaSuite?
“Don’t be afraid!” 😉
You don’t need to be a developer to get started. The interface works well for designers. But don’t avoid the tutorials and follow them according to the level of difficulty. And know that the Panda team is super-reactive in helping you.
Beyond that, always try to reflect on what an app for any given project could be, try to see the advantages and disadvantages in relation to print, and don’t hesitate to propose an app to the client if it seems like digital is the way to go…
Thank you, Françoise, and thanks again for the Panda pens that you brought back from Japan 🙂