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.
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.
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
EGIZIA + KARIM RASHID
Egizia has collaborated with the high-spirited designer, Egyptian born but Canadian by adoption, Karim Rashid to bring us two new collections that push forward and expand the candles and spaces fragrances world, but with the unique touch of the artist.
“Candles and Home Fragrances”: sinuous shapes and uorescent colors blend together, guiding us through a delicate sensorial and visual itinerary into a world full of fresh and light fragrances.
“Static” collection”: the light and thin silver inlay make all the vases perfectly able to decorate and light up any space, with personality and freshness.
“Egizia has given me the opportunity to touch the world with my contemporary hieroglyphics, my icons, symbols, optical patterns and digitally inspired decoration with their beautiful glass and hand-made precise serigraphy. To bring meaning to decoration is to bring signi cance and relationships between our objects and our lives. I feel some beautiful connection with my Egyptian heritage and with Egizia as a symbolic marriage of our love for the new contemporary decorated landscape.” Karim.
When asked to define his work, Jerusalem born and Paris based, Dan answers:
“Definitions are our limits; I would like to consider myself as an explorer and adventurer.
The amazing thing about design is that everything is possible - dreams can be translated, abstracted and carried out; raw material gets personality, movement and a new life.
The continuous quest toward new shapes, volumes, techniques, hidden places, new inspiration and the inevitable insisting on perfection are who I am, my DNA.
These are the reasons for my deep love to design, the ability to keep on a journey of an endless quest.”
From his first Light (recycled from a Russian vacuum cleaner) to the award winning steel structures of the Wild Atlantic Way discovery point. Shane designs with inspiration from the nature of Ireland’s Boyne valley.
What is the essence of Shane Holland Design?
I try to be flexible and to listen to clients, create ideas that match expectations, and try to add individuality to a project by not being scared to try things out. We try to create items of beauty and functionality.
You have had an impressive design journey since 1991 – what were your first products?
My first light was recycled from a Russian vacuum cleaner, which was given a base and had a spotlight at the top of a wobbly pole. It ended up getting demolished on stage by my friends the band “Whipping Boy” in Dublin when they “borrowed it”. The first production design was our Babel light, which was like an inverted “Tower of Babel” and made in Irish glass and bronze, which we initially made for a Dublin based hairdresser David Marshall.
How do you approach designing furniture and lighting to get them both right?
I don’t find the disciplines to be so different but just have different functional requirements. With lighting you have to look at materials and reflectivity to get a good drama in the piece in which you also need to have good balance. When creating furniture you need good balance in terms of posture and structural issues. I rarely get everything right first time; sometimes it takes continual development and new editions to get everything right. It took 5 years for me to fine tune the ‘Stule’ for example.
What does it mean when you describe your products as ‘Inspired by nature’?
Inspired by nature is such a general term but it means when you look at nature, rocks, the sea, trees or branches you can be inspired to use things as you find them or just spark off an idea from natural ideas. For example our Ruray desk light, which was inspired by waves and waveforms. The Ghost of Ash lamps were inspired by simple ash branches integrated into lamps and tables or our Sea Clocks use rocks from different parts of the Irish Coast featuring differing geology.
How do you balance longevity with trendiness?
I always strive to use good materials and invest build time in trying to create longevity. If the balance in the design is correct then trendiness does not really come in to it. Some people may latch on to it as a trend. I don’t really worry about trends as I am often both in fashion and out of fashion at the same time.
What advantages do you offer as a company that is able to take a product from concept to design to production?
The reason we really value our workshop facility is that it is the route for us not to just design but to experiment and produce and deliver projects. We were able to design and make the recent lights for the famous Harland and Wolff Drawing offices in Belfast where they designed and made the famous Titanic ship. We listened to the client’s requirement of lights, which replicated the originals from 1910 but also added some new sophisticated features. These were monitored right through design manufacture to delivery and installation for the Titanic Hotel due to open in Sept 2017.
You have created awards for many leading brands. How does designing an award differ from furniture?
Awards are more sculptural in nature and we have sometimes less functional concerns
but they have to look good and be created to reflect the nature of the award be it design, science, architecture or music. Awards are about recognition and celebration so everybody wants to get one but they are carefully designed to give longevity to a ceremony via good design.
Is there an international audience for your brand?
I don’t really know if I have a global audience, but with the Internet and communication anybody can see and buy your product and fortunately we have sent our objects to many countries. As a business I do have to work hard to create an audience by exhibiting abroad. In essence I do think that I have a unique offering and some people react to that wherever they may be.
You collaborated with Diem Pottery on lighting for Eneko at One Aldwych Restaurant in London. What other collaborations can you share with us?
