The bands PNAU and Empire of the Sun are stalwarts of the Australian music scene. We find out why the musician and record producer to stars including Elton John has taken the change of direction from the beloved pop sounds of those bands to bring us the 2 Leaves Project.
You wrote recently: “Music is a way of putting a better foot forward, encapsulating all the mess and chaos into a few minutes of purity” - what do you feel when you are creating?
Creation for me has always been the most exhilarating part of the process, since a very early age I’ve felt a connection to something much larger and stronger than this reality. I was always making things with my brothers and my friends as a child. First it was photography, which then led me into making short films on super 8mm. I was fortunate to have had different mentors along the way both physical relationships such as my friend’s father who was a filmmaker and also my own grandfathers on both sides. One was an engineer who never completely got a chance to design and realize the wondrous things he had in his head and my other grandfather who was a major part of the design and construction of the Sydney Opera House as well as many other prominent buildings. So essentially I think I understood how lucky I was and always felt that anything was possible for me but more than that I wanted to create things that I could do cheaply but to great effect. Unlike film, which at that time was a very costly and lengthy process, (you’d shoot some rolls of Super 8mm and then send them off to Texas and wait for 6-8 weeks to get the developed lm back) music once I had a few very cheap analog synths was instant and for all intensive purposes free! So each afternoon after school I’d sit there making strange repetitive music and record onto old cassettes, this was the beginning of my career in many ways. So I guess I feel everything but I’ve tried to always paint stories through sound, I’ve seen colors and landscapes in my mind, to create emotional scenes, strange yet uplifting, foreign yet familiar.
You have achieved major success both with PNAU and Empire of the Sun - how is it working on different projects with different partners and stepping into different roles for your live performances?
I love having the chance to work in different modes. Both these projects have starkly different approaches and outcomes. Working with Peter Mayes from age 14 onwards we know each other very well, and many of our youthful experiences such as going out to warehouse parties and having crazy adventures still to this day inform the work we do, where as Empire of the Sun was something I started much later in life when I’d already had some success and a load of experience, having worked with a few different singers, creating with Luke Steele we instantly felt a crazy power when united, a much more visceral feeling that as my manager has said is like “lightning in a bottle”. Hard to control but powerfully present and confronting, full of childlike energy and passion. In many ways these two projects have become similar because of
the success that they have enjoyed, as now it is expected that we offer up radio friendly or sync friendly pieces. That is the major reason why I’ve started this new “ The 2 Leaves Project” to create something truly artful and free, away from the trappings of ownership and the weight of outside interest. What I mean is I’m now much more excited about once more painting with sound and doing so with people who don’t necessarily t into a pop mold. Nothing is forced here it’s all natural, like the universe itself I let all ideas in to these collaborations and make decisions solely on feeling without trying to force them into three minute packages.
PNAU is one of Australia’s most loved electronic acts with five critically acclaimed albums including a UK #1 album with Sir Elton John – how do you approach the challenge of starting from the beginning with a new type of project?
I love newness and I love to work with people who come from a different place to me. Each of my bands has its manifesto and that helps me to understand how to differentiate between them. But yeah as they go on there tends to be more opinions and expectations on them. I create this new Project as a revolving door of artists to work with. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to meet and record with an enormous amount of gifted individuals over the years, and this is a way of making something with each or as many of them as I can. It’s made only for people who share a deep love of creation, not the ones who’ve allowed music to turn into a business or livelihood. It can be both and that’s where I reside. Most of my time now is focused on working with fringe artists and applying all I know to bring out the best in them and hopefully shine a light on talent that might have otherwise been marginalized, but not exclusively because some of the artists are well established and then its just people I feel that great connection to and a shared love of musical conversations.
Tell us about the Two Leaves Project - You represent one leaf and the other is constantly shifting between different collaborators – why this innovative approach?
I do it for my own sanity, which at times is extremely elusive! It all came out of a few extremely deep experiences with DMT, my take away from meeting the universe and tapping into the cosmic consciousness was to share more and make more, so I started a record label to facilitate this. These records are about healing, and none more so than this current release with “Brooke Shelley” an extraordinary artist, singer, choirmaster and composer. Brooke and I met and have worked together for many years in the background on numerous things but this was a chance to make a body of work just her and I wanted zero limitations and we approached it differently to all the others. To start with I wrote text, lots and lots of text, which I sent to Brooke. She has the immense talent and I wanted to allow her the space to create freely without borders, so it was her hand that added the music initially to it, to sing out my words, so it started like that and once she had added the initial strokes it was clear this was going to be very special.
You have described Two Leaves Project as: “About exploration, to make experimental works that delve deeper into the subconscious and the meditative”. Quite a shift from Electro-Pop hits, why did you take this new direction in your music?
For me, for you and for us. I grew up seeking out the weirdest music, as a kind of badge of honor. I felt with the advent of streaming that suddenly there was a chance to make longer form works that were more like companions for our daily lives. Music you could both listen intensely to and also have in the background while you did something else. 34 minutes is the chosen length, which to me seems just perfect. Whether you are driving someplace or exercising or making love or whatever, these records are your friends and offer something memorable in a different way to the hedonism of PNAU or the soft pop of Empire of the Sun.
Because there are so many different ones and we are all essentially leaves, or mushrooms or energy or whatever. Under these powerful trips I’ve taken, the plants have spoken to me, very directly. Nature is us, and I want to remind people of that. No two are the same; each contains all the stories of creation of this world and beyond.
Tell us about some of the collaborators you work with on this project?
The first album was a three-way collaboration between Tim Lefevbre and Vera Blue / Celia Pavey and myself. The second was with Henry Hey and myself. This third one is with Brooke Shelley. All of these artists are very different and the work we’ve done together is different again. Most of these records have been recorded quickly and full of instinct and then my time spent has been shaping and sculpting them into the records you now have. I’m doing mainly what I love and trying to capture these incredible artists in an unguarded moment then building the support network around them through sonic manipulation and instrumentation. Always swimming upwards but not in a stream you’re familiar with.
You have produced for a range of Artists including Robbie Williams, Mika, Groove Armada and an entire Elton John collaboration album remixing his old hits. How do you approach producing for other Artists?
Producing for other artists, known or successful ones is a real test and one needs to have the ability to be as large or as small as need be. It’s not about the producer it’s about bringing the best out of the artist and should be done as transparently as possible. A huge part of it is psychological, finding out what they want and what the record label want and what the fans need. Ultimately I try to serve the fans, and in order to do that I must become a fan of the chosen artist. It can be and should be an all-consuming process, something these days I somewhat shy away from and instead seek out unsung creatives or ones without the stigma of stadium level success, for it often alters the artist. I’ve loved working on all these projects and have tried my best to put as much love into them. It’s often the outside influence of the business side that’s detrimental and ultimately has little place in the studio.
The changes in the music business in recent years are well documented – how has that affected your process?
It would be easy to allow these changes to in influence the work and only focus on singles and follow the trends but the listener still wants to hear and that’s not a three-minute piece. They want to be transformed, taken to a higher ground, out of the storm of their own mind, to reach out a branch, to find a space where the music can enrich the witness.
If not music, what other careers could you see yourself in and why?
I still long to make films. I hope one day to find the space to do that. I write a lot of stories and prose, film has always been my first love. I really hope I can find the patience, persistence and strength to get there. I have extraordinary amounts of respect for anyone making films and long form pieces. Making films was my main focus up until about 16 years of age and I became obsessed with a few films in particular namely Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and Katsurhiro Otomo’s Akira. I must have watched both those films over a thousand times each! I did fairly early understand that the weight of making these kind of masterpieces was such a huge undertaking and that many many artists never get the opportunity to create on such a high level. It was when I made a short film called Stigmata about a young teen who takes an LSD trip that goes wrong that music first truly became a part of my creative process, and I felt such freedom within it. I know just how much effort it takes; unlike music it’s a very very long process. I need to focus more. I love making these albums and would like to make feature films to accompany them, but I’m funding it all myself at present and adding film into that will surely leave me homeless. I hope you take the time to listen to this very special artist “Brooke Shelley” on the new 2 leaves project entitled “Evening Of The Sky”.
If only concrete could talk! What stories would the walls, floors and ceilings of this bunker tell us? Built by the Nazis using forced labour, a warehouse for Cuban fruit, Techno parties and sex fairs, finally a home for Art.
1941: Planning of the “Friedrichstrasse Imperial Railway Bunker” by Karl Bonatz under supervision of Albert Speer, “General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital”.
1942: Construction of the bunker as an air-raid shelter for the civilian population, built by forced labourers.
1945: Bunker occupied by the Red Army and used for prisoners of war.
1949: Use as textile warehouse.
1957: Converted into warehouse for imported tropical fruit from Cuba, managed by state-owned company “Fruit Vegetables Potatoes”. Known locally as the “banana bunker”.
1990: After German Reunification, the building becomes the property of the federal government.
1992: Techno music and fetish parties mean that the bunker gains a reputation as the hardest club in the world.
1994: Deutsches Theater stages Simon Donald’s Lebenstoff (“Stuff of Life”) on the bunker’s fourth floor.
1995: “Sexperimenta”, a giant erotic trade fair.
1995: The New Year’s party “The Last Days of Saigon” is banned but nevertheless takes place. The authorities close the bunker.
1996: Art exhibition Files featuring Olafur Eliasson, Daniel Pflumm, Ugo Rondinone and others.
2001: Nippon Development Corporation GmbH acquires the bunker.
2003: Christian Boros purchases the bunker to convert it to house his collection.
2007: Completion of the renovations and first public showing of installations.
2008-2012: Collection #1, first exhibition of works from the collection attracting 120,000 visitors in over 7,500 tours.
2012-2016: Boros Collection #2, second exhibition of works from the collection attracting 200,000 visitors in over 9,000 tours.
In the Bunker artworks from the Boros Collection are exhibited.
Artists shown in the present exhibition Boros Collection / Bunker #3:
Martin Boyce, Andreas Eriksson, Guan Xiao, He Xiangyu, Uwe Henneken, Yngve Holen, Sergej Jensen, Daniel Josefsohn, Friedrich Kunath, Michel Majerus, Fabian Marti, Kris Martin, Justin Matherly, Paulo Nazareth, Peter Piller, Katja Novitskova, Pamela Rosenkranz, Avery Singer, Johannes Wohnseifer
Artists featured in the second show Boros Collection / Bunker #2:
Ai Weiwei, Awst & Walther, Dirk Bell, Cosima von Bonin, Marieta Chirulescu, Thea Djordjadze, Olafur Eliasson, Alicja Kwade, Klara Lidén, Florian Meisenberg, Roman Ondák, Stephen G. Rhodes, Thomas Ruff, Michael Sailstorfer, Tomás Saraceno, Thomas Scheibitz, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Danh Vo, Cerith Wyn Evans und Thomas Zipp.
Artists featured in the first show: Boros Collection / Bunker #1:
Michael Beutler, John Bock, Olafur Eliasson, Elmgreen & Dragset, Kitty Kraus, Robert Kusmirowski, Mark Leckey, Manuela Leinhoß, Sarah Lucas, Kris Martin, Henrik Olesen, Manfred Pernice, Daniel Pflumm, Tobias Rehberger, Anselm Reyle, Bojan Sarcevic, Santiago Sierra, Florian Slotowa, Monika Sosnowska, Katja Strunz und Rirkrit Tiravanija.
Credits: NOSHE and Wolfgang Stahr
Paul Evans, to which I must confess some astonishment, has emerged as America’s most highly valued Modernist furniture designer. Another New Hope master, along with George Nakashima and Phil Powell, Evans produced about 5,000 studio pieces of furniture, many of which were bench made one-off’s, fabricated in and around the Lambertville/New Hope artist’s colony, and about 20,000 factory pieces for the Directional furniture company which was then based in New York City.
Price confusion is to be expected, with Evans’ various periods and lines spanning three decades of production from about 1955 until his untimely death in 1987. We’ll revisit Evan’s work periodically but, for this initial instalment, I thought it best to focus on his massive, mostly brutal, case pieces. While to the casual eye they might appear similar, there are variations and nuance that can add tremendous interest (and value).
Good - Wavy front
Like all of Evans’ major case pieces, this Wavy Front credenza seems to be the avor of the month if prices currently paid for this line are any indication. Welded steel doors mounted on heavy, wooden carcasses, the background colors tend to vivid reds and golds. Like nearly all of Evan’s horizontal cabinets, the top is finished with inset slabs of locally mined slate. There is less work involved with this design, as we’ll see, which accounts for their lower, original sale price of about $400. According to Dorsey Reading, perhaps about forty Wavy Front pieces were produced at Evans’ studio.
Better - Sculpture Front
With rare exceptions, Evans’ Sculpture Front line is considered his premier offering. Every piece, in spite of a design vocabulary that is often repeated from example to example, is bench made. Evans was said to have sketched each panel in pencil, on a napkin, which he handed to his main fabricator Dorsey Reading (whose initials are often found on a hidden, interior corner). Complicated, intense, and similar in theme, each version of this form (he made about 75 Sculpture Front pieces of various shapes and sizes in all) shows variation in pattern, color, brightness, and size. Since “brutal” is the aesthetic, bigger is usually better.
Best - One off
While most of Evans’ furniture is a variation on a specific theme, we are ultimately dealing with the offspring of a creative, artistic mind. “Bench made” means exactly that and, accordingly, there are unique interpretations that venture into the realm of the extraordinary. This cabinet, designed at the behest of a new client who “didn’t like his other work”, is a hybrid between both a Wavy Front and a Sculpture Front and, for good measure, turned on its side into a standing cabinet. Bodacious, brutal, and beautiful, this vertical case piece is considered the pinnacle of Evans’ production and holds the world record for the artist’s work.
www.ragoarts.com Credits – RAGO Arts
WORLD INTERIOR OF THE YEAR 2017 – HIGHLIGHTS
INSIDE World Festival of Interiors, the leading global awards for interior design and architecture will announce the overall winner of the World Interior of the Year at an exclusive gala dinner in Berlin on the 17th November.
Projects from across the globe were entered across nine diverse categories, ranging
from grand civic spaces and hospitals to transportation hubs, bars and shops. Hosted alongside the World Architecture Festival (WAF), the INSIDE festival attracts in excess of 2,000 attendees each year for its three days of talks, awards, exhibitions and fringe events.
