London duo Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard, aka Fredrikson Stallard, operates at the outer limits of design. The Fizz catches up with the men in black as they prepare to unveil a new furniture collection in Milan
BY DEE IVA
How did Fredrikson Stallard start?
It was a very organic process that began when we met at Central Saint Martins in 1995. Patrik studied product design and Ian studied ceramic design. After university Ian set up his own ceramic studio, designing, making and selling his works. Patrik was working as an architect and designer for a small architectural firm connected with the late Zaha Hadid’s practice. We started to design pieces together, such as the log tables 'Table#1' and 'Table#2' (above right) and 'Ming#1' vases (right), that set the foundation for Fredrikson Stallard. We first showed our work together at 100% Design in London in 2003 and officially launched as Fredrikson Stallard with our solo show 'Gloves for an Armless Venus' at Tribeca Grand in New York in May 2005.
As a Swedish/British duo what do each of you bring to Fredrikson Stallard?
We both share the same ideologies about the avenue of design that we have carved out for ourselves. The more we work together the more everything becomes interlinked and it would be impossible to say that one or the other has a certain speciality. Ian is generally more diplomatic while Patrik is more uncompromising and together this works well.
ABOVE: Swede Patrik Fredrikson (left) and Brit talent Ian Stallard (right)
BELOW: Let there be blood. 'The Lovers' urethane rug, 2005
How would you describe your style?
Abstract Expressionistic, process-driven high design with integrity.
You’ve been associated with the ‘Design Art’ scene of the Noughties. Many have fallen by the wayside while you have blossomed. What is the key to your success?
We are truly passionate about we do – it is a strong desire we need to fulfil rather than a job – and also we never follow trends but do what we believe in. A lot of galleries and designers jumped on the so-called 'Design Art' bandwagon purely because they thought they could make money, and all of them were wiped away by the recession. We have delivered outstanding works that museums all over the globe collect to mark an important time and place and, as with any historically important art, it is paramount that it's not driven by financial gains. We have an amazing team who are just as dedicated to the arts as ourselves. We believe it's this calling that has been paramount to our success. Of course, there are financial interests in what we do, but this must never be the driving force.
ABOVE: 'Silver Crush Side Table', 2012
BELOW: 'Barbarians' by Hofesh Shechter, touring now
Who inspires you?
Life! It’s more a question of what than who. Anything from fashion to fine art shows to contemporary dance performances, and from the remote Swedish wilderness to East London's club scene. We thrive on contrasts, to live in constant energetic flux. Often people probably don't understand the creative value we put on placing ourselves into extreme alternating positions, from crazy dark debauched nights to complete serenity in our house on a cliff in the Greek archipelago. This creates an incredible emotional tension that feeds our creativity.
In terms of specific people, one that springs to mind at the moment is the choreographer Hofesh Shechter. We love the rawness of his work and the way it balances on the ridge between beauty and dark chaos.
Tell us about your new 'Gravity' collection
The 'Gravity' collection expresses traces of process, traces of a chaotic and dynamic transience captured in a moment of stillness: a record of a continuous flux that has been frozen in time. The pieces are studies of the relationship between natural and synthetic, geometric and organic, analogue and digital, sculptural and industrial, one-off and multiple.
It is a collection of functional objects where the context, process and sculptural aesthetics are paramount, as with fine art sculpture. The pieces are a symbiosis between us physically, our vision, the material and the process.
BELOW: The translucent ice-cool 'Gravity' tables, 2015, recently shown at London's David Gill Gallery; Fredrikson Stallard's new 'Camouflage' outdoor furniture for Driade, 2016
You’re launching a new furniture collection this April in Milan. Tell us more...
It’s outdoor furniture for Italian brand Driade, which we are very excited about. We feel that we have created something new. Modernism killed so many human nuances such as the importance of sculptural aesthetics that make our lives richer. With outdoor furniture the design criteria was always to be able to fold, stack and store it until the weather allowed us to spend time outside again. This collection offers not just an alternative but also a new solution, with duality that will allow the furniture to be left outside all year and enrich our environment as sculptural objects. Like a fallen tree or a flat rock, that become natural seating and tables in warmer weather but have an equally beautiful life in winter, the 'Camouflage' collection changes emphasis with the seasons. Just imagine the pieces in a snow-laden garden landscape – they would look fabulous when the snow lands on them outlining the cut-out camouflage pattern.
ABOVE: The unearthly 'Species' sofa collection, 2015, resembles an alien landscape
Which of your pieces are you proudest of?
We have a strong relationship with all the pieces we have created, so it's like trying to choose your favourite child! Probably the work we have been proudest of recently would be the incredible 'Gravity' tables and also the 'Species' sofas, especially as one has just been acquired by SFMOMA, the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art opening this May.
Is there one product you admire and wish you had designed?
We are generally more admirers of the fine arts, but one product that maybe comes to mind is the 'Taraxacum' light by Achille Castiglioni for Flos, originally designed in 1960 and revisited in 1988.