Trapeze Design agency

Paris, France

By acquiring new premises for her design agency, Vanessa Angeloglou, manager of Trapeze, was able to give free rein to her taste for design. We met her in the heart of Paris, to talk about a project she calls "Concrete Creativity" and the new ways of working she is seeking to establish within her agency.

To begin, can you introduce yourself?

My name is Vanessa Angeloglou, I am 39 years old, the mother of a little boy named Pablo, and I run Trapeze, an independent design agency.

When did you start this Trapeze adventure?

I joined the historic founder of Trapeze 10 years ago. Gradually, he passed the torch to me and I have been alone since 2015.

And before Trapeze what did you do?

I studied marketing and commerce, then I took my first steps in a large Parisian design agency, as project manager and then customer manager. Quite quickly, I wanted to try a more entrepreneurial adventure and the opportunity with Trapeze came at the right time.

What is Trapeze?

Trapeze is a design agency, and more specifically a creative agency, specialising in branding, packaging and shopper thinking. This means that we create and develop brand experiences that will come to life in the real world. More concretely, our job consists in creating visual identities, packaging ranges and also what are called brand activations. We support brands with the creation of graphics, but if necessary we can also help them with their branded content: hooks, positioning, or stories to tell. Today we talk a lot about brand experience, but it starts earlier and earlier and ends later. Our mission is therefore to target all these points of contact with the consumer.

What types of brands do you work with?

Trapeze is a small company but we work with big brands!

We specialise in what is called the mass-market, so everything that is consumer products, food and non-food. Basically, this is all you will find in a large and medium-sized area. For example our customers today are the Danone group, both in terms of water and fresh produce, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, the world's leading coffee group, and Essity, a large group in the hygiene sector.

How many people are employed at Trapeze?

Trapeze is a human-sized, local agency. We are 10 Trapeze artists - it's called that between us! The team includes creatives, project managers and an office manager. As for me, I lead the project and creative team; I play the role of creative director and consultant.

How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

Our approach has always been based around "Concrete Creativity". This means that it is important for us to be close to the reality on the ground. We have always thought of our projects in a very operational, very pragmatic way. It’s great to be beautiful, but you also need to be useful and there must be meaning in creation. The bottom line is that our creations must come to life in the real world. I know that there are many agencies which claim to do only the beautiful and who do not want to be influenced by the wishes of the customers, by the more daily constraints. But at Trapeze we make sure to have fun by proposing new creative ideas, but we never lose sight of customer requirements and the reality on the ground. Our proposals always have to combine utility and efficiency with design. It’s very important.

Tell us about these offices…

For me it's a dream come true because this street is one of the most charming in the neighbourhood. It is a very small street and was quite unexpected to find enough to settle there. I tried to buy for several years, the market was tense, I could not find anything and one fine day this opportunity presented itself, it was crazy! The project came to fruition a year and a half ago and we moved in at the end of June 2019.

Did you have to do much to the space?

I always told myself that the day I buy I will redo everything because I love decor - I am very sensitive to design, design in the broad sense. But in fact I was very lucky, the work had already been done by the former owner, with great taste and simplicity, I loved it all!

How did you approach decorating?

I did all the interior decoration with my sister. We did it together, because we are both passionate about decoration. We got into design through our parents. It started when I was very young. At the age of 14 my father gave me a Diamond armchair by H. Bertoia! At the time I was upset and my mother said to me "one day you will understand". And today this chair is still in my living room!

I always thought that if one day I bought my own offices I would be happy and so that's what I did! We changed all our old furniture, even the small spoons!

Why did you choose USM?

What is interesting is that we choose USM storage first. It really was our starting point. I also knew it would be an investment that would last a lifetime.

I always saw USM furniture in my father's offices, customers' homes, and your showroom when I walked by ... so the desire was always there. I'd said to myself that when I have my own space it would be my turn, so this is really a culmination!

USM furniture was the easy choice, but when it came to choosing the colours, it took me several nights! I have a real problem when it comes to choosing! I hesitated forever between yellow, green, blue.

USM set the tone, and how did you decide on everything else?

I love vintage furniture from the 20th century and I had no doubt the vintage pieces would fit well with the USM furniture. So I hunted for everything on the Internet or via my contacts and gallery owners I knew. Each piece of furniture and object comes from a different person, it was real bargain hunting!

Did you already have pieces in mind that you had to have?

Yes, absolutely. But once the USM furniture was chosen, the hardest part was finding the desks for the whole team that would match perfectly. And I'm very happy with the result: Richard Lampert desks, with tubular structures similar to USM. I find that they work very well together. Once the storage and the desks were sorted, I tackled the rest.

The meeting table for example. I knew I wanted a marble table and then we had to search for specialists. I ended up finding THE person specialising in marble tables, who buys them at auctions and reconditions them. By taking my time I managed to find all the pieces missing.

Have you finished or is there more to add?

It's almost over. We've finalised the lighting. I love lamps and light is so important in a working environment. Previously we had awful neon lights, so we put small V. Panton lamps throughout, which adds pastel notes that warm the space. People often make fun of me and my multiple lights!

Are you proud of the result?

What I like is that we managed to create different places in the office. The team can move from one place to another: sit in the USM library, have a meeting in the kitchen, go down to the break area to play foosball.

We also have a lot of stools, everyone can take one to sit at each other's desks, so you don't have to have meetings in the meeting room. We've made a lot of informal points, as it is very related to our job, and nurtures creativity. Not being in the same place all the time was a bit of a challenge with the new desks.

And finally, what do you like most about your business?

There are many things that I like but my main interest is design even though my initial training was not in graphic design. Today, I'm able to understand what customers want and provide creative judgment. Where I have a lot of fun is when I co-build with the team to find new concepts and graphic codes, which meet constraints, and the expectations of our customers who are more and more eco-responsible ... it's exciting!

The other important aspect is the state of mind at Trapeze: a small, hyper-united, collaborative and very positive team.

But my greatest satisfaction is knowing that my Trapeze artists are happy to come to work in the morning: without that Trapeze would make no sense!

We warmly thank Vanessa Angeloglou for her welcome and our fascinating discussions. You can follow the Trapeze agency on their Instagram account @trapezedesign.

Photographs : Alexandre Moulard