Shortlisted designers reflect the global reach of the awards and include Eight (USA), Tomoro Aida and Aida Atelier (Japan), Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (Australia) Carlo Berarducci Architecture (Italy), 3deluxe architecture (Germany), Arquitiectura en Movimiento Workshop (Mexico) and KSM Architecture (India). Australian practice SJB celebrates being the practice with the most shortlisted projects; four in total, while fellow Australian practice BVN and Chinese practice Neri&Hu Design and Research Office achieve three shortlisted projects apiece.
Here are some of the category highlights:
Creative re-use Category:
Soho 3Q Bund Shanghai, China
anySCALE Architecture Consultants Design and GMP Architects
Bars & Restaurants Category:
The Whale Bar Maldives, Maldives
WOW Architects and Warner Wong Design
Civic, Culture & Transport Category:
The Winton Gallery London, United Kingdom
Zaha Hadid Architects
Courtyard House @ Sungai Buloh Kelana Jaya, Malaysia
O2 Design Atelier
Health & Education Category:
NUBO Sydney, Australia
PAL Design Group
Nimman Spa Shanghai, China
Bars & Restaurants Category:
Big Small Coffee and Guestroom Beijing, China
Checkland Kindleysides and Gensler New York, USA
Fabricwood Singapore, Singapore
Civic, Culture & Transport Category:
5-7 St Helen’s Place with The Leathersellers’ Hall London, United Kingdom
Eric Parry Architects
Visual Narratives is a self-portrait series that confronts who I am, who I want to be, what I end up being in that particular moment, and how I’m effected by my surroundings. Though the photographs are based on my internal being, I will still have aspects of my culture implemented externally—one way I have been doing that is through the dresses and jewelry I wear. This reflects the vitality of self-discovery and identity. The series is an overall examination of myself with various documentations of emotions. The emotions can vary and sometimes more than one are present. That emotion can be humility, strength, growth, pain, love, anxiety, hate, despair and confidence. These can be present at once.
Aisha Jemila Daniels
I am from Miami, Florida. I am a visual artist with a focus on photography, particularly conceptual and surreal photography. I am an honors graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC where I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts. I am now enrolled in the Master of Fine Art in design program on fellowship at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. I began my training in photography in the summer of 2009 under Noelle Theard at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami. During my third year of university, I received the opportunity to study for a year at the American University of Sharjah, UAE.
Discover Europe’s best kept secret – mysteriously tucked away like a figment of a child’s imagination. Adrift in the whirling rhythmic North Atlantic Sea, a different world lingers. A place like no other on earth.
Experience the luxury of slowness
The speed of one’s thoughts slows. Stillness takes over the restlessness and hectic tempo of daily life. The clock slows down. Time moves less fast. There is more space between heartbeats. The soul ages at a lesser pace. The ease of existence is felt as an inestimable luxury. Silence descends upon man and land, and the days languish. Do you feel the easy pulse of an existence where delay and peace of mind are valued as a quality and as a welcome part of life?
An exploratory journey through the Scandinavian heritage
Small, turfed wooden houses lean against young, straight buildings of glass and steel, where the sun’s rays reflect angles and expressions that reveal the will and courage to tread new and different paths. The materials and styles of modernity in villages and towns at times make up a provocative and awkward, at other times a humorous, cautious and respectful interplay with the heritage of the past, which is continued through the resonance of the young generation.
Challenge the mountain, engage nature’s might
Steep mountains surround the villages and towns. They carry millennia on their backs. Cleft by black gorges, separated by deep valleys, lakes and brooks. By the violent force of the storms. They bear witness to the struggle for survival. The grand, untouched landscape lies unexplored before your feet. Nature unfolds in all its might and roughness in front of your eyes. Occupy those mountains. Challenge the heights. Meet nature.
Feel the fresh sea breeze
The meeting with the ocean evokes thought and wonder at the movement of the earth. Ebb and tide. Life’s cycle and brittleness. The encounter of sky and sea, the contact between man and nature. A stay on the billowing element. A nation of fishermen through centuries. Survival or loss. Dependence and surrender. Faith and hope. Fish, whale, seaweed, mussels and the creatures at the bottom of the sea live their secret life in the salt water. The fish is fresh, the sea breeze is refreshing, and breathing is unrestrained.
The town’s young pulse beats in the old street
The 200 year old Cathedral shares the streets of Tórshavn with modern, sparkling architectural gems, cafés, boutiques, churches, corrugated roofs, parks, cinemas, museums and little outhouses in an attractive jumble.
Go on a discovery in a town where faces are recognizable, where sailboats and fishing boats lie lolling in the harbor, where the evening is filled with laughter and adventure. Where the lighthouse at the old fortress throws its beam across the fjord, where the scent of sea and tar mix with newly ground coffee and happy voices.
The smallest capital in the world
The Løgting first met at Tinganes in Tórshavn around 850 and is therefore one of the oldest parliaments in the world. The Vikings had a tradition of placing their Thing (assembly) at a neutral and central place, and with its location in the middle of the islands, Tórshavn became the natural hub and venue in the Faroe Islands. The town with its present population of 20,000 is one of the smallest capitals in the world.
The Faroe Islands are a Scandinavian country situated between Norway, Iceland and Scotland.
How to get to the Faroe Islands: Throughout the year there are good connections to the Faroe Islands from neighboring countries both by plane and car-ferry.
For further information: www.visitfaroeislands.com
The annual art and music festival in the Black Rock Desert attracts 70,000 people seeking a utopian vision but it has not been without its controversies. We ask two Photographers to share some of their favourite images from the event and tell us what the festival means to them.
What Burning Man means to me
Everyone I’ve brought to Burning Man has come away saying “Burning Man changed my life.” Everyone!
Black Rock City pulls in nascent creatives, and then gives them the nourishment to bear fruit. They return from the dust and heat evangelists for a different, more creative way of living.
Why I love photographing @ Burning Man
Black Rock City implements a gifting economy. Like a Native American potlatch it allows people to come together and celebrate their artistry by sharing their vision and talents with others. As a photographer, I recycle gifts of creativity and give them back to others through my photographs.
About Ron Lussier
I’ve travelled a lot, and I’ve universally found that people everywhere are decent and friendly. Many are afraid to travel and try new things. With my writing and photographs at lenscraft.com, I want to show others the benefits of embracing unfamiliar experiences and getting to know unfamiliar cultures.
Ron Lussier (Lenscraft) www.lenscraft.com
What Burning Man means to me?
For me Burning Man is best represented by three of its ten principles; Radical Inclusion, Gifting, and Radical Self Expression. I find opportunity for deeper acceptance of self and others, deepening compassion and selflessness towards all humanity when these principles are practiced not only on the playa but in everyday life.
Why I love photographing Burning Man?
I love photographing Burning man because of the pure adventure of it. There is an infinite opportunity to be in a flow state and capture the radical beauty that results from radical self expression.
About Mario Covic:
I am a freelance photographer based in Southern California. I am inspired by people that follow their passion, practice presence and embody their physical being. My photographic focus is in Movement Arts and Portraitures.
THE 10 PRINCIPLES
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
Leaving No Trace
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.
Thom Kerr is known for his bold experimentation and vivid use of color. His work acts as a bridge between the realms of fashion and fine art.
In 2005 Thom Kerr graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in writing and directing in his native Australia. He initially freelanced as a stylist, set designer, and writer for numerous publications - collaborating with an eclectic set of photographers & directors whilst developing his own direction. In 2007 he decided to step behind the camera officially and developed a successful photographic career taking him around the globe. 2016 saw him return to his original roots, translating his stylistic imagery into eye-catching videos for artists including Iggy Azalea, Brooke Candy and Kimbra.
Garnering comparisons to some of the world’s most established directors and photographers, his folio has attracted an international audience, with advertising and magazine commissions worldwide. With experience working across all aspects of imagery he is often asked to consult with brands, personalities, and publications on the creative direction of each assignment.
Thom continues to break away from industry expectations by delivering visuals that are bold and forward thinking in their approach.
Custom decorative pillows pair perfectly with the natural landscape.
An assortment of blue and turquoise Custom pillows covered in Sunbrella fabric allows you to create elegant coordinating designs, adding a deeper level of sophistication with luxurious textures and colors. Coordinate your pillows to upholstered furniture, cushions, drapery, and other design elements in the room.
Sunbrella is founded on the belief that fabrics should be both beautiful and functional. We began in the 1960s with the challenge of creating an awning canvas with a substantially longer lifespan than cotton. Sunbrella has become widely adopted for shade structures, marine canvas and upholstery fabric for both outdoor and indoor applications.
Designing comfort into your bathroom.
My working definition of luxury is “unbridled comfort.” It is best used in places meant to be warm and welcoming like kitchens and living rooms. Places that are designed to share comfort with others. To design bathrooms with unbridled comfort in mind would bring luxury into your private space. On average you will spend 2-4% of your day in the bathroom. When designing, value your time here and place 2-4% of your home budget into this space. This mindset will result in a concentration of luxury per square foot found in few other places in your home.
Bring in what is good.
Discover warm floors, steam rooms and custom soaking tubs. Explore warm furniture, functional art and lighting. A bathroom is a very important room where you need to feel comfortable, free to be yourself in a protected space. By creating a warm climate in this space, your mind is free to be instead of worrying about basic needs. This space is about you. Create it to be warm and comforting. Cold is unpleasant; described as hostile, bleak, bitter, cutting, and sharp. This is your space, your haven. Have it treat you well.
Sounds, the forgotten comfort.
Noise is a constant and largely unavoidable force in our lives. Peace, quiet and the extremely rare silence are true, priceless luxuries. Do not barter these priceless luxuries away, unnecessarily encouraging common noises. All of your plumbing features can run silently or provide beneficial sounds like falling rain or waterfalls. Upgrading your furnishings with awareness of the sounds you accept and can expect from them will improve your bathroom experience. Evaluate the sounds in your bathroom; determine if the majority are positive or negative. Now design the shell of your bathroom. If your sounds are mostly positive, feel free to create an acoustic space with hard smooth surfaces. If you were unable to create a space with mostly positive sounds, create a soft envelope for your bathroom that reduces these unwanted sounds as much as possible. Do this by adding soft carpets on the warm floors and soft art pieces on your walls.
Put down roots. Get connected.
Large leafy or grassy plants dampen unwanted sound while adding other luxuries like extra oxygen and positive odors (sage, lavender or potted eucalyptus). Plants should be designed into areas in your bathroom where you can bring in glowing, natural light to play across their leaves casting shadows and glimmered reflections. Whether it’s night, day, sunny, or raining, connecting yourself to the outside world helps you stay oriented and connected to reality.
Keep out what is bad.
Chaos is another largely unavoidable force of nature. A luxurious bathroom is a sanctuary. Guard it. Keep your bathroom clean. Do not permit unwanted odors or clutter to steal peace and comfort here. Design plenty of discrete storage space into your bathroom. These spaces should be organized and convenient for your use, providing everything at your fingertips. When everything is closed and put away, your organized “stuff” isn’t causing visual distraction and clutter.
You are the most important part of bringing luxury into your bathroom. You must look yourself in the mirror and appreciate what you’ve given yourself. Don’t be ungrateful and pass over the rare qualities you developed in this new space. The value of this space is determined by you. How do you treat yourself here? Will you bask in your bathroom?
Igneous Bath should be considered when planning any bathroom. The minimalist bath designs will fit seamlessly into any space. Igneous Bath is a unique, heated concrete product that is beautiful, durable, timeless, ultra functional and highly customizable.
Staj Olson, Igneous Bath founder and craftsman, perfects the use of concrete with his proprietary material blend and process. Igneous Bath’s vessels are wrapped with the blanketing warmth of internal heated cables. The sculpted concrete is devotedly shaped and polished by hand, ultimately composing a transcendent bathing experience. This level of detail is achieved whether you order a stock design (Airah and Banskah) or a custom creation limited only by your imagination.
Picture an elegantly sculpted concrete form radiating warmth, maintaining heat, completing your perfect space, while you transcend . . . that is Igneous Bath.
Will you bask with us? Visit igneousbath.com for more information or to place your order.
An Unexpected Beginning
Jerry Helling, President and Creative Director of Bernhardt Design states, “For many years I have been fortunate to work with the most talented people regardless of their primary creative discipline, which has included: photography, fashion, graphics, set design and art. A mix of passion, commitment and a love for creating is more important to me than a design resume. These designers don’t come to the table with preconceived notions of ‘how it should be done or what isn’t possible.’ This fresh perspective often produces unique ideas and new concepts.
“Upon meeting Terry Crews, we discussed the importance of supporting emerging designers and considered how we might partner in the future to help young talent. The more we spoke, the more I was impressed by his knowledge and commitment to art and design. After researching his background, I was captivated by his keen eye for scale and proportion, and more importantly, his skills at painting and drawing. I went back to him a day later and said: ‘If we’re going to do a project together, you should channel your passion and be the designer, not merely a benefactor to someone else.’ He accepted and I would draw science fiction scenes, heroes, monsters and anything else that I could imagine. The problem was my ability never matched my imagination. I would take styrofoam pieces out of shipping boxes because of their interesting shapes and with glue, paint, and cardboard, I would create space ships! I really enjoyed feeling like I could make something out of nothing—and I still do.
“My first art award was Best of Show in an ice sculpture competition, when I created a lion out of snow. My drawings improved significantly with practice and from elementary school until high school graduation, my artwork was always featured in the school’s showcases.
“My desire was to go to the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, but football was another passion and sadly, they didn’t have a football team. Fortunately, I was awarded a summer scholarship from Chrysler to attend Interlochen Arts Camp and experienced a very competitive artistic situation for the first time. College was unaffordable, so my plan was to walk-on to a football team, earn a full-ride scholarship, and major in graphic design. Western Michigan University offered a $500 art excellence scholarship and they had a football team. I had found my collegiate home. My first job using my artistic skills in college was drawing courtroom sketches for WJRT-TV12 in Flint.
“Football and art were difficult to do simultaneously at a major university. The balancing act between the two soon required that my artistic dreams take a backseat to football. I ultimately earned a scholarship that would take care of my education and eventually led to the NFL.
“During my first NFL off-season, my passion for art reawakened. I sketched for enjoyment and loved doing logos for local rap groups and businesses. Throughout my NFL career, I found myself falling back on my artistic talent many times. I studied various illustrators, such as Drew Struzan and Norman Rockwell. I worked at a small design firm doing sketches, mock-ups, and painting animation backdrops. At the team hotels, I would set up my art table and continue to paint. My reputation grew around the NFL and I had no shortage of players contracting me to do portraits of their wives, kids, and themselves.
