“Elsa Muse”, but above all “Elsa Sure”! It’s impossible not to fall in line with Elsa Snackers, better known under the pseudonym Elsa Muse (a name that is half a play on words, half fanciful). A name that has made her a reference in terms of influence and most of all of creativity, on Instagram. Head of Studio Mumuse, located in the Canal Saint-Martin area, our thirty-something appears, radiant in this spotless workplace. A blank canvas, the perfect background for an identity rich in primary colours and stop-motion tricks. For Elsa’s universe is infinite. It teems with amazing stories and creatures, such as a mad spaceship, a Berber encampment or a photo-story featuring thrilling adventures on the Island of Stromboli (…). A visual treat, but also a real one when we talk to this jack-of-all-trades who takes a malicious pleasure in leaving her comfort zone, and with whom we could easily open our hearts for hours. A breath of fresh air with a Jean Seberg haircut, Elsa happily tells us how, through an all-consuming need for social ascension, she has got to know herself better. Realising in the end that: “Freedom is more important to me than ambition and the financial success that I dreamed of when I was younger“.
Elsa, who are you?
I have a design studio in Paris called Studio Mumuse. I mainly make stop-motion animation videos but also anything else that comes to mind and amuses me. They might be about sets, special occasions, fashion or decoration.
Your career has been far from conventional. How did you move from marketing on a large scale to an independent design studio?
I’ve been imaginative and enjoyed tinkering ever since I was a little girl. After my baccalaureate, I considered going into some sort of creative education, but I changed my mind and went to business school. I grew up in northern Picardy, and the artistic professions seemed abstract and inaccessible to me. And at the time I felt the need to move up the social ladder. I ended up working in marketing development in the cosmetics sector. I was interested in the challenge of imagining and launching new products on the market, but I was very unhappy working in a company. I was lucky enough to have the idea of creating a blog on DIY at the right time, and to meet Paulette Magazine and agencies like Ykone, which gave me visibility with communities and brands. All that created a craze for my blog and content. That’s what pushed me to train and work hard. When I started making money by doing “influence” and content creation, I gave up my full-time job. After a year of self-employment, I created Studio Mumuse. I work here together with Laurie, who has been freelancing for me on various assignments for the past two years.
Since you began, which projects have stimulated you the most, amused you… inspired you too?
There are so many different things! The ones that stimulate me most are the really challenging projects – the ones that take me outside my comfort zone. I find it very exciting when I have the opportunity to work on objects or collections for brands with which I share common values. For example, there was a limited edition bottle for Suze, panties with Petit Bateau and a shoe collection with Sarenza. Each time I had carte blanche for the design process as well as the communication and even for organising the launch parties (I love it, especially when they’re fancy dress!). I’m toying with the idea of holding them every month and playing with Djette, my new craze. What’s made me proud recently is producing a 40-episode animated series for children called “1m10: around the world at children’s eye level” () that can still be seen on Canal + Family, as well as a digital campaign film for Nina Ricci in stop-motion.
What have you learned – about yourself, from others, from the world of entrepreneurship – in the past few years?
I learned that freedom is more important to me than the ambition and financial success I dreamed of when I was younger. I’ve realised that, to feel fulfilled, I need to make my own decisions about what I want to do or not do, so that I’m not accountable to anyone (and vice versa). Others have taught me all sorts of things. Right from the beginning, I’ve surrounded myself with different talents depending on my projects. I watch, we share, and I feed on all this knowledge and enthusiasm.
The studio has been painted white for the light. It's also like a blank page that I can customise according to my ideas. One day the space is transformed into a Moroccan Berber tent, the next, it's a tropical jungle.
Do you have a philosophy of life, a mantra that motivates you on a daily basis?
“Hakuna Matata!” (laughs) Generally speaking, I try never to lose the childlike side of myself. I try to extract maximum pleasure from life, listening to what I feel, and following my intuition and imagination.
Why do you use the name “Elsa Muse”?
It’s a pun on my first name that sums up my world very well: on the one hand, “elle s’amuse”, meaning “she’s having fun”, and on the other hand “Elsa muses” in the sense of “Elsa dreams”… and inspires. This is also expressed by the primary colours I chose for my graphic identity. They may seem childish, but they are also the foundations of design.
What’s the story behind this hybrid space?
I moved in here in April 2017. I needed a large space because, at that time, there were about ten of us at Studio Mumuse. At that time, I had tried to grow the venture through partnering and recruiting, but then I turned everything around completely after nearly two years, because that type of organisation just didn’t suit me. However, I wanted to keep this place because it’s extremely well located in the Folie-Méricourt district. So I started work in early 2019 (construction of glass partitions, creation of storage spaces, installation of a toilet, space to accommodate shoots, customers and events). The decoration has become more personal since then. I treat the few square metres I use for myself like a real second home.
What do the objects, the books that inhabit it say about me?
The books say a lot about my inspirations, with modern artists who conjure up our childhood emotions like Alexander Calder, Joan Miró and Henri Matisse, but also about characters with a more provocative, even erotic aesthetic, like the photographer Helmut Newton. My world is very dreamlike but also naughty, it’s a joyous mix. These books are stored among a whole bunch of studio objects such as tins of paint, sheets of paper and cameras, but also drawings, prototypes and models, such as the one in the “cockpit”, a space at the Molitor Hotel that we decorated like a spaceship in June. And then there are inevitably quite a few fashion accessories that I use for display on my Instagram account.
When we met you, you told us about a vintage Paco Rabanne curtain that had been unearthed by an antique dealer in the south of France. Are there any other pieces you would like to have here?
I’m a fan of fashion and futuristic design from the Space Age period, hence this table with round metal legs found in the Marseille flea markets. I like modular furniture, which is why I’m looking for new trolleys from Joe Colombo, but this time in yellow and red. I find them very useful for the studio. Instead of all my plastic storage, I dream of having colourful USM furniture. I also chose Togo sofas for the studio, but if I had more budget, my dream would be to have several vintage sofa-beds from the same designer, like the Terrazza by Ubald Klug, the Mura by Mario Bellini or the model I saw in the article on Constance Gennari. I like to spend my life wallowing: I often work in bed! (laughs)
What is the Elsa Muse style?
All in all, it’s a dreamlike and mischievous atmosphere. It’s primarily influenced by the sixties in both fashion and decoration, with lots of vinyl (Courrèges jackets and Carel patent leather Mary Janes are my uniform) and pieces by Paco Rabanne. But that doesn’t stop me from collecting Jacquemus femme fatale dresses or very strong pieces like Greenhouse Marine suits, with which I enjoy wearing almost like a disguise.
What does The Socialite Family mean to you?
It’s a source of inspiration and discovery. I enjoy reading the articles and looking at the photos of beautiful interiors: it sets me dreaming. I discover new designers, professions and personalities. It gives me a lot of ideas! I’m incredibly proud that you’ve come here. I’ve been reading you ever since The Socialite Family was created! I admire the evolution of the media and the launch of the brand.
Where will we find you in the coming months?
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily