She used to sketch fashion designs in her bedroom as a child. Now 26, Fanette Peschaud is a designer for a national gift-packaging company north east of Lille.
Some of the festive paper and gift bags on shop shelves this season were first sketched by Fanette and her colleagues more than a year ago, before being manufactured and distributed ready for this Christmas.
‘My route to becoming a professional designer’
“I’ve always been creative and, for as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed coming up with designs and working with my hands,” she says.
“When I was little, I dreamed of being a fashion designer and I used to spend my time designing outfits. I was particularly interested in working with patterns, but I never could have envisaged the career I have now.”
Her route into the profession has not been straightforward.
“After my baccalauréat, I studied psychology for a year before choosing applied arts, where I discovered I really enjoyed working with textiles.
“I took a BTS [similar to a Higher National Diploma] in textile design, followed by a Licence Pro [vocational degree], and this led to my first job as a textile designer for childrenswear.”
After that, Fanette moved to a role designing household linen before securing a position at Clayrton’s in Roubaix.
“I joined the company 18 months ago to replace someone who was on maternity leave, then I was lucky enough to sign a permanent contract because the firm was looking to take on a second designer,” she says.
‘We are currently working on Christmas 2024’
Fanette works on designs for two brands – Clayrton’s Floral and Créastyl.
“There are five of us in the design department. Between us, we work on research and development, the liaison between design and production, and essentially cover the whole evolution of each range from the initial sketches to the finished product.
“Christmas starts early here, and although we generally begin creating the festive collection in March, it can be a lot earlier. For example, we are currently working on the 2024 Christmas collection, which will be presented at the Christmas World trade fair in January, before being released at the end of next year.”
‘We predict up-coming trends, textures and colours’
Much of Fanette’s role relies on anticipating trends, rather like the fashion industry.
“To do this, we work with a specialist consultancy that helps us to predict upcoming trends,” she says.
“We draw inspiration from them and rework them in-house until we get a design that is a perfect match for our customers.
“We analyse the themes, the style of graphics, the textures and the season’s must-haves, then decide on up-to-date colour ranges.”
In practice, this means that alongside the traditional festive combinations of red, green and gold, plus the elegant alternative palette of black and gold, Fanette’s team usually adds new ranges that reflect latest tastes.
“This season, for example, there’s a sense of nostalgia and going back to the simple things, so there’s a call for a more stripped-back, natural feel that has a marked ecological awareness,” she says.
“We already manufacture with water-based inks and are eco-friendly in our approach, so this works well for us.”
‘Bags are trickier to design than wrapping paper’
Globally, France produces and uses very little gift wrap: an estimated 40 million rolls of wrapping paper are bought in the country each year, and half of this is for the festive season.
Créastyl is one of the few French packaging companies with its own in-house design team. Founded in 1979 in the Rhône-Alpes, it relocated to Roubaix near the Belgian border in 2014 when they were acquired by the floral and festive company Clayrton’s.
“As well as traditional wrapping paper, we design kraft-paper bags, bottle bags and labels, most of which are printed here in Roubaix,” says Fanette.
“We produce standard ranges for all occasions, a children’s range and a Valentine’s Day range, and we also offer a personalisation service for packaging and for the floral designs.”
Fanette finds Valentine’s Day the most challenging holiday to design for.
“It’s not necessarily an event that I celebrate, so I have to try to get myself in the mindset of a person with desires and tastes that are different from mine.
“On a technical level, bags and cones are always more tricky to design than wrapping paper, although they’re still a nice little challenge.”
She urges anyone with a creative streak who would be interested in this type of work to take the plunge.
“Even if studying art can be a bit of a scary choice, do it,” she says.
“Personally, I don’t believe in innate talent; for me, its practice, desire and passion that really bring results.
“Don’t put barriers in your way: stay curious, take pleasure in whatever you’re creating, and try out different techniques, no matter the result.”