“When I retired from the NFL, I went to New York and presented my body of work to NFL Properties. I was seeking employment as an artist in their marketing department, but a position was not available. Subsequently, I moved to Los Angeles and attended animation classes at Associates in Art. I started to build a portfolio and submitted my work to Hanna Barbera, DreamWorks and of course, Disney. Disney loved my work and told me to continue to develop my portfolio, but alas, the days of hand drawn animation were over. I became an actor instead.
“I’ve always approached acting and drawing in the same way. The questions I ask myself are: ‘How can I make this feel real, how can I make the work tell a story and what would I like to see in this character?’ A good performance and design share the same principals. You live in ‘real.’ People see ‘real’ all the time. Acting is life with all the boring parts removed. You can say the same about great art and design.
“After years of acting, my family moved to Pasadena, home of the renowned ArtCenter College of Design. My plan was to take classes there, but my acting career had taken off and I was booked solid for years. I have always bought books and magazines on art and design, especially when on location. I am a self-proclaimed ‘font junkie’ and take pleasure using creative fonts on posters, signs, and magazines. During this time, I developed a friendship with a young ArtCenter student,
Ini Archibong. Ini and I would have long conversations about art and design. In a way I was living a industrial designer’s life vicariously through him.
“After Ini graduated, I decided to invest in this young man and give him the same support I desperately needed for my art – without having to make tackles and intercept footballs to do it. The project would consist of a light sculpture, a sofa, and two tables to complete the suite. The project was selected for exhibition at Salone Satellite at Salone del Mobile Milan. Fortunately, I was able to meet the artisan who made the sofa for the exhibition, Nolen Nui. We became good friends and he gave me a valuable insider’s view of the world of manufacturing furniture and lighting.
“Nolen Nui introduced me to Jerry Helling during ICFF. I knew of Jerry’s reputation in the design community and was thrilled to meet him, but my thrill turned to pleasant shock when he told me he saw and loved the exhibition in Milan. Shortly thereafter, Jerry asked me if I would be interested in working together. Initially, I thought he meant we would find another young designer to support, but I was completely surprised when he asked me to design a collection myself!
He knew I was an illustrator before I was a performer and recognized the intense love I have for the design community. I immediately told him yes. Now, one year, thousands of sketches, countless revisions and many sleepless nights later— my first collection is here, and a dream is fulfilled.”
Terry states, “When I began my collection, I was very aware of the significant influence of many modern contemporary designers like Corbusier, Saarinen, McCobb, Charles and Ray Eames, etc. My mind really started to expand when I began to explore fantasy elements of other cultures. Once again, I began asking questions: ‘What if Genghis Khan and Mongolian culture were still the dominant world empire?’ Greater still, ‘What if the empires of Ancient Egypt still ruled today?’
“As inspiration for the collection, I settled on ancient Egypt. I began envisioning what modern contemporary furniture would look like if Egypt was the dominant world power: ‘What would an evening in a luxurious, modern Egyptian palace look like?’ I thought about the Nile, the center and source of life at that time. Everyone wanted to be near the water and design would likely emulate properties which came from the Nile River.
“The Ibis sofa is my vision of a modern design that would reside comfortably in an ancient Egyptian palace. The outstretched wings of the Sacred Ibis are a consistent feature in the hieroglyphics and is a mainstay around the Nile River. The back of the sofa resembles the extended wings of this bird in flight. I also wanted those who sit in the sofa to have the subconscious sensation of feeling protected – like a bird protecting its young.
“The Float tables and Aire benches allude to the smooth rocks and pebbles along the shore of the Nile. I had visions of water flowing over these rocks and the soothing, ambient sound it would make. The table and bench shapes are irregular and organic, because I wanted them to appear as if they had been shaped over thousands of years.
“Lilypad represents exactly what its name suggests. The floating leaf of the water lily is culminated by a blooming lotus flower. The Egyptian sky god Horus was often depicted in ancient art sitting on the Egyptian Blue Water Lily. This image inspired the unique combination of an oval table, with a beautiful chair which appears to be a blossom rising above the table.
“The Lily Chair takes it cue from the sinuous form of the Lilypad. It features a continuous unbroken line that traces the exterior of the chair which encases a soft circular cushion much like the center of a blooming flower. The chair subtly converges from an open bloom at the top, to a perfect circle at the base.”
ABOUT TERRY CREWS
Action-movie hero, sitcom star, game show host, pitchman, former NFL player and best-selling author all describe the man that is Terry Crews.
Behind the brawn, bullets, and laughs is a renaissance man from Flint, Michigan, who, as
a teen, got his first big break after high school with an art scholarship at the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. This was followed by an Art Excellence scholarship and a full-ride athletic scholarship for football at Western Michigan University, where as a star defense end, he helped lead the Broncos to a
Mid-Atlantic Conference Championship in 1988.
Expanding on his extensive background as an artist, illustrator, and his love of craftsmanship, Terry established the design house AMEN & AMEN. The company seeks out and supports creatives in the world of art, music, fashion, decor and industrial design. Initially breaking ground with menswear fashion designer Nana Boateng, the label successfully expanded to interior lighting and furnishings in 2016 with the exhibition of Ini Archibong’s The Secret Garden collection at Salon De Mobile in Milan. In 2017 he designed his first collection of furniture for Bernhardt Design.
A true definition of success, Crews’ life off-screen is as exciting and dynamic as his public persona. Crews is the caring husband of 27 years to wife Rebecca and proud father of five. Crews dedicates his free time to keeping physically fit—both in mind and body while also working with The Polaris Project, a leading non-profit organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
ABOUT BERNHARDT DESIGN
Bernhardt Design was founded in 1980 by the 128-year-old Bernhardt Furniture Company and continues to be a leader and innovator in furniture design and production. During the past 15 years, President Jerry Helling has assembled an extraordinary creative team that has positioned Bernhardt Design as one of the leading international design companies with a roster of talent that includes: Ross Lovegrove (London), Arik Levy (Paris), Jaime Hayon (Barcelona), Yves Béhar (San Francisco), Patrick Jouin (Paris), Fabien Baron (New York), Monica Förster (Stockholm), CuldeSac (Valencia), Suzanne Trocmé (London), Noé Duchaufour-Law- rance (Paris), Jeffrey Bernett (New York), Charles Pollock (New York), and Claudia and Harry Washington (San Salvador).
In 2015, Amir Gehl launched the Difference Coffee Company, with the unique idea to bring the world’s finest coffee to those who truly appreciate quality. Coming from a long line of tobacco experts, Gehl has spent a lifetime developing an appreciation for the finer things, from cigars to wine, and now he is taking on the challenge of sharing the joys of speciality coffee with the world.
So, for those who don’t know, what exactly is “speciality coffee”?
Speciality coffee is – quite simply – the best coffee in the world. Made only from Arabica beans (rather than Robusta), it is very rare
– making up just 1% of the world’s coffee production. The term “speciality” is a grade awarded by expert coffee testers known as Quality (or Q) Graders. These experts test each batch of beans and score it according to a 100-point system. Only coffees rating 80 points or more can be labelled “speciality”. These are the only coffees we sell.
You claim to have entered the world of first-class coffee “by mistake” – how did this come about?
I have a sincere appreciation for high quality – from food and wine to fine cigars – and up until a few years ago I would have considered myself a non-coffee-lover, simply because the quality was often so poor. Too often, I would enjoy a wonderful dinner, only to be disappointed at the end of the meal by a mediocre cup of coffee. I started Difference Coffee after I discovered what amazing coffees there are out there which could be fantastic alternatives.
You come from a family of tobacco experts – what similarities are there between the world of luxury tobacco and that of speciality coffee?
There are lots! As with fine wine – or any other product which you grow – terroir has a lot to do with it (soil and climate and such), but there is more to it than that – you get both good and bad Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, for example. To grow truly excellent tobacco, grapes, or coffee – it all has to start with a great seed. Then, after this, the natural quality can be nurtured and encouraged with expert care and attention at every stage of production.
How is the speciality coffee industry affecting the coffee world as a whole?
To start, it is doing wonders for pickers’ wages! In commercial coffee production, pickers are paid by the kilo, leading to a foreseeable mix of good and bad coffee cherries. In speciality production, farmers wait and harvest in multiple pickings, paying their pickers by the hour, resulting in higher-quality coffee and better wages for everyone.
Many people interested in the luxury Food and Drink world will understand paying £2000 for a bottle of world-class wine – what is it about speciality coffee which leads to it fetching a similar price per kilo?
The high level of care and attention I mentioned has a lot to do with it. With non-speciality coffee, there are several steps of the process (picking the beans, sorting them, etc.) where quality control can fall by the wayside – this never happens with speciality coffee. There is also a great deal of expert quality analysis throughout the process. Once beans are dried, a selection is given to a “cupper” – a tasting expert – who will roast and grind them, before brewing and tasting. Only if the beans pass this test will the rest be sent off for roasting.
The most important factor when it comes to price, however, is rarity. As I mentioned before, speciality makes up just 1% of all the coffee in the world – but some is even rarer than that. I have recently bought an extremely precious Arabica coffee called “Bourbon Pointu”, which was one of the winners at the Best of Panama Competition. It is made at a fantastic estate called Hacienda La Esmeralda, and only 130lbs of it exist in the world.
And how important are competitions like the Best of Panama for sourcing your coffee?
Extremely! We are the proud owners of the best coffee from Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala and, for us, these international competitions are the way we find them. We buy from Best of Panama, the Hawaii Kona Cupping Competition and – perhaps the most famous of all – the Cup of Excellence. This competition was founded in the nineties by coffee experts Susie Spindler and George Howell. And today, out of our range of ten coffees, five are Cup of Excellence winners.
But these competitions are also about giving back. Spindler and Howell wanted their competition to stimulate speciality coffee production, so the winning beans are scored and auctioned off, often at 100 times the price farmers would get from commercial – or even Fair Trade – producers.
Darrin Daniel, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, has praised Difference for always going for the best of the best – how do you make sure that you do this?
Quite simply – we follow the Cup of Excellence’s example! We go from country to country, buying the finest we find in each. We work with licensed Q Grader, Jonny England, to make sure the beans we buy really are the best. A true coffee expert, Jonny is a certified judge for both the World Barista Championship and the World Brewers’ Cup, and as well as testing the quality of the beans we buy, he also perfects the roast for each, unlocking its full potential.
You decided to make these first-class coffees available as Nespresso pods – weren’t you anxious that such an easy system might compromise the perception of the coffee’s quality?
On the contrary! The choice to turn our coffee into Nespresso pods had three very
clear benefits for us: first, greater freshness. Post-roasting, coffee begins to lose its aroma almost immediately, and sealing it in capsules halts this process. Secondly, it guarantees an excellent cup of coffee. Most of us don’t really know how long you should brew coffee for, how fine to grind the beans, how hot the water should be etc. A Nespresso machine takes out all of the guesswork. Thirdly – and most importantly – speciality coffee is very rare and difficult to find, and using Nespresso enables anyone to try these coffees from the comfort of their own home.
Find more information about Difference Coffee: www.differencecoffee.com
While the Russian fashion community has attracted most of the international attention over the last few years, there are some spatial designers you should know that have achieved success and international recognition.
Russia’s rich history has been hugely influential on the shaping of the world’s architecture. Famous landmarks such as the Kremlin and Saint Basil’s Cathedral attract millions of tourists every year and are featured in many movies, books and magazines. There are also visible tributes to these great buildings in countless cities and towns around the world so most people are generally aware of the beautiful designs from Russia’s past.
On the other hand, it’s modern architecture and interior design scene seems to be hidden from the sight of the global design community. It is hard to define what style the new generations of Russian designers gravitate towards but they have definitely moved away from incredibly detailed Baroque palaces and churches to simpler, minimalistic solutions. Of course minimalism is a long-term global design trend that is dominant in many disciplines so it can make it trickier for us to identify what is authentically Russian. Another reason for the limited awareness of modern Russian design is that many successful professionals tend to leave Russia and chase their dreams abroad, which makes it difficult to get a full grasp on the local scene.
So who are these modern Russian designers that should definitely be on your radar?
Founded by product designers Misha Repin and Tanya Repina, Aotta studio focuses on furniture and product design that is created ‘without any harm to humans and nature’. This sustainable approach as well as the interpretation of their Russian background can be seen throughout all their works. By celebrating the country’s culture and taking inspiration from different aspects of life in Russia, these designers create unusual objects for everyday purposes.
Since Russia’s forests account for more than 20% of the planet’s forest estate, it is no surprise that the designers of Aotta focus on using its resources for their furniture. Having collected needles of coniferous trees, a component that is normally not used in production, the designers mixed them with bio-based biodegradable plastic in order to create a collection of coffee tables and seating.
Another interesting product designed by Misha Repin and Tanya Repina is a lamp lled with what is believed to be one of the symbols of Russia- Vodka. Liquid inside the lamp is hermetically sealed in a pendant ask and upon touch starts moving together with the LED module installed in the waterproof top, which creates a soft ambient light.
za bor architects
Moscow-based architectural studio za bor is known for an abundance of innovative methods used both in architecture and interior design, as well as a complex dynamic shapes, which has became their calling card. One of their most recognizable projects and a great example of how a modern design solution can fit within the city’s traditional architecture is Parasite office in Moscow, a three-storey work space suspended above a walkway between two established buildings and held by steel clamps, leaving enough space for pedestrians and cars to move underneath. Arseniy Borisenko and Peter Zaytsev of za bor transformed the wasted space by creating this additional office and bringing excitement to the area and it’s surroundings. One large window provides natural light to all three oors and becomes one of the key aspects of the structure. The interior of the Parasite is as quirky as its exterior, making it a great workspace for a creative design office. The white glazed facade walls of Parasite office are semi-translucent and made of light cellular polycarbonite, which makes the structure glow from within at night and transforms it into a local attraction.
Maxim Scherbakov, founder of creative studio Supaform, is a product designer who combines sculpture, architecture, painting and other disciplines with intelligent balance to produce his designs. By combining simple geometrical shapes made of different materials together, this designer creates complex forward-thinking structures that can be used as seating, storage space or simply as an abstract spatial concept, which he then turns into paintings. Some of Maxim Scherbakov’s creations are non-existent Supaform collections, where he experiments with form, light and materials in order to create colourful design solutions he shares on his social media.
One of the most recent and popular objects by Supaform is Yalta chair, which Scherbakov describes as “an ironic paraphrase for the luxurious resorts of the Soviet Union”. As going to Yalta’s sanatoriums used to be a dream holiday in Soviet times, the designer created simple and at the same time unexpected seating with a style reference to constructions along the Yalta coast and romantic brutalism by combining different materials, surfaces and colours.
