Antoine Aillot, Marvin De Deus Ganhitas and Guillaume Hugon form the creative team behind the young Parisian design studio Golgotha. Challenging the conventional boundaries between fashion, graphic design and art, their work unearths inspiration from show rooms and branded world, yet applying a highly sophisticated artistic approach. The variety of their work reflects the trio’s miscellaneous interests and experiences: kids of the 90’s strongly shaped by Internet era, their hybrid practice involves video production, textile design and artistic direction, just to name a few examples. I met the trio behind Golgotha, who revealed me something about their future projects and philosophy, which is all about curiosity and open-mindedness.
Antoine, Marvin and Guillaume, you were all studying at the Parisian design and art school ENSAD, where you first met each other. What created the impulse to start working together as a trio? Did you share the same aesthetic insight since from the beginning?
Guillaume: We started working together on several projects already during our studies, not as a definite trio though: sometimes Marvin and me were working together, or Antoine and Marvin as a duo… In 2013, during the last year of our studies, we all went to Los Angeles to do an internship, where we spent three months. Obviously we became closer that way, realizing that we shared the same professional objectives and personal interests.
Marvin: We already had the intuition that we could form a good creative team. After Los Angeles we took the decision to do the final work for our diploma together: this was kind of a test for us, to see if our collaboration could work out in practice. But we already had the habit and the energy of working together.
Antoine: Our identity started definitely taking shape during the last year of our studies. Back then we also did some VJing together at some electronic festivals in Lyon and Berlin for example.
What kind of experience was this?
Guillaume: VJing formed definitely a good practice, allowing us to discover how to manipulate simultaneously sound and moving image.
Marvin: True, it was a good way to approach graphic design with a new point of view, focusing essentially on video. I guess that after having done VJing, video became the main tool for us: it somehow consolidated both our way of working together and our aesthetic view. Video supports a certain narrative style, which is really important for us. It’s not a coincidence either that we all found ourselves in Los Angeles; we share the fascination for same kind of visual stimuli. Growing up in the 1990’s, watching the same blockbuster films, playing the same video games – the aesthetic impact of all this can be traced in our work. Gradually, we have built up our own creative approach that we wish to put forward in our work.
Could you tell a little bit more about the project that you did for your diploma?
Marvin: We wanted to work from a speculative point of view; the idea of a speculative bubble or generally the context of stock market fascinated us. However, we didn’t have any first-hand knowledge about this world! We weren’t only interested in the aesthetic potential of it, but we also wanted to understand how it works. That’s how we ended up studying its mechanisms, which took the whole year. After having done a lot of brainstorming, we finally got the idea that the next speculative bubble would be about sperm banks, and we created a narrative around that theme. The objective was to make it really immersive, both regarding the content and the visual side of it. This was a really important experience because it gave us a lot of tools to exploit and develop further, for example with 3D techniques that are an essential part of our work these days.
Where does the name Golgotha come from?
Guillaume: Golgotha was initially our VJ name, we liked the sound of its echo: dark, even reminiscent of black metal.
Marvin: We found the obscure sound of it fascinating. At the same time, the name summons up pretty well our way of working, meaning that there wasn’t, or still isn’t for that matter, a definite shape or model that could characterize our work in a comprehensive way.
Three people working closely together and sharing the same work, how does it come off in practice?
Guillaume: I would say that the boundaries regarding the distribution of work are quite fluid and non-defined.
Marvin: The roles have never been really determined. The three of us, we all have different kind of sensibilities, which is natural and something positive for sure, that’s the way we complete each other. Also, sometimes it occurs that if one of us doesn’t feel like working at a specific project, the two other may complete and finish it.
Antoine: And even if there was only one person working on the project, others still consult and observe how it is proceeding; which direction the project is taking. And of course we always start our projects by brainstorming together, and once it gets a little more technic, we might start sharing the work.
After launching your studio, you started working directly in fashion. Was this a conscious decision? What kind of aspects does it include for you?
Marvin: Our debut in the fashion scene wasn’t something that happened by coincidence. We decided to contact the Swiss designer Julian Zigerli and proposed a collaboration with him: we did the print design of his men’s collection fw 14-15. Currently we are preparing prints for a capsule collection by Julian Zigerli and the brand Zimmerli.
Working in fashion can be really diversified for us: we can design a whole collection, do videos or a lookbook… Perhaps this is our specialty as well: not being limited by a particular domain or a technique.
Thanks to this project with Zigerli, people started to characterize us as a studio concentrating on fashion, even though we work in a variety of domains. But I guess that people need labels, and when it came to our work, the label with the word fashion on it seemed the most natural for people. The unwillingness to define our practice in concrete terms, I think this is more problematic for other people than for us, we’re pretty comfortable with the ambiguity of our practice.
Nowadays your work is covering more and more different fields, such as music industry. How are you able to approach an unfamiliar domain, without having any prior experience in it?
Marvin: Regarding the technical challenges, the main motivator for us is curiosity. For example, at school we had no classes on video or 3D techniques, and exactly because of this lack of information we became intrigued and wanted to learn more. I guess that this approach could be characterized even as something naïve: we may approach different techniques and materials without the knowhow. This means that the possibility for making mistakes lies out there, but we’re getting better all the time. In the beginning it was pretty much about do-it and learn-it-yourself.
We’re gradually opening up and exploring other domains as well, we’re doing a lot of music videos and art direction at the moment. Recently we also began working with a production company, and here it’s the same thing: we started in that field without any previous film studies.
What’s next for you in the future?
Guillaume: Obviously our dream would involve a big team working with us, having people specializing in different domains – we’re definitely aiming at transversality in our practice. We’re feeling really positive about the future, even though we set up the studio only two years ago.
The boundaries between fashion, art, design and music in Paris seem very well established, whereas in other creative capitals it might be less the case. What is your experience about this, and how have people welcomed your project, which is definitely questioning these boundaries?
Marvin: In Paris, there are some predecessors who share the same kind of mentality as us, for example the graphic duo Antoine et Manuel. I also feel that there is a change is happening right now and the generational reserve is slowly disappearing. I want to believe that our work serves as an example for other young creatives. Even though we just graduated, we’re lucky enough to earn our living from our work, which is not necessarily the case in this field.
Antoine: There is definitely a change taking place: it feels like there is a demand for us, and this is the perfect timing to do this! I think that in London or in Berlin we couldn’t have done things the same way as we did here, but luckily for us, Paris was an uncharted territory regarding our practice.
Guillaume: And of course the fact how techniques and attitudes develop, is also something generational and comes in cycles. And it’s been amazing to notice all the support that we get from people. It’s very motivating!