We have recently worked on the Wild Atlantic Way discovery point featuring the Marconi Station and Alcock and Brown transatlantic landing site in Conemara as a collaboration with Denis Byrne Architects where we built Steel structures in this rugged landscape to interpret this historic industrial site for both Radio and Aviation History. We were delighted that this won Best Place award in the RIAI Architecture Awards 2017. The Titanic Hotel Project Belfast was also exciting and we are constantly collaborating on projects with architects, entrepreneurs and companies to bring things through to reality. We also worked with Ciara O Toole of Amelia on an aviation project to make furniture from airplane parts such as the desk from a Boeing 737 engine. This desk now resides in the business School of Edinburgh University.
Your company is based in the Boyne Valley of Ireland – what’s the area like for visitors?
The village of Duleek where I work is over 1500 years old and has 4 stone high crosses and an old Abbey. The Boyne Valley is known as the heritage capital of Ireland having the ancient Passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, not to mention Tara, the seat of the High Kings of Ireland so it is a good area to visit if interested in history. The area has some interesting castles such as Slane Castle and is still quite close to Dublin so suitable for a day trip or a bit of shing or kayaking if visiting.
Find out more about Shane Holland Design: www.shanehollanddesign.com
From a small bottle of perfume for Guerlain to the fairing of the Nice tramway, Ora Ïto imprints his signature futuristic vision on projects small and large. We highlight 4 projects the dynamic and joyously unpredictable genius presented in 2017.
Ora ïto is a phenomenon in pop culture. Way back in 1997 he announced his entry when he hijacked top brands with his virtual Vuitton and Apple products that instantly became global icons of the digital revolution. He is the youngest designer of his generation to collaborate with leading brands of luxury goods and industry. Then there was the huge multi-acclaimed success of his aluminium Heineken bottle.
The multidisciplinary, transversal Ora ïto studio has since gone from telephone to architecture, from furniture to the hotel industry, from perfume to tramways and from flying saucers to restaurants, manipulating symbols to simplify them. A tenacious methodology for which he has invented a neologism: ‘simplexity,’ decoding today’s DNA to conceptualise future mutations. His fluid vocabulary materialises movement reinventing streamlining in the digital era and giving shape to the desires of our contemporary society.
In 2013, he created MAMO, an art centre on the roof terrace of the mythical Cité Radieuse designed by Le Corbusier in Marseille. A historical and contemporary place high in the sky, with a 360° view that summarises his passion for levitation and lightness, ‘Defying the laws of gravity creates feelings that go beyond aesthetics.’ The greatest contemporary artists from Xavier Veilhan to Dan Graham are exhibited there before Ito inaugurates an architectural collaboration with Daniel Buren, the master of French conceptual art.
In 2016, five iconic pieces of his work came into the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou. A lover of contemporary art, he works in the tradition of Le Corbusier whom he greatly admires, always trying to purify his drawing “to the best of the maximum.” He was appointed Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2011.
A selection of 4 Ora Ito projects in 2017.
1 - The Ico chair - A tribute to Cassina’s carpentry workmanship heritage.
The Ico chair is representative of the values that Cassina still maintains today. A combination of wood craftsmanship and technological innovation. It is the essence of the concept MedaMade. The project, developed over more than two years with Ora Ito, has completely centred the equilibrium between craft and industry, style and experimentation. Ico clearly references Cassina’s heritage and in particular the 814 chair designed by Ico Parisi in 1950; the chair’s name pays tribute to this historical model. A chair that has been invigorated by Ora Ito’s dynamism to form an instantly recognisable contour.
2 - The new Nice train and tramway - like an ideal and mobile portrait of the city.
Ora ïto is collaborating with Alstrom to create an organic and rational tram for the new generation of Alstom Citadis X05 citywide tramways. The lucid elegant shape is designed to slip through the historical town paving a contemporary ochre trail. Ochre like the pigments of the façades of the sumptuous Place Massena or Villa Matisse, emblematic 17th century jewels from when ice was still under Sardinian in uence. Ora ïto draws from his double Italian culture to update a tramway summarising this Mediterranean city. Traditional whitewashed workmanship has been converted into a hi-tech object with the ‘simplexity’ valued by the designer, this tenacious decoding of the most complex technology to simplify it for users.
The pure ochre tramway is trimmed with black strips structuring each train with a graphic and signage rhythm. Attention to detail is pushed to the extreme, metallic lacquering reflecting the city in the movement of the tram immediately resonating with the landscape. An object with the qualities of a chameleon that embodies the French designer’s transversal vision for Nice, like an ideal and mobile portrait of the city.
3 – Ora presented Jean Pierre Raynaud @ MAMO - July 2nd to October 1st 2017
Jean-Pierre Raynaud is the fth artist to be invited by the MAMO (Marseille Modulor) after Xavier Veilhan, Daniel Buren, Dan Graham and Felice Varini. The fth singular point of view given to the Cité Radieuse of Le Corbusier, its terrace and gymnasium having been redeveloped by Ora Ito into an art centre. With the support of Longchamp, the MAMO continues its annual exhibitions, inviting world-renowned artists, able to master imposing spaces and to measure themselves to this unique and extra-ordinary place.