In 2008 he was into graffiti and had just started switching his focus to street calligraphy. Today Pokras Lampas is one of the most followed and experienced calligraphy artists in the world. He is reshaping the world of this art form by collaborating with the most successful brands on different kinds of projects from milk packaging to installations and performances at fashion shows. Working across different disciplines, Pokras Lampas uses calligraphy and his self-developed style ‘Calligrafuturism’ to express his feelings about modern life and people. Although Pokras is considered to be an artist, he does not only work on at surfaces. He also transforms spaces with his site-specific calligraphy that brings new atmosphere and changes the experience of chosen spaces.
One of his biggest commissions this year was Fendi’s iconic Rome Headquarters, where Pokras Lampas used its 1,250 square mtr roof as a massive canvas for his calligraphy. Using 550 ltrs of bright yellow paint he covered the roof of Palazzo della Civilta Italiana with a poem heralding hope for the future of art and fashion. This project now marks the biggest calligraphy work in Italy. While this new Fendi campaign is definitely riling up many art historians, Pokras is already working on his new project in Dubai and making his fan base wonder how else he will push the boundaries of street culture, design and art in the near future.
Julia Salnikova is a London-based spatial designer, a 2017 graduate from Chelsea College of Arts, UAL. Having a multidisciplinary creative understanding and an experimental approach to her designs, she works across diverse scales and media. Her projects range from small-scale product design to pavilions and sets that take the viewers and visitors through radically different site-specific environments that make them experience the site in a new way.
With the mission to rekindle American craftsmanship, Raleigh, NC, natives Sarah and Victor Lytvinenko founded Raleigh Denim in 2007 in order to make the perfect pair of jeans.
This artisan denim brand redefines the tangible connection between product and process and aims to revive the rich textile industry that once called North Carolina home. Raleigh Denim strives to source most of its materials locally and works closely with Cone Mills in Greensboro, NC.
Every season, the Raleigh Denim “non- automated jeansmiths” handcraft limited runs on vintage sewing machines in their downtown Raleigh workshop. Each pair goes through a thorough inspection before being hand signed by Sarah and Victor. Leather patches adorn each pair with individually hand-stamped edition numbers. Raleigh’s classic aesthetic and tailored fit has become a staple of the modern American wardrobe.
OFFICINE GULLO - NEW PROJECT OCEAN BLUE
Blue; in the deep and bright shade of the Ocean, is the leading colour of a new project by Of cine Gullo implemented at a residence in Clearwater, Florida.
When we began to envisage the Of cine Gullo collection, we were sure that our creations would have features not typical in kitchens. As we drew our first designs and developed them at our workshop benches, we began talking about our equipment in unusual terms. As one would speak about automobiles, we spoke of ‘cooking machines’.
First, we dedicated a lot of care to the engine, creating a nely-tuned machine of exceptional precision. Its high-ef ciency burners satisfy the advanced requirements of a professional chef or gourmet home cook. Having accepted no comprises with our ‘cooking machine’, we then added equally advanced accessories: a powerful lava stone barbecue, a mirror-finish fry top,
a capacious steamer and professional pasta cooker.
Following the Florentine tradition so dear to us, bodywork of heavy steel is nished with fusions of hand-hammered burnished brass, burnished copper and heavy gauge silver plating. We had created what we had imagined: a kitchen designed for those who appreciate good food, enjoy the pleasure of living in a re ned space and who share our passion for well-made things. We had created the quintessential kitchen.
Having an eye for high quality design and art can provide an advantage at auctions but you also need to know the mechanics. We learn the best practices from one of the world’s leading auctioneers - David Rago.
(Part 1) – Live Bidding
While there are more ways than ever to bid in an auction, the process needn’t be confusing or intimidating. This article will serve as the rest of four installments on how to be an effective bidder. In addition to laying out the basics, I’m going to provide some insider information, things you’d only know if you spent a lot of time on the podium as the auctioneer. If you intend to bid at auction I promise these articles will prove useful. The main ways for people to participate in an auction are live and in person, by telephone, through the Internet, or leaving “left bids” by absentee ballot. There are benefits and deficits to each of these methodologies so, starting with bidding live, let’s take a closer look.
Bidding live in the auction room is the least convenient way to participate in a sale but probably the most rewarding for the effort. First and foremost, you get to look at and personally inspect the pieces on which you plan to bid (or, after seeing them up close, NOT bid). Auction catalogues, both in print and virtual, have never been better, with digital photography allowing individual print shots of every piece. This is no small thing because, back in the day of color separations for offset printing, many lots weren’t valuable enough to justify the expense. Yet now, on line catalogues make it possible to post multiple images of every lot. Even more, a print catalogue is a static thing, once it leaves the press it’s done. But a virtual catalogue can be modified for weeks, up until the moment a piece is sold. Still, in spite of these technological advancements, nothing is as good as seeing a piece in person, and for that you have to be in the room either before or during a sale. If you purchase “smalls”, things you can fit in your car, you also save shipping costs, so there’s that. You can also speak directly with the auction house experts to best determine the condition of your lots and maybe get from them a sense of how much interest has been expressed by potential competitors.
Attending an auction in progress allows you to understand the pace of the sale leading up to the lots in which you have interest. Is the auction soft, with limited bidding from all fronts, many passed, or unsold lots, frustration emanating from the auction staff? Or is the sale a barnburner, with things blowing past estimates, nearly all lots selling, and the air in the room crackling from all the competition? While this is no guarantee that same energy will exist during the brief time any of the lots you want are selling, this can often give you an indication of what you might expect when the things you want come to the auction block.
Who’s your competition during a live sale? While more and more bidders compete on line or over the phone, there is no better way to get a sense of where other interest is coming from, and how you might best respond in the moment. Each lot takes about 45 seconds to sell, and a great deal of information is conveyed during that brief window of opportunity. Like poker, you are “playing auction” with incomplete information, making the best decisions possible with the cards you can actually see. Nowhere is more information exposed than in the auction room.
You can tell a lot about a buyer by where they choose to sit, if they choose to sit at all. The most serious bidders are either directly in front of the auctioneer or standing in the back of the room. The former position ensures that your bid won’t be missed in the heat of battle, allowing for the clearest communication with the auctioneer. Also, because there is virtually nothing to distract someone sitting in the front row, you can focus entirely on the task at hand.
Conversely, the person standing in the back of the room may occasionally risk not getting the auctioneer’s attention, but they get an overview of the room, watching the entire crowd, the action from the phone tables, and the competition from the internet. Another advantage, to those so inclined, is the machismo effected by standing up, bidding with confidence, and staring down the cluster of dealers invariably huddled beyond the last row of chairs.
If you see a group of people (almost always a cluster of men) sitting together in the back of the room yet only one or maybe two of them bid, you’re probably looking at a “pool”. These are dealers who work the auction circuit and who have made an agreement not to bid against each other. Don’t be intimidated. If you are willing to pay up to a retail price you will almost always be a stronger bidder because the pool is looking to make a profit, buying at a wholesale level.
A few pointers:
Somehow, live bidders have come to think that not bidding until the last second will give them the upper hand in auction wars. For example, two or more people have been bidding on a lot for half a minute, the price going from $1500 to $3500, until it finally stalls. The auctioneer says, “Last call”, or “fair warning” and only then does a new bidder raise their paddle. The problem is that so many people employ this strategy that the only impact I’ve seen it have on an auction is to drag out the bidding for another half a minute (which, over the course of a 1,000 lot weekend, is a tremendous waste of time). Imagine tracking the bidding on a lot for forty seconds and then, at the last moment, two or five paddles raise at once, all thinking they’re going to nail the piece for one more increment. Instead of closing the bidding all this accomplishes is pushing a higher price.
Some bidders like to sit beyond the back of the room, sometimes behind a column or a piece of furniture. I guess this is one way to hide your intentions, but it’s also a perfect method of having the auctioneer miss your bid entirely. Privacy is one thing, but if the auctioneer can’t see you clearly, expect to have your bid missed at least occasionally.
Bid with your paddle, at least to start. It’s impossible for a civilian to visualize what the auctioneer sees while on the podium. But imagine a room with over 100 people in attendance, a splash of color and flesh, and a guy 2/3 of the way back waves his hand to bid.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t see that. It’s best to bid first with the paddle supplied by the auction house and then, once the auctioneer knows you’re in the mix, THEN you can blink or nod or whatever it is you choose to do. You MUST establish a connection with the auctioneer or risk losing out. Don’t take any crap from the auctioneer, and don’t let them bully you into going beyond your price limit. This happens more than you might think, and it’s best to remember at all times that YOU are the client and the auctioneer, and his or her staff, is working for you. You are paying their wages in the form of a Buyer’s Premium, just as the consignor is paying in the form of a commission. That said; make sure the auctioneer is your friend. You have so much to gain by maintaining a good relationship with the person who ultimately runs the auction. This is no small point, and I’ll describe how a good relationship will reward you in many ways. For now, when bidding, a smile always helps.
Read the terms of sale before you bid. If the auction is “as is-where is”, you have no recourse if you find your purchase has damage or is something other than what you thought (even if the auction house’s description is wrong!).
On the other hand, if you are bidding in a “guaranteed” sale, what exactly is the auction house guaranteeing? You have a responsibility to yourself to know this and, if you’re not clear about it, to ask someone at the auction with authority and find out.
Find out more about Rago Arts: www.ragoarts.com
Credits – RAGO Arts
KHURTOVA & BOURLANGES - the duo tracking a correlation between star constellations and French geography.
We meet Elena Khurtova and Marie Ilse Bourlanges – an artist duo on a mission to challenge ‘the regime of utility’. We find out if there is correlation between star constellations and French geography.
How did you meet and why did you decide to work together?
We met in 2003 at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, where we both studied Architectural design. We became friends quite soon and were discussing our projects for hours, often staying at each other’s place to work over night. During her graduation in 2007 Elena decided to deepen her skills and knowledge with ceramic, especially mold-making and casting. She first sought specialists advice at CorUnum, a prestigious ceramic manufacturer in the Netherlands, and later worked in partnership with Sint Joost academy in Den Bosch. After her graduation from Architectural design in 2006, Marie Ilse continued her study further in TXT (textile design) at the Rietveld Academy, and graduated in 2008. We obviously realized how much we share a particular fascination for processes and materials, and especially the conceptual value of techniques found in ceramic and textile realms. We started working together on isolated projects from 2009 onwards, and in 2011 we dived into a residency program at the EKWC (European Ceramic Work Centre) in Den Bosch. This period was a true turning point, enabling us to position ourselves as an artist duo.
What is the key to your successful partnership?
Above everything, we are friends :) We try to give each other enough space and exibility but always aspire to motivate each other further with work and new ideas. We also often collaborate with other artists or graphic designers, which enrich our partnership with other input.
You described your work as a challenge to the ‘regime of utility’?
It is a term a dear friend of ours came up with, Mark Leegsma. Through writing – Mark is both a master in philosophy and psychology – he helped us formulate what our fascination and direction was really about: trained both as designers we were clearly interested in investigating and reflecting on the impact of use/usage on the body, objects and elements of space. However we early on knew that we wanted to dissociate ourselves from a common understanding of ‘design = function’, as we didn’t find enough meaning in making more stuff to be used. At that time we were in a residency at EKWC researching on visualising patterns of cancerous growth through Internet data translating them into 3dimensional tessellation landscape, later casting them into pristine bone china clay. The resulting ‘E/merging patterns’ offer an experience of the body that begins where the usefulness of the healthy body ends, which for us was a key stone in defining a challenge to the ‘regime of utility’.
In THE SKY IS ON THE EARTH you investigate the theory of Marie’s grandfather - the author Jacques Bourlange about correlation between star constellations and French geography?
In 2013 Marie Ilse inherited the archive of her grandfather that waited in oblivion at her father’s workspace since 1991. It was like discovering a hidden treasure, the obsessive research of an estranged relative, who had spent many years investigating a correlation between star constellations and the French geography. We both decided to research and intervene with this unique material. The archive itself bare a specific analogue quality, with profusion of hand-made folders, hand-written notes, maps covered with geometric lines and gures, etc... Its content is even more fascinating as it unravels material and immaterial connections between elements, names and places. We started the project with a 6 months residency in Paris at Atelier Holsboer and continue developing it until now, thanks to the generous support of the Mondriaan Fonds and Stichting Stokroos.
For the project you researched 24 archive boxes of maps, notes and sketches covering toponymy, legends and symbols, geography, astronomy and astrology, as well as genealogy and heraldic study of French Noble families –how did you decide what to use?
When we first opened the archive (during our residency in Paris) it was a very overwhelming experience. We sought advice from different experts from the fields Jacques (Marie Ilse’ grandfather) had investigated: a toponymist, a mathematician, an archivist, an esoteric specialist as well as ’spiritual leader’ :) This research was archived in the form of recorded conversations as a base for the project. Later we developed a seven chapters plan, touching upon either the content of the archive, its formal quality and finally the man behind the theory. We are now at chapter four and processing the last three chapters. Our method has been shaped through the process, where we mix original elements of the archive and new sculptural interventions we create, creating dialogue with each other. In that way we intend to create bridges between Jacques’ research and our own interpretation of it, in a more direct visual and material way.
Based on your research is there a likely correlation between star constellations and French geography?
Ahah! This is still really hard to tell :) For the chapter “Looking for the Ursa Major” we went on a road trip on the path of Jacques’ claimed projection of the seven points of the Ursa Major on the French landscape, roughly between Marseille and Cannes. During the day we were ‘hunting’ for each of the specific earth point and at night for perfect view of the Ursa Major on those precise locations, before it would disappear behind the horizon, which was pretty fast. It resulted in a series of photographs we did in collaboration with Maarten Heijkamp, as well as other works we developed later with earth we collected on each location. Our conclusion was that: when one looks for connection, it is quite likely to be found :) Ending up at night photographing the clear sky in beautiful isolated landscapes is definitely a connecting experience, among each other as an artist’s team, to Jacques and his theory, and of course to the sky and the earth :)
You often work with graphic designers and other artists on publications, tell us more.
During her graduation in 2008, Marie Ilse collaborated on a publication with fellow graduate and dear friend Xavier Fernández Fuentes with her project entitled Decay. Xavier came up with a beautiful translation of Marie Ilse’s concept of Decay with a publication cover made of carbon paper, so that one holding the book would leave a trace on its inner cover. This project won the Rietveld design prize that year, and both were really excited about their collaboration, so they continued further with smaller projects. Since 2004 we have been collaborating with him on a publication plan for “The Sky is on the Earth”. Last year Xavier designed our publication entitled “Looking
for the Ursa Major”, with photographs made in collaboration with Maarten Heijkamp and beautiful earth prints by Mayra Sergio. It is fascinating to see how he managed to translate the tactility and materiality of our approach through a specific play of different paper and transparency. The publication won the jury prize of the Anamorphosis prize for self-published photo-books and is now part of the MoMA library. Sadly, Xavier passed away three months ago, and we just feel very empty to lose a friend and such a talented collaborator.
