In Like a Lion
As a former Cannes Lions Design Jury President and the co-founder of creative agency Design Army, Pum Lefebure is a literal arbiter of what everyone will be talking about next. As she readies for an in-person return to the Canne Lions International Festival of Creativity this June, Luxeicon chatted with her about why you can’t ignore the metaverse, how representation really makes a difference in the creative community … and where to make reservations should you find yourself on the French Riviera this summer.
By Katie Bianco
“I tell my team, sketch first. Don’t pull from Pinterest,” says Pum Lefebure, the co-founder and chief creative officer of Design Army. The Thailand native knows starting with a sketch means the only limit is your imagination. Pushing beyond those bounds is what made Lefebure and Design Army award-winning industry leaders for nearly 20 years. With campaigns for brands like Netflix, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and Ritz-Carlton (this campaign for Hong Kong Ballet shows why Lefebure and her team are true creative geniuses), Lefebure has set the creative standard over her two decades as a business owner and entrepreneur.
Last year, Cannes Lions—the international festival attracting creative leaders from around the globe—named Lefebure the Design Jury President. It was an important designation as the festival continues to push for parity in representation (the jury was 57% female last year), something that is a cause close to Lefebure’s heart.
“When I started out, all of my bosses were men,” she says. “But I think we are progressing and moving away from design as a male-dominated industry. Hopefully we won’t even talk about diversity in 10 years. Everybody will have an opportunity to dream and grow and shine based on their talent. But the more vocal we are, the better.”
With that call in mind, Lefebure is also the vice chair of the board for One Club, a nonprofit celebrating the success of the global creative community and a champion of diversity in the creative industry.
Lefebure also spends her time looking at what’s coming next. And, she says, the metaverse is here to stay—a new way of communicating that will have a big impact on the design industry.
“We are entering the new world now,” says Lebefure. “It’s the Web 3.0 era. We have to prepare ourselves to be ready for it: Cryptocurrency, NFT, the metaverse, all of it. It’s not that we are about to enter, I think we are here already. It’s time to rethink everything, relearn everything and unlearn the old stuff so we can enter the new territory of this unknown world.”
In short: “How do we take what we know, which is visual storytelling and design, and create and apply this to the non-real world?”
Where it’s all headed no one knows, but we do know Lefebure will be there with a sketch pad.
Below, with Cannes Lions making its triumphant, in-person return June 20-24, Luxeicon asked Lefebure to share her recommendations for visiting the chic city.
As a creative, part of your job is to stay inspired. Where are you going in Cannes to feel inspired?
If I need a little ‘me’ time, I walk to Old Town, Le Suquet. There are a lot of cute restaurants, ice cream shops and very narrow streets all going uphill. There’s a church called Notre Dame d’Esperance. It’s a really lovely church and it has the best view in the city. And it’s quiet. I’ll walk up there by myself if I have time.
Cannes is a 24-hour city during the festival. Where are you going late night?
La Mome is a really great restaurant. You go there and start with raw bites, some cocktails. They have the best truffle everything. The truffle risotto is unparalleled. Then usually we go to the Carlton terrace. You have dinner at 11 p.m. and then you go to the Carlton terrace. That’s where everybody goes. You’ll have rosé and catch up with everyone. It’s like a huge party on the terrace and the next thing you know the sun’s coming up. I remember walking home one night and it was morning. The Carlton is under construction this year though, but there’s also the Radisson Blu Hotel. It has fabulous views over the port. It’s also great for cocktails.
Let’s talk shopping. Any must-visit boutiques?
I usually don’t have time to shop in Cannes. But if you’re shopping, go to the La Croisset. That’s where you’ll see all the luxury brands. I like 55 Croissette. There’s a mix of brands there. Stella McCartney, Gievenchy, Balmain, McQueen. The buy in Cannes is a little bit sexier than in Paris. They have nice cocktail dresses with a Mediterranean vibe.
If you had a day to yourself in Cannes, what would you do?
I would take a day trip to Eze. It’s a very charming Medieval village between Nice and Monaco. It’s a best kept secret [on the French Riviera]. It has charming restaurants, a cool cactus garden and the view is just the ocean to infinity.
Where are you recharging? Any must-visit spas?
The Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc in Antibes is a favorite. They have a La Prairie spa. There’s a caviar facial and a salt-water massage. It’s a beautiful hotel. You can take a boat to it and the hotel also has a nice restaurant, Eden-Roc Grill, to get dinner.
What about French pastries? Where are you going for sweets?
The Boulangerie Jean-Luc Pelé has yummy desserts, great macaroons and croissants. The La Chocolaterie is a chocolate shop on Rue Meynadier. They only sell chocolate. Literally. You can buy chocolate shoes and even a chocolate Kama Sutra!
It’s the French Riviera, where are you going to lay on the beach?
The Plage du Midi is a quiet beach for relaxing and it has some great restaurants like L’Alba Restaurant. It’s beachside and has delicious food and lovely wooden decking areas to sit and eat overlooking the beach a bit away from the crazy busyness of the Croisette.
If you want something a little more social try the Annex Beach on the Croisset.
It was an honor to witness the remembrance of my dear friend and fashion industry icon.