“Jean-Pierre Raynaud has been essential in my awakening to Art. His house of course, his stature and the whole of his oeuvre have shaped my artistic culture”, Says Ora Ito.
“I don’t feel as though I am in competition with other artists, I feel like a guest of the MAMO. Invited by Le Corbusier to whom I must address a response, as free as the man himself. The point of interest here is not in the exhibition of art-works, but in an encounter with the architecture, especially with the listed terrace where restrictions apply”, describes Jean-Pierre Raynaud, returning from the art market and its excess to the pleasure of pure creation.
The making of MAMO
In 2010, Ora Ito heard that the Cité Radieuse’s rooftop gym, built in the 1960s, was for sale. The location was extraordinary, but an extension marred the view. It would have to be demolished... except it had been listed with the rest of the building in 1986. And so battle commenced. With the help of the Foundation Le Corbusier, which was also campaigning to restore the building’s original aspect, and later with the support of the building’s co- owners, obstacles were swept aside. The “wart” was removed and the initial grace of the rooftop terrace returned. The walls were sympathetically restored. Work was carried out with extreme care, to the original plans, backed by the building’s residents/admirers of Corbu. By putting an art centre on the roof, Ora Ito has taken onboard Le Corbusier’s philosophy of a place for all to share.
4 - YOOMA Hotel – A bold businessman, a talented designer, an ambitious artist: the trio behind Yooma.
“Yooma is not just another hotel. Yooma is the rst of a new genre, the rst hotel that has been custom-created for a new generation of clients, created to welcome families and city-breakers”. - PIERRE BECKERICH - Initiator and founder of the project.
When Pierre Beckerich initiated the project 3 years ago, he wanted Yooma to fit in seamlessly with the Front de Seine area, an atypical neighborhood of Paris built in the 70s and seen today as part of 20th century heritage. He called upon Ora Ïto to design the building and develop every small detail, partnering in this instance with the architecture rm Calq®.
Ora Ïto then asked Daniel Buren to join him on this project. Buren created a gigantic fresco to the rhythm of his signature “stripes”. Starting out from a deep blue outer wall, a blast trail weaves through the hotel shaping its structure. Graphic elements give a visual rhythm to the lobby and hallways before bursting out onto the façade. This work unfurls everywhere at Yooma. A close-knit dialogue between art and design where neither creator speaks louder than the other.
Find out more about Ora Ito: www.ora-ito.com
25 years, emerging legends, a contemplative approach, a byword for elegant design, teaching positions at Ecal. Clients include Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, Nestle, Artemide, Moroso, a Japanese Prefecture. Yet they seek to re-learn...
What are the unique advantages of being a trio for 25 years?
It is an organic constitution based on transversal views. This results in a creative negotiation dedicated to the project, following the picture of a jazz trio. Being three, there is never a blockage; it is an organic and harmonious construction.
Why is the Transdisciplinary approach your central tenet?
To work and manipulate the materials is like the art of cooking. This enables us to easily imagine switching from one scale to the next. Every project and scale enables to learn and generates inspiration from one project to the next. Each topic is shared, allowing to learn and through this, find inspiration.
You have expressed the desire for a harmonic and natural unity?
The work of three members is to share the differences of three people together to
create unity. It is to calculate the harmonious compositions for a project, taking into account the context of this latter.
Why is Material the starting point of creating?
To cook, you first need to taste.
What are the key similarities in the way you approach new projects?
They are linked by their approach to materiality and to the context, which will guide us to rethink and reimagine.
What is your key message to upcoming designers?
Be curious. Know to listen and to learn. And know to re-learn what you think to know too well already.
Your project CASA GIFU focuses on Japanese know-how, why?
The transformation of materials through a specific know-how brings together our passion for material manipulation and senses. To be close to these know-how enables us to be kept informed in our work. Japan is unique in the preservation of different ancestral know-how.
Tell us about “FLOWER POWER” in Kazakhstan.
The scenography “Flower power” was realized for the EXPO 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan, with as central theme, the ecology of our planet. atelier oï wanted to present Switzerland to people of central Asia who don’t know this small country, under the aspect of today’s ecology. It presents sustainability under a Swiss and innovative point of view.
Your headquarters, is quite a place in it’s own right. Tell us about Moïtel?
atelier oï‘ headquarters, situated in the former motel of La Neuveville in Switzerland, halfway between the North and the South of Europe and straddling a language border, is a veritable tool supporting both artistic approach and projects.
The three-storey building, renamed Moïtel, accommodates all activities. It houses the ateliers, a materials library, a prototype workshop, of ce spaces, a photography studio and a gallery dedicated to exhibitions and experimentations. Therefore, it is not merely a working space, but also a laboratory for experimentation, a venue for cultural exchange and events.
Find out more about Atelier Oi: www.atelier-oi.ch
GIOPATO & COOMBES - We explore differences, Milan/ London and the concept of contamination. (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)
To Cristiana and Christopher design means finding the synthesis between the emotion behind conception and the pragmatism of innovation. In every product rationality, essential condition for the development of the project, meets intuition and emotion, in the research of a constant balance. We find out more:
You have some surface differences: (woman/man, architect/designer, Italian/British). What are the similarities?
We both love challenges, three years ago we dived into our independent design adventure with no doubts. We are not afraid to take new ways, and we are both very positive thinkers. We share a great passion and special attitude toward design that leads us to express our visions, and also our different characters, in a unique project. We have a great respect of each other’s skills and visions, and we believe in differences.
What are the key philosophies behind your work?
We work especially in the light eld, and the light has a big power: it arises deep emotions. Our mission is to create contemporary lights, which drive emotions; we look for a balance between technologic innovation and the highest artisanal manufacture.
Your description reads: “Christopher works logically and calmly while Cristiana works passionately and instinctively” . . . together you create beautiful results with both calm and passionate aspects combined. How does the process of collaborating work itself out?
We’ve worked together since 2006, we have learnt to work together and give us the freedom to express each other. We start working on a project just chatting about it. We investigate rst what’s the aim of it, in any sense. Then we immerse ourselves into it, passing the project to each other’s hand in different stages.
A true collaboration, where both parts are involved with the same roles, results from a strong alchemy and a creative tension that evolves continuously.
You have an eclectic list of projects including lighting, furniture, and even the interior of a helicopter. What is your approach to new design projects?
We tend not to impose ourselves any boundaries when it comes to experimenting with new projects. We try to study hard the constraints and we work hardly on those to create new solutions!
What differentiates Great from Good design?
Good design is functional, great design is both functional and beautiful, and it arrives to people’s hearts.
Something we have read a couple of times from you – “contamination of ideas?” What does that mean?
We hate to close a project into a box; we love instead when a project encloses different aspects that belong from elds very far away.
It becomes rich and unexpected. Both our inspirations and ideas for a project don’t come from an only source; they are the result of a process, of contents that, with time, elaboration and experience, are enriched with other content, becoming something else.
Cristiana you have mentioned the importance of balancing function with aesthetics because it ultimately gets you into the hearts of people - how do you know when you have achieved the right balance?
You don’t know it when you design it. That’s the frustrating part of our job. You realize if you have achieved it, when someone looks at your product and his/her eyes start shining! That’s when the magic comes, and you think “GOT IT!” Then you can take a deep breath.
Christopher – “Pushes industrial processes to their sculptural limits and tries to reduce the impact of industrial repetition”. Tell us more.
While working, I respect the motto of always stressing things and going beyond the established to find new expressive languages, through investing time in experimentation and research...
Please describe your thinking behind the – simply impossible to resist – Giopato & Coombes Editions?
We push our boundaries, not being afraid to “look in the dark”, hoping to bring back the magic of daydreams.
We aim to design projects that, both for quality of the piece itself and quality in manufacturing, result to be unique and that can become bespoke pieces.
You worked with some similarly talented people in your early years - Cristiana with Makio Hasuike and Patricia Urquiola. Christopher with George Sowden and Sebastian Bergne. What were those experiences like?
We both had the luck to meet and collaborate with very talented designers, from which we learnt a lot. It was a fundamental experience for our formation and to put the bases of what we are today.
But once we started our own projects we were very focused to get free and far from their vision and create our own language.
We are still in touch with them, and when we show them a new product, we still feel the same butterflies in the stomach that you feel when you present an idea to your mentor.
You both met while at University in London – you have lived in Milan for a long time. How do the two cities compare for you?
Both are very dynamic and interesting cities, and both have a stimulating design scene. We were in London at the start of the Millennium and we remember a unique and liberating explosion of style and energy. For us London represents extreme classicism and the breakthrough youth culture. It’s a lively, inspiring city that’s always in motion. Milan is a workaholic city; always busy, never stopping except the weekends when everyone leaves. It’s stylish and classic, and for the Design scene is definitely the “place to be”, but it’s more conformist than London.
What projects are you launching now and what can we look forward to from you in the next year?
We are exploring once again the concept of contamination, of things that become something else when merged with others, working on some extensions and variants of existing projects.
We are also working on an architectural project, our new headquarters! It will be a place where the exchange of ideas is central, where antique and contemporary coexist, where the lights will be the protagonists, where our collaborators will be happy to come and spend their time, where the green will delight our days and will remember us the change of the seasons. A human place, first of all.
Check out Cirque, Gioielli and Lace (pictured) now at www.giopatocoombes.com