Your previous project KAMA SUTRA is an installation of elements that function as couples. What was the inspiration behind this?
For years we have been fascinated by connections (a topic that coincidently comes back in The Sky is on the Earth) and specifically Japanese joinery, the craftsmanship of making two pieces of wood t perfectly for various constructive purposes. One friend of ours once commented on the book we had on that topic as “its like Kama-sutra for wood” :) We thought it was a funny remark and developed a series of pieces that would ‘literally’ function as a couple, and the various power play that can occur in relationships. We treated the material and the shape according to the relation and impact they could have on each other, and the resulting installation bears both a poetical and playful approach to the notion of connections.
In MAINTENANCE OF INTIMATE SPACE you investigate Intimacy’s constant need for maintenance against exterior forces?
On an architectural scale, we are fascinated by the paradoxal notion of waste, value and maintenance embodied in ruins in contrast with destruction of cultural artefacts used as terrorist propaganda, at the time of that project the Malian mud mausoleum. Through theorical re ection with Mark Leegsma we put in parallel constant preservation of space with maintenance of intimate space as a psychological fondament. The resulting installation is a constructed 2m x 2mx 1,5m corner of 1000 un red clay bricks exposed to an indoor water spraying system. In the process the construction slowly disintegrate while creating owing rivers of yellow clay through the
exhibition space, until a loud collapse, resulting in an explosion of wet clay. Since then, we have used this clay and leftover bricks with many projects, and will continue doing so, to give many new lives to this destructive process.
What can we look forward to from Khurtova & Bourlanges in 2018?
At the moment we are nishing the last three chapters of The Sky is on the Earth. We are starting a publication with graphic designer and artist Cécile Tafanelli entitled ‘Sans Réponses’. It focuses on the notes and lists of Jacques combined with our own hand-made weaves. The publication will be an attempt to unravel the mind of the person behind the archive. We are also working further on ‘Casting the Archive’ a formal translation of the overwhelming physicality of such an analogue archive, creating porcelain and bone china replicas of the documents piles and boxes. In 2018 we aim at developing a large exhibition that will compile the entire project. The seven chapters will be presented in one space wandering in a linear and circular way, to create fluid connections between the different elements (earth, maps, rocks, textile, documents) in a similar way as we developed through the project.
For more information about Khurtova and Bourlanges:
Living in a wooden Egg for 12 months, writing with ink from Oak Gall and Quills from Geese, World War 2 Seaforts, Japanese Wabi Sabi, guarding a bridge between Hungary and Slovakia – this performance artist is on a mission to understand Time.
Your work is concerned with aspects of time and the relationship between transience and permanence. Tell us more.
Much as we like the idea of permanence and stability, in actuality we live in a transient changing world. In the flux running through geological, seasonal and human time, all things eventually pass and with their own particular metre. Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations (161 -180AD) wrote that ‘Time is like a river and its current is strong. No sooner does a thing appear than it is swept away and another comes in its place’. I’m interested in what echoes remain of the past, when indeed the past begins to be differentiated from the here and now.
You spend long periods in unusual and/or abandoned places, noting the changes in the complex relationship between people and their environment. Why is it important for your work to be rooted in research?
I often seek out places abandoned by people that offer space for solitary contemplation of our relationship to the natural world. There is a complex warp and weft of interconnection for the curious mind to consider. Research for me is rooted in the experience of being somewhere, about immersion in a particular place and I look from different perspectives. I like to live in an ethical relationship with nature and tread as lightly as possible upon the land. I want to give a voice to mute nature; to be amanuensis to the tides, the terns and turnstones.
In the Exbury Egg project you addressed the meaning of place at a time of great environmental change. Why did you decide on this project and why an egg and not a regular shaped house or other boat?
Originally commissioned to consider the possibilities of creating a temporary live-work space for an artist in the New Forest National Park, I was drawn to its fringes. The permeable edges where one place ends and another might start are dividing lines on maps, but are hard to draw on the land itself. The estuarine borders looked particularly promising and we travelled many miles by boat, before I alighted on the salt marsh of the Beaulieu River and immediately knew I needed to be there.
Climate change is already re-drawing these shorelines. The entire littoral environment
is virtually changing with every tide. The implications for wildlife and for the flora as well as for people here are challenging. They raise awareness of a particularly 21st century sort of tension and anxiety that we all need to address.
On first landing on the marsh at Beaulieu, I almost crushed the egg of a herring gull. That evening I had the eureka moment of seeing an egg shaped home as the symbol for nature’s fragility, as well as a universal symbol for the inter-connection of life; since everything living comes from the egg (or its evolutionary cousin the seed).
In the guise of The Beaulieu Beadle, you worked on, in, and around the Egg for twelve months – why was the Beaulieu Beadle guise important?
If the land can be seen dynamically as a series of events occurring in time, my life in the Egg was a performance in real life and actual time and place. I decided to characterize myself as the Beaulieu Beadle since I was floating on a river of that name. It means beautiful place and I saw the Beadle as a kind of custodian of it. Beadle itself has Indo-European roots meaning to make aware and also from the Latin ‘bedellus’ rooted in words for herald. Being the herald who makes people aware of a beautiful place seemed a good role for an artist.
And what did the Beadle do there?
As the self appointed guardian of a small personal parish the Beadle could share, for example, the rise and fall of the tide every twelve hours as an induction into the importance of natural cycles, a natural rhythm quite distinct from the nine to five we traditionally impose on the day. The Beadle loved this heartbeat of the river, which engendered a great feeling of wellbeing.He took pleasure in everyday activities from washing to walking. Cooking as much as collecting, for example, grew into daily rituals signifying the importance of the ordinary and commonplace as much the special and rare. Nothing at 50 ̇47’8.53”N x 1 ̇24’27.02”W was ever considered waste or wasted, nor taken for granted. The Beadle wanted to live in, and share, every moment. The sun was vital not just for keeping him warm and providing light to work with, but also as a creative medium. All his cyanotype photographs were printed onto the back of the recycled packaging he had saved up in the Egg. Cyanotypes are a Victorian method of producing photographs called blueprints and sometimes known as Sun Prints. It was satisfying to respect and borrow the natural power of the sun in this way.
What did you learn from that combined deployment of past and new technologies?
This sharing of his ‘being there’ was virtual and required the latest technology of solar powered Wi-Fi to enable the modern equivalent of a ship’s log, the online Blog (www.exburyegg.me). But equally, he loved discovering beauty in the potential of all that lived and grew around him, curious to explore true local colour in the traditional dyes and ink made from local oak galls, or to draw using quills made from the feathers left on the foreshore by visiting geese. If the online record was the fruit of a new kind of technological knowledge, the older wisdom was more grounding. Together they made for a balance, for the best of all worlds.
In the Seafort project you took up residence in WWII sea forts for a period of time corresponding to a WWII tour of duty. Why?
It was a project that took me to the physical horizon, six miles out to sea, where I thought I could consider the transience of human intervention in this marine environment. In 1944 the Seaforts were the latest in innovative design in concrete and steel, but how well had they resisted their daily dance with waves and damp saline air? What evidence might remain of their human occupation in their decay into ruin? What other life might have in turn thrived there after the people left? I thought of my time there as a sort of homage to the memory of the men who were there during the war years. Six weeks was their tour of duty and it seemed a good measure for my own.
You were part of the Third World Water Conference in Kyoto, Japan in the early 00’s, exhibiting at the Honen- in Temple and later at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Toyota. What were your thoughts on Japan?
I discovered a Japanese aesthetic and way of living based on Buddhism called Wabi Sabi that celebrates ordinary life, the incomplete and the unfinished. I like the notion that nothing is forever, nor perfect and where we learn to cherish imperfection and humility in a world of hubris. A Japanese Tea House I visited embodied these ideas. I had to bow down to enter through its low door, in some ways like entering my own Egg.
You were the guardian of the Maria Valeria Bridge between Esztergom (Hungary) and Štúrovo (Slovakia) from October 2011 – March 2012. Why did you choose that bridge and what did you discover?
The Bridge (or its organizing committee) really chose me. Since its reconstruction in 2001, the local communities have invited artists from around the world to guard the Bridge, recognizing that continual cultural exchange is the surest guarantee of freedom and enlightenment in a region that has been fought over for many centuries. I was there for six months with a particular interest in a tiny leaf-mining moth that is currently conquering the horse chestnut trees of Europe (Its advance guard crossed the bridge from Sturovo to Esztergom back in the 1990s) and forward echelons are now gaining a foothold in the north of England. It is named for Cameraria Ohridella
for Lake Ohrid in Macedonia where it was first identified in the 1970s.
You have found a way to make ‘green’ captivating. Why do you think your work connects so strongly with the public?
People are increasingly looking for alternatives and for ways of taking control of their lives. For many the idea of mindfulness, of self-under- standing and wellbeing is an attractive element of my creative practice.
What have you got coming up?
The Exbury Egg is currently on tour around England and I am looking to continue this internationally at the Venice Biennale of Art in 2019 (there is commonality in the theme of rising sea levels). I’d love to see it on Walden Pond in Massachusetts, where HD Thoreau built his own home to live close to nature. ‘Shall I not have intelligence with the earth. Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself’ he wrote. Whatever I do next, I hope it would embody some of his particular acuity.
The Egg is currently at Jerwood Gallery, in Hastings. http://www.jerwoodgallery.org/ whatson/soon
Find out more about Stephen and his projects by visiting: www.stephenturner.org.uk
MAYRA SERGIO - AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE BRAZILIAN BORN, NETHERLANDS BASED ARTIST HARNESSING SCENT FOR DIALOGUE.
Raised in Rio de Janeiro and now based in Amsterdam. Educated in Brazilian Cinema and then Dutch Design. The result of two cultures colliding is a new and unique approach to the creation process and material research.
Your work is both thought provoking and fascinating – how would you describe Mayra Sergio the Artist?
I would say I have a personal and poetic approach to themes.
There is clearly a great depth of thought behind your work – what is your mission?
I have interest in being able to create work that is a sensorial experience but also convey reflection. I love the research part of the process, gathering books about a certain theme, reading and writing. Then start experimenting with materials. It`s very important for me to keep on writing and testing at the same time. You start molding materials to fit an idea but then the materials start to mold the idea also, it`s a fascinating dialogue.
In Sensorial Shelter you deal with themes of ‘foreign’ and ‘finding a sense of belonging’ through coffee? Why did you choose that medium?
Those themes are very personal; I have chosen to live in a foreign country and that`s at the same time attractive and painful. It`s only when you move to an unfamiliar environment that you can realize what is familiar and what are the pieces that together make your identity. On my first year in the Netherlands, without noticing, I became the crazy coffee lady. Stocking Brazilian coffee, filling suitcases with it, asking friends to bring it to me when visiting. The funny thing is; it was not about Brazilian coffee being of higher quality, it was about re-experiencing that taste shared with friends and family through the years. It was about re-experiencing that warm feeling of belonging. I realized that I didn`t belong in this country but when I drank my cup of coffee my body felt at home. Even if only for a little while.
You recently exhibited with Gaggenau in London- high-end coffee appliances maker and the ‘coffee artist’ – a marketers dream! How was the experience for you?
When I first got the invitation I was very excited but not sure what to expect once it was a new way for me to present my work. But the Gaggenau team was very respectful of my vision and incredibly warm on the days I spent in London building up the work. So I`m very happy our paths crossed and I hope we can collaborate again in the future.
In Impossible Records you tackle our two-dimensional recording of experiences with a choice: save scent for the future or experience it now. What drew you to this subject?
I`ve always been fascinated by the relationship between smell and memory. Smell is such a powerful trigger! At the same time very hard to contain in a way that you have access to, like a photo album. Also the more you smell that scent that triggers on you a certain memory, the less powerful it gets.
What choice (experience now or save) do most spectators go for and why do you think they make that selection?
It`s funny coz in the exhibition space I only get to see the leftovers of the open prints. So I thought everybody was choosing to experience. But months later I came cross a few people that still have one of the prints vacuum sealed hanging on a wall of their house. I think that says a lot about someone’s character. But I must say I love this tension of “Am I ever opening this?” The question between preserving or experience is a bit everywhere, even how we relate to our own bodies, for example, we know that alcohol, cigarettes or fried food are bad for our heath but we still choose experience.
What is your Earth Prints project about?
Because of “Impossible Records” I was invited by the duo Khurtkova Bourlange to collaborate for their publication “Looking for The Ursa Mayor”, which is part of their project “The Sky is on Earth”. I applied the technique I develop to silkscreen with spices but this time using earth. They went on a trip following the stars of the Ursa Mayor constellation and collected earth from each location. This publication was nominated for the Anamorphosis Prize and is now part of the MoMA library
You studied cinema and worked as a set designer for 5 years in Brazil before studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam – how has that blend of experiences influenced your work?
When you work as a set designer you learn how to silently tell the story that is on the script. How does the house of a character add its complexity? How the shape of a room adds to a scene atmosphere? I still have interest in storytelling but no longer in the realistic way in which most films are made nowadays. I believe I quit set design so I could create my own narratives and choose the way to tell them. And by making sensorial work I can explore dimensions that are not possible on the cinema screen. But in cinema I learnt how to create in dialogue with other people and the practical side of things like coordinating a big crew and a build up for example.
You are from Rio de Janeiro and now based in Amsterdam - what qualities do both cities share?
This question makes me realize how much I`m busy observing their differences... Those are two opposite places: the architecture, streets, weather and people... Amsterdam is very stable, organized, well taken care of, safe. Rio is this explosion of extremes so astonishing beautiful and ugly. I think that in a way I need both.
What have you got coming up and where can our readers see you exhibiting in the coming months?
Sensorial Shelter will be in London until the 24th of August and I have another work called To Break Ground showing at Tijdlijk Museum in Amsterdam until January 2018.
Find out more about Mayra Sergio: www.mayrasergio.com
WHY I BROUGHT ART TO NAOSHIMA - A JAPANESE BILLIONAIRE DISCUSSES HIS 'ART ISLANDS' AND PROPOSES A NEW CAPITALISM.
