Spotlight On: Jackie Shapiro & French Bull

jackie shapiro for french bull

We were recently given the chance to ask Jackie Shapiro, the creative genius behind the daring and colourful designs we know and love from French Bull, a few questions about her work, her all-time favourite design, and where the name ‘French Bull’ came from!

The designs on French Bull’s range of homewares are, in a word, iconic. They’re vibrant, full of energy, and they bring that same energy into your life whenever and wherever you use them.

The mastermind behind these sensational pieces is New York-based designer Jackie Shapiro. Shapiro founded French Bull in 2002 and since then has redefined drinkware and tableware with her boldness and vibrancy. Below, Jackie answers a few of our questions about the French Bull brand and about her work. Check it out!

We hear you were one of the first designers to work with digital artwork. What are your thoughts on digital design in 2017?

Thanks for asking – I think about designing digitally often vs using former traditional mediums. I think I’d be a terrible designer today without a computer. I bought my first Mac the second it came on the market in 1984 – I know I’m old!

Here’s a video of me on TV using my Mac to design clothes.

My thoughts about digital design in 2017 are what my thoughts have been from the moment I started using a computer to design… I love it, and it’s the only way for me. I’m inpatient and of course I always want more speed / RAM, more tools, more automation, more storage.

Right now, I’d love a 3D printer to experiment with mould shapes for cups, bottles, plates, bowls, and a large fabric printer so I could see my patterns and make bags, scarves, clothes, upholstery, rugs – everything!

A few years back I was among several key design leaders to be invited by ‘top3 by design’ in Australia to custom design a Playsam Streamliner [a Scandinavian designed wooden toy car] in my style. As I circled around this exciting and super honourable challenge, I couldn’t help thinking that the design was already so beautiful – I couldn’t bear to tinker with its form like many of the other designers, I later found out, had. I went back to fashion, and my love for dressing up and down, and made a closet of what I call SLIPS for my Playsam. All the creations were auctioned off to kick off a trust fund to build Australia’s first contemporary international design museum (aiming for 2020) called Designbank.

Here’s a video of me describing the design.

Having a 3D printer and fabric printer would have been fantastic!

Where do you find your inspiration for your many designs? 

You never know what will inspire. There’s pattern and shape in pretty much everything. I come up with new ideas in so many ways. I look at fashion, the streets, check out what the cool kids are up to. Another crazy one is when I see something without my glasses on. I tend to fill in the blur with my imagination. I love collage and juxtaposing. Cross-referencing diverse origins with iconic revolutions in pop culture.

I love the art work of Corita Kent and am crazy for Beatriz Milhazes. I love the bold simple statements made by so many mid-19th century artists. My favorite is Ellsworth Kelly and I adore looking at modern kid’s plush dolls and rooms on Pinterest. I also follow lots of creatives on Instagram.

I often reference record covers which I check out at lpcoverlover.com. I’m fascinated by Thermochromic pigments and how they react.

Is there an all-time favourite print from your designs?

The all-time favourite print from my designs is always the last one I created.

The name French Bull is quite unique. We believe this is inspired by your own French Bulldog?

I had an English Bull dog. His name was Dash but sadly he passed away last June 2016. I named the company French Bull in homage to the gorgeously ugly-pretty French Bulldog, whose allure lies in its soulful contradictions. I took inspiration from the frisky nature, compact stature, and mighty will of the off-beat French Bull dog.

Our French Bull mark illustrates our solid foundation, heady profile, and alert bat-like ears that navigate us through any challenge. Plus, they are just too cute.

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How did your collaboration with Neoflam come about?

We have deep ties and roots in Korea by way of our licensing partner French Bull Korea whose managing principal is Ms Moon Joo Kim. She has championed the brand for decades, and worked with Neoflam to manufacture many of the items in her French Bull product range. In 2014 I had the pleasure to meet Tae Chang, a founding partner of Neoflam, and we have collaborated on everything together ever since.

How has social media affected French Bull?

There are loads of social media tools out there, and we’ve learnt that each one serves the brand a little differently. We love it all, but it’s definitely an added a layer of expertise that we haven’t totally mastered.

Overall we have a very open dialogue with our consumers, through which we have learnt a lot about our customer and they, in turn, about the brand. One thing we definitely strive for is replies that are immediate and engaged to help foster the brand’s trust in the market.

If you could offer one piece of advice to a rising star in the design world what would it be?

Just start. Start making, designing, promoting, selling. It’s scary and easy to talk yourself into obstacles ahead, but my advice to any designer is always to keep going! I learned everything just by doing it.

Bonus – What we’re loving right now from the brand new French Bull range

The exciting French Bull designs now come in a range of porcelain dinnerware and drinkware – which you can shop online at Zanui! There’s so much to love, it’s hard for us to choose which of these new pieces is our absolute favourite, which is why we haven’t picked just one!

For the Coffee Fiend

You can’t go past the Traveller Mug. Because they’re made of porcelain, they help keep your drinks warmer (or cooler) for longer. They’re washable and reusable, which means you’ll be helping the environment by using one of these instead of taking your coffee in disposable cups. They come complete with a silicone sleeve to save your fingers from the heat of the mug, and they’re perfect for enjoying coffee on the go! Or chai. Or hot chocolate. Whatever you like!

french bull dessert mug

For the Dessert Lover 

We love love love the French Bull Dessert Mugs. They’re perfect for a quick and easy mug cake or even a decadent hot chocolate with all the trimmings – marshmallows, cream, sprinkles, the works! Yum yum yum!

french bull food storage containers

For the Well-Organised

These porcelain food storage containers are perfect for storing (and refrigerating, and freezing, and reheating!) dinner leftovers. We also love them for organising your kitchen condiments.  They’re even great for storing items outside the kitchen, like sewing supplies, arts and crafts items, and makeup!