Escape from the zoo: Ionna Vautrin’s ’Le Bestiaire’ opens at FIAF New York

Le Coq Hardi and Ratatouille Uncover
Paris-based designer Ionna Vautrin’s ‘Le Bestiaire’ is on show at New York’s FIAF from 16 January. Pictured left: Le Coq Hardi, by Perrine Vigneron and Gilles Belley. Right: Ratatouille Uncover, by Felipe Ribon
(Image credit: Lonna Vautrin)

French designer Ionna Vautrin is transporting her boisterous and playful costume design exhibition, ‘Le Bestiaire’ to New York’s French Institute Alliance Française.

Originally shown during the Biennale Internationale Design in Saint Etienne last year, the imaginative collection allows individuals to immerse themselves into the animal kingdom. Vautrin has previously designed collections for Sancal through to Kvadrat, always with a slightly animalistic and conceptual edge. Using her creative quirk, she appointed a group of French artists to realise abstract visions of wildlife costumes. The result is weird and wild, yet with a soft, innocent touch to pique the interests of her target audience: children.

Described as an ‘imaginary zoo’, the 14 artists – including Malika Favre, Anne Lutz and Joachim Jirou-Najou – branched outside of their artistic comfort zones to a more whimsical world where children are invited to model the costumes and appear as the creatures.

The designs range from a slightly grotesque flesh and veined form from Felipe Ribon to more ingenuous blushed cheek illustrations by Vautrin herself, and a colourfully patterned bird by Paris-based Amélie Fontaine. Design studio Brichet Ziegler also adopted a similar approach and created an animated persona of ‘Gary’ the snail. Alternatively, London-based Favre maintained her sophisticated aesthetic and produced a geometric frowning owl in mature, dark shades.

‘Le Bestiaire’ remains on show until 2 April and is part of the inaugural Tilt Kids Festival and Oui Design, a program initiated by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Like all fantastical ideas, Vautrin artfully poses a philosophical question on her own concept, questioning the creative process: 'Could it be the desire to tame wild animals that propels designers to represent fierce creatures as docile pets?’ Food for thought.

Messieurs and Drac

The installation comprises abstractly designed animal costumes by 14 different artists. Pictured left: Messieurs, by Anne Lutz. Right: Drac, by Bonnefrite

(Image credit: Ionna Vautrin)

Nours and Yoio

Pictured left: Nours, by Joachim Jirou-Najou. Right: Yoio, by Twice

(Image credit: Ionna Vautrin)

Cubozoa, by Ionna Vautrin and Perroquet Rouge, by Amélie Fontaine

Created initially for children, the designs include these innocent forms by Amélie Fontaine and Vautrin herself. Pictured left: Cubozoa, by Ionna Vautrin. Right: Perroquet Rouge, by Amélie Fontaine

(Image credit: Ionna Vautrin)

Left: Leo Parciparla, by Helkarava. Right: Yeti Grizzyeti, by Leslie David

Children are invited to model the costumes and appear as the creatures. Pictured left: Leo Parciparla, by Helkarava. Right: Yeti Grizzyeti, by Leslie David

(Image credit: Ionna Vautrin)

left: Pongo, by Louise de Saint-Angel. Right: Eugène, by Malika Favre

London-based artist Malika Favre maintain her sophisticated aesthetic, producing a geometrical frowning owl in mature, dark shades. Pictured left: Pongo, by Louise de Saint-Angel. Right: Eugène, by Malika Favre

(Image credit: Ionna Vautrin)

Left: Gary, by Studio Brichet Ziegler. Right: Al Zebre, by Les Graphiquants

Described as an ’imaginary zoo’, ‘Le Bestiaire’ is on view until 31 March. Pictured left: Gary, by Studio Brichet Ziegler. Right: Al Zebre, by Les Graphiquants

(Image credit: Ionna Vautrin)


’Le Bestiaire’ is on view from 16 January – 2 April. For more information, visit the French Institute Alliance Française’s website

Photography: Ionna Vautrin


French Institute Alliance Française
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Between Park & Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022


Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.