From Tokyo to the Seto Inland Sea
I spent most of my younger years in Tokyo, but returned to Okayama, where our company headquarters are located when I turned 40 because of my father’s sudden demise. This is when I started visiting Naoshima on a regular basis to continue my father’s venture of building a campsite for children on the island.
During my involvement in the project, I had the opportunity to deepen my ties with the island’s residents. Pursuing further my interest for cruises around the islands of the Seto Inland Sea; I developed a renewed appreciation for the history, culture and daily lives of the island residents while taking in the exquisite beauty of the Seto Inland Sea.
Today, many of the islands in the Seto Inland Sea are scarcely populated and perceived as remote places. On the other hand, they have also shielded Japan’s traditional spirit, way of life and virgin landscapes from rampaging modernization. You can observe these aspects here in the atmosphere of traditional wooden houses, in people’s behaviour, and in the ties that still exist between neighbours. In a sense, the islands’ residents lead a self-sufficient lifestyle intimately connected with nature.
The islands of the Seto Inland Sea supported Japan’s modernization effort and the post-war period of high economic growth, but they were also forced to bear more than their fair share of the negative burden of industrialization, despite being designated as Japan’s first national park. Refineries emitting sulfur dioxide were built on Naoshima and Teshima, and industrial waste was unlawfully dumped on the latter. These actions took a heavy toll on the local residents and on their natural environment. Oshima was furthermore cut off from society for many years after being designated as a treatment centre for sheltering leprosy patients.
Use What Exists to Create What Is to Be
Becoming deeply involved with the islands in the Seto Inland Sea, I found that my perspective on daily life and society developed while in Tokyo had taken a 180 degrees turn. I started to see “modernization” and “urbanization” as one and the same. Large cities like Tokyo felt somewhat like monstrous places where people are cut off from nature and feverishly pursue only their own desires. Urban society offers endless stimulation and excitement, tension and pleasure, while engulfing people in a whirlwind of competition. Today, cities are far from spiritually fulfilling places, instead urban dwellers show no interest for others around them. From a very young age, children are brain-washed and are thrown into an economy-driven competitive society, with no space to interact with nature.
Nobody would think of such circumstances as forming the basis of a good society. However, it takes tremendous courage to escape from life in the big city, which can seem like a bottomless pit. Even today, many young people from rural areas are drawn to cities by their irresistible pull. In the Seto Inland Sea region, young people have continuously set out for the cities, leaving only seniors behind on many islands. This has led to a continuing decline in the population of the islands. Considering the current state of large cities and the daily lives of people in the Seto Inland Sea region, I started having strong doubts about the premises of Japan’s modernization, namely that civilization advances through a process of creative destruction. Such a civilization expands by continuously creating new things at the expense of what already exists. I believe that we must switch to a civilization that achieves sustainable growth by “using what exists to create what is to be”. Unless we do so, we will be unable to refine and hand our culture down to future generations, and whatever we build will eventually be destroyed by our offsprings.
People Find Happiness in Good Communities
Considering the contradictions revealed by the problems faced by large cities in modern society and the current state of the islands of the Seto Inland Sea region, I became firmly convinced that the region could be transformed by establishing attractive contemporary art museums bearing a critical message towards modern society on the very islands where Japan’s primeval landscape still survives. I acted based on my convictions.
I found that young people started to visit Naoshima in large numbers to see contemporary art. During their visits, they sometimes noticed that rural areas have qualities that cities do not. I was astonished and delighted to see that local residents, especially the elderly, became increasingly vibrant and healthy as they interact with visitors. I also started to reflect on why people living in the cities are not truly happy at heart.
In cities, people work hard to obtain greater happiness than others in the name of “self-ac-tualization”. However, they cannot become truly happy with this approach. The reason is that human beings, by their very nature, cannot attain true happiness unless they live in a happy community. People living in cities are constantly frustrated and anxious because they are chasing only their own personal happiness and competing for this purpose.
According to a theory proposed by Abraham Maslow, a famous U.S. psychologist, human needs can be categorized into a hierarchy of five different levels, with the need for self-actual-ization at the top. Modernization in the U.S. was directed at creating a society that maximizes individual happiness, with an emphasis on the concept of “self-actualization”, a brand of financial capitalism where “Cash is King”, and the principle of “free competition”. Ultimately, this modernization produced a society marred by inequality. Some people now suggest that what Maslow really meant was that there are actually six levels of human needs, not five, with “creating a good community” at the top. However, Maslow had no choice but to remove the highest level because it evoked communism. This reflects the prevalence of McCarthyism, also known as the“ Red Scare” in the U.S. during the 1950s when Maslow was active. Where then can we find a happy community? Today, many people around the world believe that such a utopia does not exist in this life, but in heaven or paradise after they die. Can this, in fact, really be true? We do not know. After all, nobody has ever returned from afterlife to tell us that heaven is indeed wonderful.
Naoshima: an Island of Smiling Seniors
I have seen the seniors of Naoshima become increasingly vibrant and healthy by developing an appreciation for contemporary art and interacting with young people visiting their island. As a result, I now define a happy community as one that is filled with smiling seniors, who are masters of life. No matter what kind of life they may have led, seniors are masters of life. They should become happier as they grow older.
If these masters of life are cheerful, even if their physical strength and memory may be slightly weakened, it means that young people can hope for their own futures to be bright, despite the existential anxieties they may have. This is similar to the phenomenon of mother-child interaction, where a baby smiles when her mother smiles. The smiles of seniors also make younger people smile.
For these reasons, I believe that Naoshima is today the happiest community on earth. The island is now visited by numerous people both from Japan and abroad. I would like visitors to the islands to meet the local residents. I would like to expand this experience of a utopian community in the here and now to other islands in the Setouchi region. Of course, I do not want to create communities that are just replicas of Naoshima, but to build communities that make the most of each island’s unique culture and individual features together with the island residents and volunteers. I know of no medium better suited to this purpose than contemporary art. I believe that contemporary art has the power to awaken people and transform regions. In this view, and with the cooperation of Mr.Fram Kitagawa, the director of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, which I also support, we have launched the Setouchi Triennale.
Proposing a New Perspective on Civilization From the Seto Inland Sea
I have strongly criticized today’s large cities by stating that: “modernization and urbanization are one and the same”. However, I have no intention of completely disavowing modernization and urbanization. It is true that cities give people a feeling of freedom and are attractive spaces in their own right. I have high hopes that Japan will develop more cities that respect each region’s unique history and culture, rather than simply imitating Tokyo.
I want to connect these sorts of cities with unique, nature-rich islands through the medium of contemporary art, which bears a message for modern society. In doing so, it is my wish to foster mutual interaction between urban and rural areas, the elderly and the young, men and women, and residents and visitors. By discovering each other’s qualities, I believe that both sides can develop a sound mutual understanding and acceptance.
I believe that this process will have a positive impact on people living in cities, and will help reviving regions with declining populations. I hope that this will help to shape a society with well-balanced values that can make the most of the diverse, rich cultural tapestry of regional areas. I would like to propose a new perspective on civilization for the 21st century — one of “using what exists to create what is to be” — from the Seto Inland Sea to the rest of the world.
Public Interest Capitalism
I am neither a philanthropist nor a critic. I am a regional entrepreneur. I know that corporations are the main engines behind the creation of almost all wealth in society. However, the ambitions of Benesse Holdings, Inc. are diametrically opposed to the financial capitalism that has taken the global economy to the brink of collapse in the past. What this means is that money is not the sole purpose of economic activity. I often express this notion by saying: “The economy should be a servant to culture.” People cannot attain spiritual fulfllment through economic activity alone.
I believe that if economic prosperity is made the only objective, then people will ultimately become unhappy. I believe that the economy exists to create good communities where people can find happiness ̶ a society filled with smiling, happy seniors. To make this goal a reality, I am proposing a new management concept called public interest capitalism. Under this concept, corporations will establish foundations with the clear goal of promoting culture and regional community development. These foundations will be made major shareholders of the corporations. Funded by dividends stemming from their shareholding of the corporations, the foundations will in turn provide a systematic contribution to society. I would like to communicate this approach, the implementation and results of public interest capitalism to the world. To articulate a new partnership between culture and corporations and to promote this new approach to the world, one that highlights community revitalization and the creation of a utopia here and now through the medium of art, hand-in-hand with public interest capitalism. This is one of the significances of the Setouchi Triennale.
Okayama native, graduated from Waseda University, Faculty of Science and Engineering. Joined Fukutake Publishing (now Benesse Holdings) in 1973, appointed Representative Director in 1986, Chairman and CEO in 2007. Serves as Executive Adviser to the company since 2014. Has spearheaded the Inland Sea renaissance around Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima focused on art, architecture and nature for more than 25 years through Benesse Art Site Naoshima projects. In 2004, established
the Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum Foundation (now Fukutake Foundation), opened the Chichu Art Museum on Naoshima and was named honorary citizen of Naoshima. General Producer of the Setouchi Triennale.Distinguished with many awards, including the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts (2008), AIJ Appreciation Prize (2010), JIA Grand Prix (2011), and Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award (2012).
About Benesse Art Site Naoshima
“Benesse Art Site Naoshima”is the collective name for all art-related activities conducted by Benesse Holdings, Inc. and Fukutake Foundation on the islands of Naoshima and Teshima in Kagawa Prefecture and on Inujima Island in Okayama Prefecture. Our fundamental aim is to create significant spaces by bringing contemporary art and architecture in resonance with the pristine nature of the Seto Inland Sea, a landscape with a rich cultural and historical fabric. Through contacts with art and nature, sceneries and inhabitants of the Seto Inland Sea region, we seek to inspire visitors to reflect on the meaning of Benesse’s motto – Well-Being. In all our on-going activities, we are committed to foster a relationship of mutual growth between art and the region, aiming to make a positive contribution to the local communities.
Fid out more about Naoshima: www.benesse-artsite.jp
STEFAN CAMMERAAT - the dutch artist discusses his work including 50 year time capsules and a Manual for aliens.
Time Capsules to be opened in exactly 49 years, 7 months, 1 week, 4 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 47 seconds from the time he did this interview. Meet the artist whose work has been described as having a prophetic quality.
When, why and how did Stefan Cammeraat become an artist?
I started studying Fine Arts at the HKU in Utrecht in 2011. The decision to do so might’ve been a bit on the fly (I was 18 when I enrolled), but I figured it was what I enjoy spending my time with the most. It felt natural, and it still does.
You have been described as: using historical sources for your work, especially of the kind that has been attributed with a prophetic character. What does that mean?
I generally look at works stemming from early Modernism. Most of those works have a vision of the future, or at least some kind of ideological basis. In my work I try out the proposals of those modernist pieces by researching them thoroughly, acting as if they were never made and recreating them as if they were made now (comparable to the Borges story about the Don Quixote). Through this methodology my works reflect on the way in which we view history as a static source. Instead I approach it as a material, which is to be actively used, twisted and expanded upon to remain relevant.
You created Gallery Semi Colon: an online platform for the arts with some impressive differences – why?
I was looking for a way to deal with ideas I had which were impossible to produce in real life. At this point I turned to the possibilities of a digital space, where basically everything is possible (for example blowing up a show at the MOMA in 1934 and displaying the ruins as a work itself). It struck me that there weren’t many digital platforms for art, which fully embraced those qualities. For Semi-colon I mainly invite artists who aren’t too familiar with digital work, so for example sculptors or painters, and I challenge them to produce something, which would be impossible to present in any other way than in digital space. It’s all very experimental because of this, and I hope each show brings something unique, not just to the gallery, but also to the practice of the artists themselves.
In the project ‘50 years’ you invite guests to create works for time capsules that will not be opened until 50 years into the future?
I’ve had a long-standing interest in time capsules for multiple reasons. Firstly because it’s an absurdly difficult endeavor to present our time to a future generation, secondly because anything of significance we might put into them is at the same time lost for the generations between the burial and the target date. Oddly, while digital reproduction gives us many outs to the second problem, most time capsules were made in the 20th century. For ‘50 years’ I asked an archivist, an archaeologist, an artist and a sociologist to produce something specifically for the future. Each of them approached the commission from their area of expertise and their own personal background. Naturally until 2067 the pieces they provided won’t be displayed, or revealed in any way, while the closed capsules act as a monument for future thinking.
How long exactly at the time of answering this question is left before the capsules are opened and what do you hope the impact will be?
The capsules will be opened in exactly 49 years, 7 months, 1 week, 4 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 47 seconds from now (17:50:13, August 13th, 2017). With the project being split into two over the span of 5 decades, the closed capsules employ the natural curiosity of the audience to initiate a conversation about the future, while in 2067 the piece works as a historical document for future generations.
In Futurists without prospects you combined a series of shows with a publication (Crash) to tell the story of how a car accident in 1907 “served as a mythical big bang for all of Modernism”?
In my opinion this car crash was one of the first truly modernist works, which was of course amplifed in Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto. The image of a car crash is a massive metaphor for both the industrial revolution and the ever-increasing speed of daily life. Crash takes the perspective of a car mechanic who happened to be in the passenger seat when the incident occurred, and approaches the history of Italian Futurism through a car maintenance manual specifically for Marinetti’s FIAT. I aimed to provide a history of Futurism which is much more fitting to an art movement which above all wanted “... to destroy four centuries of Italian tradition” than a purely historical display or document.
In a guide to making sense of a senseless world you create a manual that helps aliens come to grasp with basic concepts of human living?
Kazimir Malevich stated that rather than representing existing situations, painting should strive to create new realities. Creating even one new reality felt like too big of a burden to me, so I flipped his statement upside down, and figured I’d represent existing situations to show to beings from a reality much different from our own. This small publication dissects everyday life into very simple two-dimensional drawings, and by this process of abstraction creates images reminiscent of Suprematist works, as well as a way to ‘understand’ Suprematist artworks in a completely wrong way.
What have you got in the pipeline that we can look forward to?
The 28th of September I open a show at the SBK in Amsterdam with my friends Koen Kloosterhuis and Bruno Slagboom, where each of us will present new works fresh out of the studio. Much later, from the 7th till the 11th of February 2018 I will be showing at Art Rotterdam as part of the Prospects and Concepts show.
Find out more about Stefan Cammeraat: www.stefancammeraat.nl
Fanny Rice’s art is inspired and informed by her travels around the globe. Her work, with its fluid and textured movement, is the abstract imprint of the colorful landscapes she has experienced.
Her signature style is immediately recognizable through textures, reliefs created by the layers and glossy nishes that add three-dimension- ality and richness to her work. Acrylic and resin generate a palpable sense of fluidity in her artwork - making her creations both intriguing and mysterious.
