FREDRIKSON STALLARD

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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.

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram.
fredriksonstallard.com

 

THEO WILLIAMS Another Brand

Acclaimed UK designer Theo Williams – formerly creative director of Habitat and head of design for John Lewis Home – has collaborated with manufacturer Qualita to launch his own furniture company Another Brand, the home of beautiful, no-nonsense pieces where quality is king

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

How did you get into the industry?
I started in graphics at Manchester University before switching to industrial design. There was a competition to design a radio, which I won. I used to live with a bunch of DJs so I took the idea of a wheel that spun through the stations from them. The next thing I was in Milan, needling people and designing products for studios such as Marco Zanuso, Prada and Alessi.

Describe your style in three words
Simple, honest, rational. I hate the phrase ‘form and function’ but it’s true. There should always be a reason for something being there. When I’m coming up with a new design, I start with a list of functions that the product must have before moving on to its finish and colour. That is what gives an object its design edge and transforms it into the thing of the moment. The shape doesn’t.

How did Another Brand come about?
After all these years working with lots of designers and big brands, I wanted to work directly with the manufacturer. We play to our strengths. They hold the stock and take care of distribution, while I come up with the designs. By partnering up with Qualita, we have created a new business for them and an opportunity for us. The idea is to work with a variety of manufacturers to create a cohesive collection of products.

ABOVE: Theo in his studio in Queen's Park, London
ABOVE RIGHT: The 'Tavolini Primo' tables are designed to tuck in together, each at varying heights and widths. Available in assorted colourways, the 'Primo' circular tables have a painted solid oak top and base and a natural oak leg, and are sold flat-packed in a kraft box
BELOW: The 'Tavolini Strada' set of three rectangular tables nests together in varying heights, lengths and widths and comes in five finishes, Light Grey, Petrol Blue, Yellow, Flame Red and Latte Oak

What was the idea behind the new Tavolini designs, launched at London Design Festival 2015?
The premise was to have something that you can pick up and walk away with in a lovely box – an impulse buy; the prices also reflect this. All the tables are different. There are oak, glass, metal and fabric tops… We’re a one-stop-shop for small tables.

How are the products made?
When it comes to designing for Another Brand, we consider the manufacturer’s capabilities. It all works backwards from what they can or cannot do. 

What’s coming up next? 
There’s going to be more Tavolini and we’re moving into upholstery and lighting. Theo Williams Studio has also been commissioned to co-design a capsule of accessories for McLaren Honda Formula 1 team in 2016 until further notice.

ABOVE FROM TOP: The circular 'Tavolini Primo' side table trios have a small footprint but are big on impact; In clear or smoked glass with oak legs, the 'Tavolini Ponte' coffee table has retro Italian styling
BELOW: Another Brand's earlier 'Cubo' range by Williams includes tables, storage and seating for dining/living rooms, office, bedroom or hall. Finishes, colours and sizes can be modified to suit you (we love this graphic blue). Qualita produces the furniture in London and Lithuania

What are your influences?
I quite like a grid. I’m drawn to things that are graphic-led and well thought out. I love proportions, posters and packaging books – things like that. A lot of my influences are from Italy. There was a certain formula to working there but it was liberating and instinctive. Also, back in the day there were no computers, so everything was drawn by hand. 

You spent 15 years working in Milan and two years in Amsterdam before moving back to London. How do the cities compare?
Milan was the exception to the rule. Everything was possible back then. The creative energy was enormous. For my first job as design director at NAVA Design, I didn’t speak any Italian and they just said: ‘Invent, think, create and see what we can do.’ They trusted designers to make things better. I remember aesthetics, taste and style being relative. It wasn’t judged on seasons or trends just good ideas and solutions. It was the attention to detail and perfection the Italians taught me; they were simply perfectionists at design, printing and production. I remember them fondly. They were my second family.

In Amsterdam I began working with a corporate structure for a couple of years, which was creatively driven but without the instinctive nature of Italy. Nobody really owned anything. It was inspiring for the first year but I missed the spontaneity and instinctive nature of the Italians.

London for me seems to have all of the above and more. After 17 years away from the UK I can feel an undercurrent entrepreneurial spirit, which I think defines British creativity, with a bit of wit thrown in. There’s a natural impulse where people are just getting on with it and this creates an organic point of view and personality. There is a tradition in the UK where designers are interested in the processes, but we have moved away from traditional manufacturing towards innovative creative solutions. Reacting to the market is one thing but the depth and choice of the colleges and mixed nationalities studying here creates this entrepreneurial spirit; if only they had more opportunity to make and not just design. A few more workshops and manufacturers would be useful. The ideas are plentiful. It’s the making of them that’s hard.

BELOW: We love the slender forms and bright weaves of Theo’s 'Tavolini Lago' occasional tables, which feature an innovative fabric top. Usually used for outdoor parasols, the Sunbrella material is red wine-proof...

Who are your design heroes?
Achille Castiglioni, James Irvine (who was a good friend of mine), Jasper Morrison, Marco Zanuso and companies such as Alessi. When you look at that Philippe Starck lemon squeezer, it’s ridiculous. It’s everything they don’t teach you at school. 

Where’s on your travel wish list?
I’ve got to go to Shanghai but I’m not sure that’s on my wish list as such. I’m taking my son to New York in April, which is exciting. I promised him we would do the Shard, the Eiffel Tower and next it’s the Empire State Building. 

If you weren't a designer, what might you have been?
A storyteller. I have piles of short stories that I have written, all based on my childhood. All of the stories are true.

ABOVE LEFT: Philippe Starck's iconic 'Juicy Salif' lemon squeezer for Alessi c 1990
BELOW: All of Another Brand's flat-pack 'Tavolini' tables come beautifully packaged in a set of three

Is there anything you wish you had designed?
I’ve always wanted to build a brand from the bottom up, which is what I’m doing now. 

What’s your social media of choice?
I like Instagram the best. I don’t do selfies on the beach but, instead, use it for things I see and love.
anotherbrand.co.uk; theowilliams.com