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Concordia grad’s passion for design applied from potato-chip packages to Vatican pavilion

Ginette Caron, BFA 74, aims her bright, playful work at our inner child
August 14, 2019
By Simona Rabinovitch

Expo Milano 2015 – Holy See Pavilion Expo Milano 2015 – Holy See Pavilion | Photo from

She has designed everything from potato chip packages to the Vatican’s pavilion at the 2015 Milan International World’s Fair. From wallets, agendas and posters to logos, toys and clothing – most of these infused with a vibrancy in colour and style that is playfully infectious – Ginette Caron, BFA (graphic design) 74, designs for our inner child.

After working as design director at Benetton, then Prada, her studio, Ginette Caron Communication Design, has been her main focus for the past two decades. Having designed throughout her career for brands such as Bulgari and Swatch, Caron’s trans-disciplinary work includes branding, posters, art books, packaging, products and what she calls “archigrafia.”

“I don’t have a specialty but I have preferences: packaging, and graphics for architecture,” she says. “I really like to design beyond a printed paper. I also like to sew and produce fashion-design elements.”

Caron has lived in Italy since 1980, when, portfolio in hand, she started knocking on the doors of the best graphic design studios in Paris, Amsterdam, London, Prague, Warsaw, Berlin and more. After a three-month trip, when she got off the train in Italy, for what was supposed to be a year, she put down roots.

“I thought, ‘this is my country.’ I loved everything – the people, the language, the food, the temperature, the art. Not being born here, I appreciate it more. Every day has a surprise and it’s nice to keep this sense of wonder!”

Ginette Caron Ginette Caron traces her passion for art back to her Concordia education in the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Caron’s passion for art and design dates to her Concordia days in the Faculty of Fine Arts, she says. “Aside from graphic design, we learned painting, drawing, art history, photography and were exposed to a lot of art insights and techniques.” She adds that back when she was a francophone student with a background in classical studies and health and social science, Concordia gave her a “real opportunity” to enter the field.

As an international university lecturer, her favourite subject is identity and packaging. Her many awards and honours include the Grands Prix du Design, 2018; being named an honorary ambassador of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation for 2017; and election to membership in the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 2011.

“Most young students relate to cognition mainly through the internet; they hardly know how to make a 3-D object out of a piece of paper. I try to make them aware that inspiration is not only on the web – real things do exist and create experiences.”

Caron is particularly proud of her work alongside architects AAAA Quattroassociati and graphic designer Masami Moriyama as part of the team behind the award-winning Holy See pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. This earned her the Bureau International des Expositions prize and AWDA/AIAP Women in Design prize, among others.

“The themes of the pavilion were, ‘not by bread alone,’ and, ‘give us today our daily bread.’ Those two sentences, chosen by the Vatican, were translated into 13 languages and mounted as white metallic letters on the white pavilion (“like manna falling from the sky”), to be read through their shadows.”

When the exhibition ended and the pavilion had to be demolished, she says: “I wanted to keep the holy words and spread their message all over the world.” With the Vatican’s support and the help of sponsors and two co-curators, this project, The Journey of the Word, has, till now, mounted 18 of these 25 metallic messages to locations across the planet.

Caron is in talks to include locations in Quebec, having established others in Italy, Macau, Germany, Guinea-Bissau and soon in the Vatican museums.

“People get very emotional when they are chosen to receive one of these sentences, because besides being a gift from the Vatican, the message is ecumenical, universal and embraces all religions,” she says.


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