Hey Arthur, first of all, how are you?
I’m great! The weather is lovely in London, for once, so it really helps ha.
For those that do not know who is Arthur Foliard?
Arthur is just a Designer from France, based in London. That’s probably it, to be honest ha.
Give us 5 fun facts about yourself!
Ooof I’m not that interesting, but I’ve got one funny story.
I’m 22, and part of my third year at uni comes the opportunity to do a six-month internship. It should be in Paris but they allow worldwide options too. I’ll spare you the details, but I somehow manage to get an internship in San Francisco, a random city choice too, The issue is, I don’t speak English, not one bit. The next morning I arrived, I need a phone for the next six months. So I painfully try to ask the reception for some help. I know now the person meant ‘AT&T’ which seems obvious, but at that time I was so out of my depth I leave the hotel remembering a sound ‘ATsomething’. I leave the hotel and ‘walk straight’ she said. As you would expect, things obviously get more complicated. At some point I see something ‘A…A..ATM’ that’s it. I found it. But I get quickly suspicious by the shop, it doesn’t look like anything I know, but definitely closer to ‘a place where to withdraw money’ and I’m literally staring at that thing thinking ‘you can’t buy a phone here..’ I look around, wonder if anyone seems nice enough to help, but while doing that, I see a T-Mobile shop (I knew the brand) and thought to myself ‘well that’ll do’. Went there, got the wrong plan (obviously) but I made it.
Have you always wanted to be a designer?
It started when I was around 16. Looking back, I had no idea what design or being a designer meant, in all honesty. I just vividly remember making tons of ‘graphics’ on our family PC – super random stuff for friends, family, and myself. But it was almost like a weird hobby, I had no idea it could become a thing, for real. After few years, people started to push me ‘have you looked into art school?’ they said. I went to visit one, to see what it was about, and it took me a minute to figure out I found my path.
You’ve worked at some major design studios, what was it like to work there?
Truly insightful. You learn loads from these different experiences because each studio gives you a different view on things. The creative process, how to handle presentations, the day to day relationship with clients, and so on. You’ll learn tons on how to run a business effectively, mistakes to avoid, and successes to recreate. We all go through bumpy roads, but the idea is to turn everything into an experience, however good/bad it is, that’s the lesson I’ve learned throughout the years.
Here’s the real question... London or San Francisco? And why?
Equally great! Hard to pick a favourite. London has an edge to it, a bit like NYC. Design feels rooted in the culture and the environment of London, it’s everywhere. But San Francisco has an insane amount of resources. Incredible talents, amazing startups, the opportunities are endless there.
It’s hard to pick because they both represent a different moment of my life as well, and I needed both in my journey.
Why did you make the switches?
I was at Landor (SF), doing a six-month internship, and halfway through that journey, I remember someone telling me about Pentagram London. ‘You should go it’s amazing’ she said. I was 22, young, ambitious and I thought ‘why not?!’ Barely knew anything about Branding and Design, but I believed deep down that working in different places and countries would be invaluable experiences. I could see how San Francisco was already changing me for the better, and the idea of discovering a new culture amazed me. Felt like the perfect time to do it. So I applied, got the job (after calling them twice a day for weeks), went back to Paris to finish my degree, and left a week later to London. Never left.
So you’re now a design director at Koto, is this something you’ve always wanted to do?
True story, it only took two hours on my first day at Koto to know I wanted to stick around. And I had the chance to join at the right time too, the more Koto grew the more I grew with it, so in a way I learned with Koto and Koto learned with me.
What is the most rewarding part of design from your experience?
When it’s all done and you see it live. You can have the best ideas, the best design, the only thing that matters is the result. It is the true impact it has on the business you’re working with.
Now if you’ve got an amazing idea, an amazing execution, and it doesn’t happen the way you wanted, learn from it. Understanding the why is the perfect solution to make it happen next time. And if it still doesn’t? Be resilient, it’ll happen.
What’s it like to work at Koto?
Truly great, we have amazing clients, a great relationship with each other, and incredible ambition. Think Koto really understands that Design isn’t for one type of person and creative. We need everyone. And people that tell you what kind of designer/creative/person you should be to fit in are wrong. I hate the term ‘cultural fit’ because the best studios ‘culture’ are the ones that accept you for what you are. At Koto, we embrace that idea. We’ve got people from all around the world, with very diverse background, talents, and interests. And our job is to build a place where everyone is accepted for their personality.
And that’s what makes everything so great, it’s our relationship with each other, to know we’re all so different but that at the end of the day we’re trying to change things, together.
On your site, you mention great design, but in your opinion, what do you believe is great design?
Great design serves a purpose. If you make beautiful stuff for the sake of beauty only, you’re an artist. That’s why I love branding because every decision you make is based on a strong foundation, something tangible, the strategy – your guide throughout the creative process and how you can make ‘great design’ that will last for decades.
For my final question, what's next for Arthur Foliard?