Homegirl London pays homage to AK-LH. The in your face graphic design brand which just wants to ‘Graphic Design Your Life.’ Owned by Aksel Varichon (right in picture) and François Le Helloco Boulenger (left in picture), hence the name;‘AK’ is for Aksel and ‘LH’ for Le Helloco. Aksel looks after the graphic design and illustration while François is responsible for development and communication. Together they create everyday useful objects with colourful and bold digital printing; cushions, tea towels, kitchen linen and bags, plus some cool wing chairs. I caught up with the duo to find out more …
Q: Tell me about your design backgrounds.
A: Aksel Varichon graduated from the ESAG Penninghen (Graphic Art School) and majored in graphic design. Working on illustration, typography and photography, he has been creating cinema posters, art books, logos, CD and DVD jackets since 1999. He designs all the AK-LH creations.
François Le Helloco Boulenger graduated from the ESCE (International Business School). Multilingual and former Head of Sales of the French leader in cultural tour-operating, he manages the operational side of AK-LH.
Q: How did you meet?
A: We met when we were students, had many friends in common and attended the same parties.
Q: Why set up your business?
A: We had great success from our first piece – the ‘Flow’ Wingchair in 2008 which was the deciding factor in setting up a company to sell and market further products.
Q: Where are you based and why?
A: We are based in Paris because this is our home city which is also fortunately one of the world capitals for fashion, art and design … and the center of business and networking in France.
Q: Describe your design style.
A: Between graphic design, painting and urban art. It’s fresh and off-beat style shakes our senses and gives a new and colourful look to contemporary decorative arts.
Q: Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
A: Our creative inspiration comes from the surrounding global world – ideas and trends from our generation references, actually from so many things.
Q: Tell me about your collections.
A: Techno: technological instruments from the 80’s have highlighted the end of last century and set up the bases of the current world. AK-LH pays tribute to the prehistory of our favorite medias. Definitely ‘geek’ et fanatical, ‘Techno’ reconnects memorial circuits of our past technologies.
Comics: is a free interpretation of the superheroes magical world. Because they are never enough, AK-LH has created a brand new pantheon. As an implied reference to American comic strips, Superwings and Bunnyman, Cellgirl and Lord Strawberry invite you to share their extraordinary adventures.
Food: colorful and yummy, ‘Food’ delights your kitchens and re-explores pleasures of food and gastronomy. Chefs and housewives, food-addicts and trendy cooks will appreciate this urban and pop collection, good enough to eat.
AK LH Food
Freaks: inspired by childhood illustrations and cartoons, this fresh and colorful collection is an echo to the present street-artistic creation. This multitude of little dynamic and funny monsters, coloured on a black background, delights this acidulous creation.
Pastel: on light blue, pink or grey background, ‘Pastel’ cushions collection picks up ‘Freaks’, ‘Comics’, ‘Garden’ and ‘Food’ graphic designs. These new softly coloured scenes match these four universes in a pleasant harmony.
PIXanimals: the wild beauty of these animals with clear and sincere look comes from the dawn of time. As a contemporary mark, the pixel treatment smoothly integrates them into the culture 2.0.
‘PIXanimals’ explores the animal kingdom’s raw soul and only keeps the basic essentials, its genuineness.
Q: Which designer do you admire and why?
A: We admire many designers and especially graphic designers like e-boy (Germany) or Shepard Fairey (USA), but we are also inspired in many contemporary artists from Gérard Garouste and Jean-Michel Basquiat to Yue Min Jun.
Q: What’s the best thing about owning your own business?
A: The total freedom to do what we want.
Q: What one piece of advice would you pass on to someone wanting to set up their own business?
A: You need to know exactly what you want to do, to be informed about the market, to be passionate and to have more than 24 hours in a day.
Q: What’s coming up for the rest of 2013?
A: AK-LH will soon celebrate 5 years in business and to mark this occasion we will present different new creations and tea towels, bags and cushions collections.
If you want to buy the products go to www.ak-lh.com. There are a few outlets in the UK selling their products which you can find on the website. Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of AK-LH, special thanks to François Le Helloco Boulenger and Aksel Varichon.