It all started a year ago. First as an idea, then over the course of a few months, it began to materialise before our eyes. It stemmed from a desire to...
Marine, Camille, can you tell us who you are?
We’re two eighties girls who both grew up in families of four children, fed a steady diet of kids’ TV and American sitcoms. Two complementary personalities who switch roles every day of the week. Two creative directors, photographers and set designers. In short (and in all modesty): a winning pair.
What does M/B. mean?
M/B. means whatever you want it to. Merci Beaucoup. Muy Bien or My Bad. Megabyte, Mel Blanc or Miami Beach, but above all, we are Camille, Marine, Junior, and Alexine.
What does your business do in terms of branding?
Even though most companies tend to specialise, M/B. mixes up different codes and media to express a personality, reflecting what makes a brand unique and the complexities of the times we live in. By working alongside artists and craftspeople, we create powerful images, from creating a brand identity through to photo/video protection, from brand image consultancy through to set direction. Over the last six years, the recipe has always been the same: humour, creativity, and intelligence. Despite what you might think, our multidisciplinary approach helps brands to trust us and enables us to find creative solutions in record time.
Even though most companies tend to specialise, M/B. mixes up different codes and media to express a personality, reflecting what makes a brand unique and the complexities of the times we live in.
What was your career path before starting a business together?
We met in lectures at the ESAC Penninghen design school. After graduation, we went our separate ways for a decade before coming together to found M/B.
For my part, I needed a lot of space and independence after spending five years studying at Penninghen. I stared out as a graphic designer at Base Design in New York, then came back to Paris to work in art direction for several fashion magazines. Finally, I crossed back over the Channel and started working at the V&A in London. The incredible Victoria & Albert Museum was where I came up with designs for exhibit staging, books, and posters and where I learned how to work with artists and curators and, after five years, I’d learned to love the English mentality and started to think like that, too. It was time to come home
Unlike Marine, I stayed firmly fixed in Paris to work as an art director for Young & Rubicam for ten years. Like her, my career was defined by travel – every two months I’d take off with a new photographic team for Cape Town, Miami or Rio de Janeiro to shoot catalogues. If you’re daring and curious enough in your approach, there is only a very small gap between the role of an art director and that of a photographer.We’d said we’d catch up in ten years… Marine had had enough of English food and the London Underground, and I was sick of project planning meetings and board plans at all hours of the day. M/B. was born in May 2011.
What material do you value most in your work?
I prefer materials that are coarse and raw. Combining heavy and light weights, the rough and the smooth, to bring out the contrast. In 2018, we want to make our photographic language more specific and more emphatic by distinguishing the agency from the photographic duo, Camille + Marine.
How would you define your style of image?
Creating images as a pair results in contrasts, by definition. While one has an eye on the big picture, the other takes care of the details. Certainly, that is what we should be aiming to achieve in our roles as art directors – combining multiple styles, building bridges between images, using moodboards to think things through. On the day of the shoot or the installation, instinct takes over and the subject carries us through.
Who or what inspires you, what are your dreams about?
Travel. Departing on a journey inspires us, makes us dream, and gives us meaning. Each year, we head off on a trip just to talk things through. From these road trips, we create books that act as a photographic record. The first opus took us to New York, where we met the incredible Ebony Ugo. Thanks to our friends from Lyoum and La Benjamine, we were able to land in Tunis for our second trip. This Tunisian trip took the form of an installation for the Galerie des Galeries. Our latest travelogue has just been printed. This year, our destination was Japan, to meet up with Armelle Kergall, a talented photographer and a truly remarkable friend.
Who would you like to work for today?
We often ask ourselves what our “Dream Project” would look like. Here’s the list for 2018: repeated trips for Voyageurs du Monde, photographing una famiglia for Dolce & Gabbana, designing more sustainable everyday objects for The Socialite Family, working on a collaboration with our friend, Alice Bucaille, uncovering the next breakthrough designer in the children’s fashion world in Portugal, and finally an appearance in M, the magazine for “Le Monde” newspaper.
What ideas did you take away from the campaign for The Socialite Family? Which piece of furniture inspired you?
As with every subject, there were lots of questions floating around: how could we ensure that The Socialite Family became a design brand and not just a piece of lifestyle media? How could we convey the visual spirit of the family and the apartment while remaining true to the design language that furniture brands use to create luxury? Our answer was to create a photo studio in the family apartment. We have kept the traces of life and warmth, but have created a backdrop to highlight and bring out the best of The Socialite Family‘s design pieces. The image of the chair that is shown on the walls of Paris sums up our idea quite nicely.
Could you recommend us a restaurant in Paris or somewhere else?
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily