Some years ago, Ginette Caron sent her friends and contacts a postcard to announce her new Italian citizenship. It was a simple gesture – merely a change of colour from red to green on the left-hand side – that created a visual mix of the flag of her country of origin, Canada, with that of her adopted country, Italy.
From then on, that image has often appeared alongside her work, in two or three dimensions, on paper or on coloured plexiglass. Ginette Caron’s flag, with its concise signifiers, says much about her way of working as a designer. She is always driven by personal intuition, but never lacks clarity or precision.
Her approach allows her a free hand, and often enables her to design communicative objects that are closer to the ideas she wants to put across, and the spirit that inspires them, than those limited by a particular specialisation. Design, for Caron, is a kind of instinctive language, given that she grew up in a family where her grandfather and uncle were both graphic designers, and her father an architect.
The designer lives and works in the heart of historic Milan, beside the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, but over the years she has maintained a fresh point of view that isn’t dependent on Italian history and culture. After a long collaboration with the Italian architect and designer Pierluigi Cerri / Gregotti Associates, Caron became the graphic design director for two influential Italian fashion brands: Prada and Benetton. Despite being known for sophisticated and elegant design, Caron is able to work with clients from diverse sectors. Her re-design of San Carlo’s potato crisp packaging (commissioned by the then creative director Oliviero Toscani) in 2002 replaced their highly coloured packaging with an unusual white, dominated by an image of a single crisp. When it first appeared, it represented a huge departure for the brand, but over time it has become widely accepted and is now part of the large-scale packaging landscape.