Fanny’s approach and her interests are constantly evolving. Currently, she is focusing on themes of purity and calmness and their interplay with the powerful chaos of nature.
FAINA COLLECTION BY VICTORIA YAKUSHA
Clay, felt, wool, wood - the key elements of the artisan ethno-style furniture collection FAINA (“faina” means “beauty/ nesse”) by Ukrainian designer Victoria Yakusha, CEO of the studio Yakusha Design (Ukraine, Kyiv). Ceramics, which is one of the oldest building materials in human history, plays the dominant role in her design conception. FAINA is also very honest and eco-friendly.
“Through FAINA I wanted to show the full strength and depth of the Ukrainian ethnos in a modern interpretation, - noted Victoria Yakusha. - This is just the beginning of our search: a search of our own “face” and place of Ukrainian design in the modern design world. Globalism, individualism and minimalism are the main trends of our present and our future, but in the pursuit of fashion and trends we must not forget of our roots”.
FAINA Collection includes 18 positions: sofa Polonina, armchair Lono, bed Factura, cabinet Pechyvo, table Shchedryy, chair Hilka, floor lamp Pivnich, coffee table Hryb, wash-basin Vulyk, carpet Nich, ets.
From Ecuador to NYC with an un-ending devotion to Animals. Meet the man who is determined to make us take notice of their plight through his paintings.
You have drawn since childhood with a particular passion for animals – how does it feel to achieve such success with your natural talents?
It’s been very gratifying. I grew up drawing but since I’ve studied formally from my bachelors and masters programs it’s wonderful to have been able to achieve what I am doing right now. I’ve worked hard to develop my skill which helps me to project my love for animals and share it with others.
You have described your passion for animals as an obsession – what is it about animals particularly?
My fascination and love for animals has found itself into my paintings, not only because of researching them and seeing how they are but also because of this critical time in history that we have decimated their habitats and populations to enormous extents. Old master paintings were believed to immortalize an image, so in the same tradition I feel by painting these beautiful creatures I can bring awareness to and honor their presence and spirit.
You give your animals humanoid qualities that challenge the viewers to see the world from the animal’s standpoint – tell us more about this:
I want the viewer to be able to connect with the animal. I want them to understand how it is to lose your environment and your home, how it feels to be hunted and tortured, and to make the viewer understand that animals are conscious like humans.
Your themes include: “topics that concern issues of evolutionary change, environmental toxicity, and war.” How powerful is art as a force for real positive change?
I believe art can resonate on a subconscious level. In that sense, I think art has the power to make small changes in consciousness that could slowly lead to larger insights. Someone that follows what I do might just be attracted to my animals at rst, but by following my work I think that my messages might eventually get through to people.
You were born and raised in Quito, Ecuador but moved to New York as a young adult – how do both cultures compare?
In Ecuador, I feel the family bonds are much closer as opposed to New York where you have much more independent people and a lot of professionals. I was also surprised to find how fast-paced New York City is. In Ecuador, the rhythm of life is languid: most of the time people are very late to any occasion. There are so many different types of individuals in New York City versus Ecuador where there aren’t that many people from other cultures.
What are your thoughts about the Ecuadorian creative scene?
To be honest, I don’t know that much since I haven’t been there recently, but, from what I know, it looks like it’s improving. It seems like more galleries are opening and more artists are showing internationally.
You studied at The School of Visual Arts and hold a Masters Degree in fine art from the New York Academy – how did your studies evolve your skill set?
I think my studying in those programs helped me develop my technique extensively in drawing - especially figure drawing. I believe figure drawing was one of the most extensive skills that have really helped me to develop a language of the body, even as it relates to animals.
You exhibit regularly in New York, LA and other US cities – what countries would you like to bring your work to and why?
I would love to be able to bring my work to maybe some places like China or Japan. I think they have a growing art market but from what I understand there is also quite a traffic of exotic animals in those countries. Maybe by exhibiting there, I could bring more awareness about this problem.
What can we all do to help animals?
Loving them, respecting them and their homes, not killing them for sport and understanding that they are fellow spirits with feelings.
How can our international readers purchase your art?
The easiest way is to send a message through my website or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Jean Pierre Arboleda: www.jparboleda.com
Uncomfortable truths? With typical “French” bluntness Delphine tells us about: NYC bringing out the best in her and why France could not, the power of Vision and harnessing the courage of individual women into an empowered collective force.
You are French and Senegalese; born and raised in Paris and now living in New York – what do you think about NYC?
I spent 29 years of my life in Europe so I am relatively a baby in regards to time spent in New York but it is very much home for me. NYC culture helps me a great deal; I find that people here have a deeper respect for all types of work and artists from different places. There are so many people from so many different backgrounds that it helps each group to understand the other. This is powerful for the city because humans can release sadness and heal scars by understanding each other – I learn from you and vice versa. In this way NYC is a window into the future. Women in New York are strong and very vocal – just like me so I feel at home.
Did you not feel at home in France?
France was challenging in many ways and I can’t say that I ever truly felt French. As an African descendant one has to face many hard realities and limited opportunities both economic and social.
Is that particularly French?
Discrimination and Identity are two different things, Americans from all backgrounds feel American. In the USA immigrants can become Americans in 2 generations, in France that’s not possible. My mother is a French white woman, she is French but how can I be? I remember spending time at the beach when I was a child and being regularly called “black cow” . . . that was a normal expression! That’s a similar story for a lot of ‘foreign’ and mixed people. Imagine all the pain caused by exclusion that can’t be expressed. France doesn’t accept us as 100% French. That’s a problem that my art has helped me to deal with: a struggle to find identity and belonging, 10 to 15 years of struggling to understand who I am.
Why is integration particularly poor in France?
On a cultural level France refuses to see another side of the coin, it refuses to learn from other cultures; this is seen in language, movies, fashion etc. Minority comedians make it to the mainstream but not many others do because of a narrow window and a general lack of consciousness. At the Cannes lm festival, which claims to be the guardian of good cinema, the tiny numbers of movies with minority characters that are screened usually employ the same lazy stereotypes and ultimately fail to connect with us because of unbelievably poor representation. I spent my childhood visiting the Louvre with my mum, trained to understand art the French way, taught to believe it is the most beautiful city in the world and nothing equally valuable could possibly come from the other part of me. The books we read, as children contained nothing about our backgrounds in them - when you nd out that your history has been erased from study books you feel as if you have been screwed. The default French position is to reject it if it comes from abroad and it has gotten pretty good at ignoring the rest of the world.
Why did you choose photography as your vehicle for expression?
My background is visual art – it’s what I studied at the Académie Charpentier School of Visual Art in Paris. What I discovered for myself is that Vision is a Trick and most people use it to create the wrong meaning. That’s what happens in a lot of fashion photography and movies; vision is used by the media to diffuse the truth. I wanted to tell a deeper and more meaningful story; instead of being a writer I chose to be a visioner because its time for someone to use vision to make a new vision. I chose it because I didn’t have a choice; I felt that there are not enough visioners. Out there it’s an industry of separate industries: political and social art, portraiture and documentary, for me they are all linked. I don’t take photos, in fact I see myself as giving photos.
How would you describe your work?
I would say that with every click I set out to create a world. I do it in black and white for people to understand the depth of the form. It’s a science of vision – anthropology, mythology, religion, the sciences and martial arts, a science of the amazing wisdom I discover from men and women, music, all combining to transform into vision. There are not many photographers that do that, I want to make sure that people understand my work comes from study. Every year it gets stronger, I study different rituals and mythologies from Asian to Native American to Burmese and everything I can get my hands on in between. I spend most of my time studying and not necessarily shooting because study is what makes my work evolve. I always gure out the money part, people ask if I get paid but the meaning of life is not the money – I do it for the passion and truth and I get contacted for work by great clients because my work comes from a new narrative and re ection of the world and somewhere inside we all want to contribute to a better tomorrow.
How do you approach your portraiture work?
I like to see my role as a receiver and revealer of each person’s unique gift. I discovered the tricks of master photographers - I learned how to make things beautiful. It also revealed the stupidity of transporting reality when it is incomparably beautiful– it’s a foolish trick because after 5 to 6 years you end up with no real story. Photography is a ritual. When I meet someone I am going to shoot I can talk to them for hours and it takes literally just 5 minutes to capture the image. The time spent talking to them is to get to understand them. The relationship and love creates a vision – falling in love with my subject is what I aim for every time.
You were mentored by the acclaimed photographer, Peter Beard (renowned for his images of Africa). What similarities do you share and differences?
We share a passion for understanding the world around us although he was more focused on wildlife. He had met an amazing woman who mentored him and introduced him to Africa and he in turn mentored me. His path was to detail the transcendence of beauty and sexuality into nature, that was his understanding and I was not really in agreement so we had many strong debates about it. He liked to hear my story and I had to tell him that my perspective of Africa was very different. Although we disagreed he was very good at understanding. He was one of the reasons why I had to nd a way to show beauty in a different way and that ended up becoming my addiction. I can see beauty in women everywhere and its not in the body, its in the eyes! In every eye, if you put them in portraiture all eyes are the same. Through the eyes you can see the similarities. We have been conditioned to divide but we can build a better world through the eyes regardless of background, age, time and gender. I guess you could say vision can end our division.
You spent time in Saint-Louis in Senegal and formed the studio ‘Magic’ (a tribute to Malian Photographer Malick Sidibé) where you photographed members of your family in praise of the simple life. Tell us more . . .
I started to document Africa as a rebellion against the typical way of showing Africa. I
was upset with my mentor Peter and I was determined to show a truer Africa. I didn’t
see the classic pictures of my people! Most of the images that have been done about the continent t commercial requirements but I was liberated from those constraints because 90% of my work is not commercial. I was more interested in creating a world and I was already convinced that you couldn’t create a true world from a commercial starting point. The guardians of Art limit knowledge of complex and wonderful cultures by reducing what we are given to fast food art, this explains why art from the Caribbean or Africa has to be colorful and clumsy; they condense the art to a very narrow idea. I have recently started to have a different mission to open the understanding by talking at universities about this.
Why do you refuse to sell your work through galleries?
The fact is that galleries don’t need our message or us; they just need the money we can generate so they enslave us. It’s the society that needs artists; we do art for a reason. If you don’t do it for a reason then you shouldn’t be an artist. We are here to elevate people because at the moment everyone understands pretty but not beautiful. A lot of photography out there lacks depth; we have never seen so much art but does it change anything? They do it for the wrong reasons, where will we go? Galleries are nothing but supermarkets of art but the other side is something that has real value to everyone. I am doing art because I have a message so I invest a lot of time to create vision. Vision in my work is un-negotiable because I have to leave a legacy. Vision comes to me not by a bolt of lightning but from study, continuous study. I feel like a kid because I always want to learn more and make my work understandable through different cultures and languages.
You have recently been involved with the Native American protest movement?
Yes! I was humbled to add my voice to their protest movement. Back in 2010 I joined them from New York to Montana and I feel very strongly for their cause. We all need to listen to them to understand their battle and certainly need to support them. They are not recognized as members of society, they are invisible and pushed away from society but yet they suffer with dignity. I was honoured to offer my skills to this movement: Portraiture is a map of the new world. Imagine a world where everyone accepts every type of archetype – Indian, African, and Native-American etc.
How do you see change happening?
Expanding the consciousness is important: vested interests have money at stake so it
wont be easy. Expanding the future: the new generation won’t buy into the ridiculous vision of division. Technology: my generation is the last one born into a world without mobile phones; we were slow at understanding the world. In 10 years I have gathered 2000 contacts in my phone, imagine a kid born today? The new generation is changing the world faster than ever before but the old generations are insisting on holding them back and the news wants to scare them into division. Trump has helped
to bring the racists and hypocrites out of the shadows – in a way America and the world had to witness the worst US president.
Do you face pressure to not talk about the things you talk about?
I don’t face pressure because I am independent and not commercial focused but I do get suggestions as to subjects I should be shooting more of. I am elevating the conversation and raising the bar for Queen-ness and Motherhood. I am not just showing desperate refugees but also those who are happy and fulfilled where they are. Why does the image of a hungry child in a refugee camp not make them uncomfortable but my work does? I have been able to live and work with amazing people who don’t want the bullshi*t: its okay for me to just be honest.
Do you worry about being labeled discriminatory?
There are two conversations – race and discrimination. My mum is white (the love of my life is white) the most pure and wise person in my life is white. The clients who work with me are white and they understand me. I believe that we don’t have any color – our vocabulary is limited by color: white, black etc. We have to use these simple words to get people to understand us. It’s other things that create the gap: more men hire me than women – why? It makes me wonder because I have realized that when men come to me they understand the depth of the work and trust my authority. Women can sometimes feel competition and fear the authority of another woman. That annoys me because I have found my strength and I would like to teach others the same regardless of background or gender. I just see beauty: the true beauty. Also I don’t think a lot about the perceptions of others because I produce a lot and I am an action woman. My creative process is Feel, Do and Understand 2 to 3 years after as opposed to understanding before I begin. If it takes me that long then imagine what it could be for the other people who view my work – I do the work because I know I have to do it. Understanding eliminates color and all other divisions: by the end of your life you truly understand on thousands of levels but if you can do some of that before then at least you will benefit from a much better life.
You’ve worked with Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Swizz Beats, J Cole, The New York Times, Esquire, The New Yorker, Nike, Time inc, to name a few, that’s got to be the greatest example of organic success?
I was not in agreement with the gallery route because I wanted to travel the world and do my work and sell through social media. I believed that I would be able to make that simple dream a reality. I got a call and spoke to Swizz Beatz on the phone and he brought me on board for the next no commission exhibition. Cole’s record label contacted me to shoot their vision - Chris Rock came to me, the other brands you mentioned and others like Tumi and L Oreal also came to me because they saw something in my work. And the result of all this is that I was pushed to work even harder – why would 3 amazing visioners contact me without knowing they were going to? It’s about projection becoming reality.
Delphine is currently finalizing her latest project – Women of New York.
She describes this project as: “Through portraits of women, I aim to counter a patriarchal affront currently swelling in the United States.
Shot over several months the project exemplifies how confidence and courage on an individual basis can be harnessed to embolden women as a collective force.
Find out more about Delphine Diallo: www.delphinediallo.com
Morphosis is related to our living as one of the most important growing stages we will go through. Within the silk industry most of the Bombyx Mori are killed in order to extract the silk from the cocoon. What if we let the worm become a butterfly? How can we use this material differently and celebrate the morphosis of the insects?
