Gilles & Cecilie is a multi-disciplinary creative team run by the couple Gilles Jourdan from France and Cecilie Maurud Barstad from Norway. They’re based in London, and make illustration, interiors, installation and wall painting. The two of them met at Central Saint Martins while studying graphic design and established their studio in 2006.

Idea and editing: Christina Skreiberg

– Please tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you started out…

– We met during a fire alarm in Central Saint Martins while doing Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design and fell in love.

– We started our studio officially in 2006. Before we started we collaborated on projects for Paul Smith, Nickelodeon and BT. So we have probably worked together for about 13 years. We did not aim to work together in the first place, it just happened naturally as we both got busy with commissions and we complement each other well.

– Since the time we met we shared the urge to travel, to seek out new places and to find inspiration in new destinations. One of our first journeys together was to Brazil, where we stayed for 8 weeks in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia. We stayed with friends in the Vila Madalena area before it was massively gentrified. Walking around the streets looking for places to paint we met artists on the way that we kept contact with since then. Zezao, Raphael, Boleta and Kboco. All of them still work within the field. We were inspired by how they started to make their living as artists and designers. During this trip we filled our sketchbooks with ideas and strategies on what we wanted to do on our return to London.

– Please briefly describe a typical day or a typical week.

– Wherever we are we always start our day with a good and long breakfast. We eat, we relax, we wake up, we make plans and share ideas.

– We have a studio in Shoreditch. We decided very early on in our practice to have a studio. Then we had at least one bill to pay and we had to get money in monthly to pay the studio, the phones and the Internet as well as some earnings to ourselves. It is great to have a space to work from, to meet clients and to do special events. Most days we do cycle together on our foldable Brompton Bicycles from Highbury, through the lush backstreets of Canonbury and down to Hoxton and Shoreditch. If it rains heavily, we’re lucky to be able to work from home.

– Do you have a divide between work and private life?

– This is our lifestyle. Creative conversations happen everywhere and anytime, either together or people we interact with. Many of our friends are running their own businesses, large and small, in many different industries and we all learn from each other during creative conversations.

– Have you set up any premises or “rules” to make it work?

– We do our best to schedule morning meetings to list what has to be sorted today, this week and this month and the coming year. We have our own studio space that we work from. We have a flat structure and share responsibilities on rotation to make sure our days always have challenge and that we always keep learning.

– How do you think it affects the work you produce?

– Teamwork is motivating.

– In what way do you complement each other?

– We have very different backgrounds, Gilles grew up in the suburbs of Paris and Cecilie in the Norwegian countryside. Our references are different when it comes to youth culture, literature, music, sports, upbringing, art and design. Gilles is analytical, realistic and have a lot of knowledge about everything. Cecilie has too many ideas (don’t worry, we save them all in our idea book), is the visionary and day-dreamer. Together this mix of personal attributes become our studio: always looking for new challenges and adventures.

– What are the challenges of being partners in both business and in love?

– The challenge is to not fall into a routine. We try to always be moving away from a routine. So that our work can develop. Experience is great and we want to be able to create work with fresh approach. And use different methods to solve the challenges we meet.

– And what is the BEST thing about working together?

– We can see each other! We have a lot of travel days. Usually between 160 to 180 days per year. We travel mostly within Europe, USA, Brazil and Asia.

– If we would not work together, it would be really little time to talk, discuss, play, create, interact and be together. We can travel, be inspired and share our creative journey.

– We think about life as a whole. It is wonderful to have a partner in life to make plans together with and make dreams come true. Travelling and learning about the world in general is something we have in common. We are working hard to maintain working in many different countries and places because we find inspiration and challenge in this way of working.

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