October 16, 2020

HiP Winner Fitgi Saint-Louis Infuses Each Project With Passion

For Fitgi Saint-Louis, who received the Rising Star in Workplace Design award at this year’s virtual HiP People awards ceremony, learning from those around her has proved fruitful for her career. Since starting out as an intern at Gensler 10 years ago, Saint-Louis has continuously taken advantage of opportunities to grow her skillset. Now her work as an environmental graphic designer broadly impacts the firm’s projects.

But Saint-Louis’s passion for design began much earlier, stemming from her parents. “Our home had materials and books on everything from jewelry making and floral design to wood carving and watercolors,” she says. “Inspired by them, I began creating my own projects… I had a felt shoe collection, gave hand-drawn books as gifts, and made cardboard storefronts. I loved how I could take an idea and give it form, make it useful, and share it with others.” Saint-Louis carries that sentiment throughout her work, constantly evaluating the people and cultures at the heart of each project.

“I want to support those who best know their spaces by championing their ideas and thoughts with the knowledge and experience I have to find a unique and tailored solution,” she adds. “I find it key to start each project with a wider lens and go beyond the mostly Eurocentric references we were taught to follow.” To do this, Saint-Louis makes an effort to incorporate inspiration and materials across the globe, looking to fashion, art, food, and performance spaces—environments she feels especially at home in as an accomplished performance artist—while sourcing relevant historical references. At the moment, the designer is engrossed in learning more about computing, numbers, and patterns in Indigenous and African cultures, which she plans to use in upcoming projects.

One of Saint-Louis’s recent projects, the new Xandr Headquarters, is adorned with environmental graphics using algorithmic-derived branding and vintage poster advertisements from the Bell Lab archives. Photography by Inessa Binenbaum, courtesy of Gensler.

In addition to Saint-Louis’s design accolades, she is most proud of cultivating a lifestyle that supports her many interests. “Over the last decade, I’ve been able to work on local brand identity projects to complex workplace headquarters, all while performing internationally in films and teaching,” she says. “Naturally, there are days where it’s better than others, but I recognized the importance of focusing on my wellness, then crafting my week around those needs.” She also created the GiveThemHair project on Instagram to share the versatility and beauty of Black hair. “Growing up, my family, friends, and I all had our hair chemically straightened to make it manageable for our parents, but also to align to beauty standards that elevated straight hair as the most respected,” Saint-Louis recalls, noting that in college she learned to embrace her hair’s natural texture. GiveThemHair “has been a great space to challenge perceptions, share tips, and celebrate the brilliancy of natural hair,” she adds. “Next, I’d love to host a workshop and eventually create a book.”

Recent DesignWire