Zim & Zou, the art of passion with paper

Zim & Zou, the art of passion with paper

Anabel Herrera Published on 9/26/2022

Zim & Zou, the art of passion with paper

A wizard’s house suspended in the clouds, accessed by a ladder. Inside, an intriguing dance of books, treasures and trinkets. A magical world in which paper sculptures come to life through elaborate figures, impossible folds and colourful edges. This is ‘Up the Clouds’, the artistic window display of the Hermès store in the Dubai Mall of Emirates, one of the latest pieces by the French studio Zim & Zou

Zim & Zou are Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann, two French artists based in the Dordogne region in the south-west of the country. She was born in the Vosges in 1987 into a family who worked in a paper mill, perhaps leading to her fascination with this material, which she began crafting with for fun. He was born in Paris in 1986, and is an artist with a passion for passion for illustration, photography, and digital and interactive design.

Images taken from the link: https://www.behance.net/gallery/140737943/Up-the-Clouds/modules/795245331

The two met at art school where they studied graphic design for three years, then decided to join forces to experiment in various creative fields, such as graphic design, illustration and paper sculptures. In addition to Hermès, they have worked for companies such as IBM and Microsoft, and illustrated covers for TIME and The Washington Post. Their work has been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Metz, the Chicago Design Museum, the V&A in London and the Daelim Museum in Seoul, among others. And they have received several awards in recognition of their work, such as the ADC Young Guns Creativity Award in New York and the Illustrative Award in Berlin.

Paper Artisans

While they also experiment with elements such as wood, leather, filters and threads in their creations, Zim & Zou’s favourite material is paper, due to the infinite possibilities it offers in terms of versatility, richness of textures and chromatic variety. It is a material that both artists manipulate with ingenuity and skill to create sculptures of incredible precision and elegance.

As paper artisans, they handcraft every element that makes up their installations, from the initial drawing to the cutting, folding and final assembly: meticulous and detailed work that gives Zim & Zou’s work its unique and personal touch. While their ability to create extraordinary pieces is impressive from a technical perspective, the creative duo’s greatest skill is embodying each of their creations with soul. Flat sheets of paper that acquire volume to create three-dimensional figures and scenes, with a poetic, somewhat nostalgic aura, yet at the same time playful.

Images taken from the link: https://www.behance.net/gallery/124158755/A-Livre-Ouvert/modules/705569743
Images taken from the link: https://www.behance.net/gallery/124158755/A-Livre-Ouvert/modules/705569743

One example is the ‘Back to Basics’ collection, a personal project in which Zim & Zou present a collection of retro objects, life-size and made entirely from paper. Icons from the 80s and 90s, such as a walkman, cassette tapes, a Polaroid camera and a floppy disk, are brought to life in this unique project that took a year to bring to fruition.

Images taken from the link:: https://www.behance.net/gallery/1712617/Back-to-Basics/modules/12190083

Nostalgia is also the source of inspiration for their project ‘Exodus’, an ode to travel in which a colony of pink, blue and purple airships cross time and space towards an unknown destination, perhaps dreaming of a better place.

The power of nature

In other projects, Zim & Zou recreate magical worlds of vivid colours that assert the power and beauty of nature. In ‘Forest Folks’, an installation standing almost two and a half metres tall, created for the Hermès shop in Dubai, the artists open a window into a fantastical village of lush, leafy landscapes, where giant mushrooms and majestic flowers grow and curious characters live in green and purple mushroom houses.

And in their installations created for the ‘Sharing Worlds’ project by the Swedish Nobel Museum and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation in the United Arab Emirates, the artists pay homage to Nobel-prize winning authors Sigrid Undset and Gabriel García Márquez, recreating the locations of their novels ‘Kristin Lavransdatter’ and ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’. The result is colourful compositions that transport the viewer to the snowy mountains of Norway and the fictional village of Macondo.

Images taken from the link: https://www.behance.net/gallery/76879461/Sharing-Worlds/modules/446529267

For the Hermès store in Shanghai, China, they created the’Museum of Supernatural History’, an installation inspired by a natural history museum crossed with a cabinet of curiosities, which took the duo nearly three months of work. The animal figures, painstakingly hand-crafted using leather cut-outs from the Hermès workshops in Paris, shared the showcase with the French brand’s items in a perfect symbiosis of craftsmanship and luxury.

Images taken from the link: https://www.behance.net/gallery/47496809/Forest-Folks/modules/283355449

In Barcelona, a fox wistfully looks around a living room made entirely of paper in the window display of the Hermès store on Paseo de Gracia. The installation ‘The Fox’s Den’ tells the story of a fox who sneaks into the shop window with all of his personal belongings, all of which show his life and personality.

Heroes of our own odyssey

Zim & Zou also bring their creativity to social causes, such as their project ‘Douceur’, in which they condemn the plight of child soldiers through a collection of weapons made from felt.

Above all, Zim & Zou’s art seeks to awaken emotions and inspire life’s journey with a positive message. This can be seem, for example, in one of their most recent projects ‘Journey of a Lifetime’, an installation created for the Hermès store in the Isetan Shinjuku mall in Tokyo. A spaceship cockpit, complex and mysterious, serves as a metaphor for life and the difficult choices we must often make. In the centre is an astronaut exploring the universe, as a symbol of each human being on their own journey around the world. A true work of art in which Zim & Zou illustrate the concept of how we ourselves are the heroes of our own odyssey.

Images taken from the link: https://www.behance.net/gallery/132371461/Journey-of-a-Lifetime/modules/749441477