Morphosis is related to our living as one of the most important growing stages we will go through. The idea of morphosis is a matter of evolution, how a shape, material, human, insect will change with or without an external factor. The silkworm is one of the most iconic insects experiencing a morphosis during its entire evolution. It is born as a worm but then morphs into a butterfly and arrives at maturation.
Within the silk industry most of the Bombyx Mori are killed in order to extract the silk from the cocoon.
What if we let the worm become a butterfly? How can we use this material differently and celebrate the morphosis of the insects?
The piece has been made by an accumulation of hundreds of silkworm cocoons and are then varnished with a thin layer of a natural honeybee bio resin. The slow process of the making of the piece underlines the beauty of the insect world and defends a slow process in the making of these alien looking pieces.
About the designer
French-born and British based, Marlène Huissoud is an experimental designer. Marlène works as a freelance designer for different companies alongside the art & design areas, and created her own company in 2013. In 2014, she graduated with an MA Material Futures (known as Textile Futures) at Central Saint Martins’ School of Art and Design in London where she developed the project From Insects : an exploration of insect materials from the common honeybee and the Indian silkworm. Her work questions our way of making by challenging the properties of natural resources. She believes in the value of the concept, not only with an outcome but with the complete creative process.
She has been named as one of the UK’s top 70 rising design stars representing the future of British design by the Design Council, has been nominated by the Arts Foundation UK for the Material Innovation Award in 2016, won the Make me! Design Prize in 2015, nominated for Design Parade at Villa Noailles in 2015, won the Diploma Selection Award at Designblok in 2014.
Her work has been exhibited worldwide at major Institutions such as Chamber New York, Design Miami Basel, Design Museum Barcelona, Artipelag Museum Stockholm, Design Days Dubaï, Rossana Orlandi Milan, Gallery Bensimon Paris, APalazzo Gallery Brescia, MAK Vienna.
Marlene is currently based in London, UK and is always open for collaborations and exciting projects.
Find out more about Cocoons: www.marlene-huissoud.com
We talk to Abhisaar Saxena – founder and creative director of one of India’s most exciting and fast growing fashion brands.
Kindly introduce PAMILONE to our audience?
Pamilone is a luxury demi-couture label for the modern woman. The design aesthetic of Pamilone is framed to be understated elegance. Drawing inspiration from linear form of structure, timeless fashion ethics and diverse contemporary ingenuity, the label is synonymous with nessing the sophistication and desire to outdo the expression of modern fashion. We make fashion that is rebellious and feminine with an ineffable sense of enigma and raw energy. The design process of the label encourages the garments to have a voice and structure. The label revolves around the juxtaposition of ‘minimal - extravagance’ and ‘structured - fluidity’.
Who is Abhisaar and why did you become a fashion designer?
Understanding academic progress is deep-seated in me, I acknowledged the creative in me very late in life. To decide on my professional education, I reviewed fashion along with other options and found it of great interest. As my comprehension of fashion was being polished and enhanced, I grew to address my vision of fashion by translating it to a brand. I am not so much a garment designer; I like to create a perception of individualism, something that lasts beyond a product.
How much of the designer you are is learned versus natural?
I have always been intrigued by the form of beauty, my interest varied from day-to-day objects, to architectural structures and art. My fascination was soon modeled to believe that something truly beautiful is what holds absolute simplicity whilst possessing grandeur. My quest for re nement is very much innate, but I have learned through study and experience that an interesting design should be elegant and thought inducing.
Minimalist, edgy and bold, androgynous yet feminine, smart and dauntless – a lot to balance?
Several factors influence the designing of a garment, but these values are what give our designs the character that we represent. We begin with noting the experience that we want the client to perceive when they wear our designs, and build our way to the look, feel and construction of the garments. We target our designs for the fashion-conscious audience who value their possessions and often have a longer relation with them than any disposable trend. The beauty of a product lies in the perception drawn by the design to define ‘who you are!’
Your work is visually arresting – how do you create the impossible to ignore?
I am quite a visual person, right from the inception of my concept I believe in representing it in the finest manner. To make a collection truly captivating we practice a meticulous production routine, followed by an insightful photo-shoot campaign. Our designs frame the vision to satisfy the innate desire of a woman to be perceived as self-reliant and elegant.
PAMILONE transfers fluidly internationally – why do you think that is the case?
Appreciation of design and creativity cannot be contained by a perimeter. We cater to
the modern woman; bold and self-assured, geographies can neither define nor distinguish these women. The personality of our audience gives us the fluidity to cater not only in India but also across the globe.
How do you balance ‘less is more’ and the rich influences of an Indian DNA?
The foundation of Pamilone is composed of elegance, functionality and sophistication enveloped in the aesthetics of the modern times. All our designs are churned and refined to achieve the best minimal outcome suitable to our inspiration. The opulence announced by the rich Indian DNA is evidenced in the look and feel of the collection, thus allowing the designs to be resplendent and not clamorous.
Kindly give us a quick education in high-end Indian fashion.
In the Indian high-end fashion industry, ethnic wear is perceived to chair the segment. Elements of heritage wear and blends of contemporary wear seem to work well with the audience in the Indian market. One can see a good influence of Indian craftsmanship; artistry and labor excel in the high-end Indian fashion segment. The market is now evolving in its readiness to accept modern designs and non-ethnic silhouettes coming from homeland designers. The increased pace of digitization and the growth of HNIs in the country assures a steady rise in the development of the overall high-end fashion segment.
You have a great online shop – is the in-shop route to market still important?
We have designed our website to give the shoppers a true feel of the brand. This space of virtual reality enables the ease of access to the customer without being bound by location or time. With the age of digitization these platforms are a boon to shoppers as well as brands. Nevertheless, traditional stores do hold enormous potential to connect with the audience and enable them to experience the touch and feel of the garments. It is finally this experience that the customer enjoys while shopping, and thus we value both online and of offline platforms equally.
You are based in Thane also known as the City of Lakes (because of its 33 lakes) – how does it differ from the neighboring city of Mumbai?
Thane, located on the outskirts of Mumbai is one of the fastest growing cities on the western coast of India. It is much less populated than Mumbai and is a serene place compared to its neighboring metro. Situated on the western banks of Thane creek with Parsik hills on the east and Yeour hills on the west, the city has a rich cultural heritage and its existence appears in the global history since 9th century A.D. It is mentioned in the writings of Greek historian ‘Tolemi’ and is noted as one of the best cities by the famous sailor Marcopolo.
Find out more Pamilone: www.pamilone.com
We talk the business of Effortless Elegance with Latin America’s leading fashion designer... and by the way she is also a Knight of France.
You studied interior design, was the move into Fashion Design a natural one and why?
After I graduated with a degree in interior design, I started experimenting on T-shirts
with appliques made from exotic materials. My friends loved them and started to order them. The friends of my friends also ordered and people from other cities started to call... It was crazy! At this moment I noted that the product and the circumstances were perfect to start a new adventure. Then I started to create pieces to complement the T-shirts. So, in a natural and organic way, I was developing a vision, a brand, and a collection at the same time. When I saw how popular what I was doing had become, I decided to focus entirely on fashion and I’ve never, never, regretted that decision.
You have become one of the most acclaimed gures of Latin American fashion - how do you ensure that your vision is relevant for the millennial+ generation?
Millennials value uniqueness. They want to express their own style and are always looking for something different... And independent luxury brands like mine can offer clothes that are true originals. In addition; to keep my vision relevant, being innovative is the only way. For this reason, we are always innovating with the use of materials, looking always for something new, challenging, and exciting, partnering with creative people and other brands, thinking outside the box and always keeping an eye on the future... Also, I have a millennial son and a millennial daughter totally involved in the expansion of my brand, one on the business side and the other on the creative side, and they will be key to the brand’s future.
How do you feel about being a role model for a new generation of creators?
I was the first Latin American designer to be invited by the organizers to present my collections in the of cial calendar of Milano and Paris fashion weeks. It was a huge accomplishment, because I was not the Latin creative director of a European brand... I was presenting my own brand. In addition, my collections were “made in Colombia”. I received a lot of recognition across the globe for this success. I showed that you could create high and competitive fashion in Latin America and my success inspired a lot of young designers to ful ll their dreams and aspirations. How I feel? A big responsibility! My success motivates me to continue challenging myself, opening doors, and supporting important initiatives such as the Miami Dade College’s fashion and design program. Finally, my advice for the new generation is very clear: Keep your focus; it’s the only way to make it right. You can have talent but without focus you won’t achieve your goals... and enjoy the ride!
What has been the lasting impact of your participation at the Milano and Paris fashion weeks?
Showing my collections in the top European fashion weeks made me realize that I could be up there with the best of them, and it also got me thinking about where I could grow and branch out. I was looking for different ways to translate my vision beyond fashion. Armani, Versace and Bvlgari started the concept of fashion hotels and it was perfect for me. That was was the origin of the Tcherassi Hotels. And then, Tcherassi Home Collection was born. In 2011, following the successful opening of the Tcherassi Hotel, the Tcherassi Home Collection was of cially introduced to create an everyday “casual luxury” experience. The pieces feature details such as ribbons, stitches and pleats, signatures of my fashion. The sheets, duvets, pillows, throws, and towels were conceived as the perfect home accessories for people looking to enhance their living.
The French government awarded you the “Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.” That’s quite the recognition?
It was a great honor to be recognized for my contributions to the fashion industry. It isn’t just a title. It isn’t just a medal. It’s more! This kind of honor is a huge motivation to continue working very hard and opening doors for the new generation of designers at the same time.
You wrote the book “Effortless Elegance” published by Random House – why did you write it and is it really possible to learn Effortless Elegance?
I wanted to share my experiences in the fashion business and communicate my vision at the same time, trying to answer all the questions I was receiving by mail or during press interviews. It was a great experience, putting all your ideas on paper, creating a narrative and offering advice at the same time. On the concept of effortless elegance, my approach to design is casual luxury oriented. I believe in calm and relaxed luxury, without pretensions. You can’t learn to be elegant but you can try to express yourself through fashion and create a unique style. The traditional concept of elegance is overrated. I prefer a woman with a unique style than another who is a fashion victim, dressed head to toe with trendy clothes without any identity.
Your business Altamoda S.A.S. is a prominent creative business; producing and marketing the collections of local creative talent – tell us about this work.
Accessories are one of my creative outlets and, as you mentioned, I have collaborated with local artisans in their development. My first collaboration has a beautiful story behind it because I was invited to be part of the charity project BeLive supported by Lauren Santo Domingo. Top designers from around the world received traditional Wayúu mochila bags and we were asked to do an artistic intervention. I decided on a non-invasive process being very respectful of the pattern and color scheme – opting to cover mine with Swarovski crystals in order to enhance its beauty. Afterwards I decided to work with the women of the Wayúu indigenous community on some pieces for my collection. I received some samples and worked with them in some variations of color, proportion, length of the strap, etc., always being totally respectful of their traditions and the meanings of the patterns. Most recently, I worked with the artisans of Usiacurí, Atlántico. They wear the most beautiful utilitarian pieces using the “Iraca” palm. For my Resort 2018 collection, I transformed sewing boxes, birdcages and breadbaskets into the most beautiful bags. One of them was featured recently in a WWD trend report. They are beautiful collaborations; I support economically their communities and promote their traditions and culture at the same time.
You have said: “Fashion has no age or nationality.” The internationalization of the brand is a priority – what regions are you targeting for this growth and why?
I am building step by step an independent luxury brand that reflects my own vision on fashion and style. I will continue opening my own namesake boutiques in key cities around the world following the success of the openings of Madrid and Miami and expanding my two extension brands Tcherassi Hotel Collection and Tcherassi Home Collection. In addition to our enhanced online presence, for the first time this October the brand will be available wholesale in exclusive multi-brand boutiques across America, Europe and the Middle East. My mission as founder and creative director of my brand is to keep it relevant and cohesive. When your brand has a strong foundation and a clear vision, you can translate it to different fields in a very consistent way.
You own two luxury hotels: MANSION TCHERASSI housed in a 250 year old colonial mansion and Tcherassi Hotel + Spa. Why was luxury hospitality a good idea?
The trend of fashion hotels was “tailor made” for me because of my studies in interior design and it, allowed me to “open the door”, literally and guratively, to transition my brand from fashion to lifestyle. The creative process of the first hotel (Mansión Tcherassi) was more experimental, almost a lab test to try to translate my fashion vision to interior design. We created some trademarks such as vertical gardens; a very original approach to textures and finishes, the perfect selection of design accents incorporating haute couture materials and techniques...
After the success of the rst one, we decided to open a second hotel with more rooms (42), more restaurants (2) and other amenities. The new project took these trademarks to a new context, bigger but not louder, because the calm elegance, still are the essence of the project. Tcherassi Hotels were conceived to capture the spirit of effortless elegance that distinguishes my fashion collections. The spaces were created to inspire, to activate memories and to redefine the traditional concept of indoor-outdoors. To achieve it, I collaborated with top architecture firms such as EstudioMorfo in the first and with Richard Mishaan in the second one. They translated the essence of my brand and my vision to the spaces in order to create the perfect frame for unforgettable experiences.
Colombia has had a tumultuous history in past decades – how do you feel about the country today and it’s future?
I am very optimistic on the future of Colombia and I am totally convinced that the best days of our country are ahead. If we achieved a lot without peace, now, the sky is the limit. What I love most about Colombia is our profound desire to be a better and peaceful country... In our dark days, the country produced a lot of talent in the creative fields, including art, music, literature and, of course, fashion. Talking about fashion, when I started, fashion was a topic of social pages and entertainment; today it is considered one strategic industry for our economy and the best ambassador of our creative talent. We have very good fashion “made in Colombia” and Colombian creators are very connected with our roots. Our proposals are very different because our country is diverse: A designer from the Andean region is totally different to a designer from the Caribbean.
Your brand prides itself on experimentation of the traditional and the avant-garde. Tell us about your new collections.
My designs feature haute couture materials and couture techniques, mixing traditional and avant-garde elements. It’s part of the DNA of my brand from the beginning. When I presented my rst collection at Milan Fashion Week, critics said my designs could be dubbed “prêt-à-couture”. Regarding my new collection, the next one is Resort 2018. For this collection, I wanted to go back to basics, using natural materials and a very pure color palette, and revisiting some shapes of past collections that are part of the DNA of my brand. The shapes of different varieties of owers inspired me. Flowers appear printed in luxurious cotton, deconstructed in different garments, contrasted with stripes, polka dots and squares, and incorporated in the beautiful artisan bags. To match this approach, the silhouettes and the color palette are very earthy and organic. And regarding materials, different kinds of cotton are the main attraction.
Find out more about the Tcherassi Brands: www.silviatcherassi.com