Elodie Boyer: Lettres du Havre City, text and symbols

Like Rotterdam, Le Havre is one of those cities that may not be classically beautiful but does open up an astonishing amount of room for creativity. To this day, the French port city is marked by the destruction that it suffered in the Second World War – and the modern reconstruction of the city center to a master plan by Auguste Perret in the 1950s. The economic ups and downs of the port and the oil industry have left brownfield sites in the urban environment that attract creative and alternative uses. Here, French brand consultant and design manager Élodie Boyer found a working environment in stark contrast to the glittering metropolis of Paris. In 2011, she added to her Paris-based agency by establishing the “Éditions Non Standard” publishing house, in which she invests passion into realizing book projects.

One example is Lettres du Havre, a volume weighing almost two kilograms. The title alone plays on two meanings of the French word lettre, referring both to letters of the alphabet and mailed letters. For the book, Élodie Boyer roamed Le Havre with her camera and documented lettering and signs around the city. These photographs are accompanied in the book by fictional letters by author Jean Segui; images and text are interwoven in a multi-faceted, authentic and engaging portrait of the city, paying homage to its rugged beauty. Élodie Boyer and unit-design are linked by repeated collaborations on branding and signage projects in recent years, which have now blossomed into a professional friendship. That was why Bernd Hilpert was happy to make a guest contribution to Élodie Boyer's book, dealing with matters of text and symbols in urban environments from the perspectives of architects and information designers, alongside other contributions from semiotician Valérie Patrin-Leclère, graphic designer Patrick Doan and Arie Lenoir, who designs and prints art books in Amsterdam.

Éditions Non Standard:


Contribution to Lettres du Havre (in French):