‘City of Light,’ a design project made in support of Paris after the terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015, was created for Stefan Sagmeister‘s class, Can Design Touch Someone’s Heart? by SVA MFA Design students Fiorella Basso and Anaële Pélisson. The video, posted just before the Thanksgiving holiday, has been shared by many on social media and is quickly gaining views. SVA Close Up caught up with Basso and Pélisson to learn a bit more about the project.
What inspired your project?
We were both working on another idea for this class project. And suddenly, the Paris attacks happened, and we felt an urge to deal with this topic. We both have tight links to Europe and especially France (Anaële is French and Fiorella has Italian roots, and we are both in love with France). We wanted to give hope to people in a very poetic way. The flowers are both the symbol for death and of permanent revival. We played with those two symbols, one represented by the black flowers, the darkness that you take away to discover the light and the joy.
What was the most surprising reaction to the project?
There were two reactions that really moved us. The first one was a French man who stopped to ask us more details. He was really moved, barely able to speak for a second. He said how important it was for him to see Paris supported like that, even in New York. He said, “I have no word to describe what I feel.”
The second reaction was from a little girl. She was approximately three-years-old, she stopped for five minutes and she started to smell the flowers. She was completely absorbed. Her dad tried to take her out but she did not move for five minutes. It was really touching.
What do you hope people take away from the project?
We wanted to give back hope to people. To tell them we won’t give up. What happened in Paris is a tragedy, the country is still shocked. The entire world was surprised and deeply sadden by the attacks. We thought it was important to show our support in our way.