Behind the Cover: Romain Lenancker reimagines the textures plus forms of nature for Shape Magazine

Reading Time: 3 minutes

With Mold ’s fifth yearly issue exploring what seedling intelligence can teach us on the subject of preparing for an uncertain upcoming, Lenancker’s hypnotising still-life cover up was born from sculpting and photographing seed-inspired shapes

In order to hazard the dreamworld of Romain Lenancker is to picture a shimmering pool swirled with tangerine carp; the polished mahogany-clad vault stacked high with treasure, or an ambrosian banquet, festooned with earthly delights. ‘Luxe’, ‘gloss’, and ‘swoon’ hardly ever far from the lips of these who describe his Paris-based studio practice: a smooth mix of research, photography, artwork direction and set design, enlisted by commercial clients which includes Cartier, Dior, Gucci and Chanel. Yet behind the sheen, it transpires that Lenancker’s true affinity is by using the natural world.  

For all of us, the easy pleasure of trampling in to nature has never been so favorite than in recent times. For Lenancker, a lockdown spent within the Dordogne, south-west France, was obviously a consolidation of his connection to the forest landscape, first ignited during his child years on the nape of the French Alps. It is the “details” of nature which captivate him most: finding ways to replicate organic forms in his recording studio – first into literally sculpted objects, then into a photographic image – is really a process which allows him in order to “get closer” to nature. Such work is something of a tonic, he admits, when urban life stops easy access.  

© Romain Lenancker intended for Mold Magazine.

Whenever Lenancker was approached simply by Mold Journal – an annual publication discovering the innovative ideas and “design-driven solutions” emerging at the intersections of food, technology, science and engineering –  the “close-ups” he turned to were the stuff of seeds. Mold ’s fifth issue examines what seed cleverness can teach us about getting yourself ready for an uncertain future; component of their wider focus on ideas that will “revolutionise” how we create, prepare and eat food within the years to come. Viewing Lenancker’s work through this particular lens adds another captivating filter to his perspective on the natural world.

Regarding Mold , Lenancker’s first step was your same as always: rigorous study into his subject matter, which usually taught him of the “textures and forms” of seeds. His ‘seeds’ then discovered physical form in a number of sculpted clay-like shapes, every dutifully sanded to be seeing that “round as a pebble”. Lastly, with ten shapes polished to perfection, and the “biggest job” complete, it was time for you to pick up his camera.  

Lenancker insists his method of shooting is “spontaneous, intuitive”, understanding the medium as a kind of research in itself: namely through experiments in light and composition. “Almost never” is there the “strict creative vision prior to shooting. ” Editing, too, is seemingly a breeze. Images are left to “sit as they are” after the shoot, and the selection process given several days to work itself out; never “overanalysed” or “agonised over”.

© Romain Lenancker regarding Mold Magazine.

© Romain Lenancker for Form Magazine.

Such an confident operation, however , is not without its trials. Having (literally) carved himself into a tight creative niche, Lenancker admits his most acute problem is to constantly “innovate and find new ideas”. To strike the right balance is to prevent falling into a “comfortable pattern” of working, while being careful not to stray beyond the boundary from the touchstones that define their practice. Still, there is joy in the struggle: “I generally take pleasure in trying new things, ” he says. “When I look for a new angle, or a technique to work with, it is always thrilling. ”

Reinvention can be both deliberate and – at times – serendipitous. During the set design on the Mold shoot, for example, a team member’s clothing briefly flashed across the lens, leaving an inadvertent “shot associated with colour” on the frame . Lenancker marvels at exactly how, with a single, accidental heart stroke, the images he had created of as black and white took a “whole new creative direction”: swiftly transforming into vibrant colour fields of rose, apricot and bronze; rich, warm plus fleshy.  

Rarely does bold creative vision, independence and trust coalesce in the realm of magazine projects, Lenancker is keen to indicate. Even “to agree on a selection for a cover is an uncommon enough feat, ” he or she jokes (albeit one which is sure to “guarantee a success”). Yet nestled in the exotic twists and turns of his pictures – radiant within their bewitching forms and otherworldly palette – the fruits (or seeds) of their open-mind are plain to see.  

Seeds, in fact , which may provide nourishment beyond his own studio: through the thrill of the natural world, and the pleasure of the unexpected.  

thisismold. apresentando | lenancker. com

© Romain Lenancker for Shape Magazine.

Louise Long

Louise Long is a London-based photographer and writer using a focus on culture and journey. Her work has been published in Wallpaper*, CEREAL, British Vogue and Conde Nast Traveller amongst others. She is also the founder of Linseed Journal, an independent publication exploring culture and local identity.

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