MARTYN THOMPSON

Prince st MT portrait 2 06.2016.jpg

Australian photographer Martyn Thompson is well known for his enigmatic imagery which has appeared in style bibles including Elle Decoration, Vogue and Architectural Digest. Now a native New Yorker, he has turned his eye to designing esoteric fabrics for the home. We go behind the lens to see what makes him tick...

BY DEE IVA

What prompted you to start designing textiles?
I’ve always loved textiles. Thirty years ago I was painting fabrics, making them into clothes and selling them in a small shop in Sydney. I began taking pictures of them and my photography career was born out of that – it took over. So coming back to fabric isn't a total stretch. I had started exploring new ways to reproduce my photos and discovered the digitised jacquard loom. Although a little suspicious of the first results I soon fell in love – there’s a depth to the tapestry-like weave that speaks to the tactility I search for in my photos. I realised the potential for interior fabrics and began to develop the idea.

Tell us about your new 'Rock Pool' textile collection.
I was in Limeni on the Mani Peninsula of Greece on an editorial assignment. Standing at the end of a jetty staring at the rocks in the water below, I saw all these colours – amazing – like a painter's palette – dancing on the surface. I took a small cart load of photos and these became the basis for the 'Rock Pool' collection.

ABOVE AND ABOVE RIGHT: Martyn Thompson in his Manhattan studio
BELOW FROM TOP: Thompson's watery 'Rock Pool' design can be used to upholster walls as well as furniture. The chair is covered in a mix of 'Whitewash' and 'Painted Galaxy'; A range of Thompson's earlier designs including 'The Accidental Expressionist' and 'Melting' are used to cover these cushions; 'Ripple' from the 'Rock Pool' collection covers the wall, the small sofa is upholstered in 'Blotch' from the 'Accidental Expressionist' collection

Does your photography inform your designs?
It’s very literally an extension of it. Each of the fabrics begins as one of my photographs before we edit and develop the image into a repeat pattern. My photography has always been very much about a certain quality of light and a particular muted colour palette. Happily these qualities translate beautifully to the jacquard loom process.

ABOVE: The 'Green Buterflie' scarf from Martyn Thompson's first accessories collection is printed on silk and uses designs from his interiors collections

We hear you were quite the club kid in the Eighties…
Ahhh... that was the early Eighties. A lifestyle choice that didn't bode well for my university studies! I always loved dressing up and was a real show off on the dance floor. I started making my clothes when I was quite young and was totally enamoured of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren. I didn't really think anything could get better than New Romanticism, but when their Buffalo Girls collection came out I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It’s still my fave fashion moment ever. I guess music was my first great love – and I admired performers like Siouxsie and the Banshees as much for how they looked as for their sound – though the music was fabulous too of course.

That period was an incredibly creative time, is there anyone who particularly inspired you?
There was a general spirit of getting on with stuff to just do it. For me, a young queer kid, this felt like a time outside of boundaries and prejudice. Boy George, Marilyn, Jimmy Somerville and other 'out' singers were a total inspiration. Homosexuality was still illegal where I grew up and I think these people gave me permission to exist.

What are your favourite design hotspots in the Big Apple?
The Future Perfect design store (below left) – David Alhadeff is a total advocate of what is new and is helping many new designers build their careers. I’ve always really admired Paula Rubinstein for her quirky take on vintage objects and textiles. Other favourites are Federico de Vera on Crosby Street – he has a really beautiful vision – and I love the new Oliver Gustav shop on Howard Street (below right).

Do you have any design heroes?
Yes plenty… to name a few, Gio Ponti, Mariano Fortuny, Vivienne Westwood, Susie Cooper.

Where's on your travel wish list and why?
Well, I'm crazy about Iceland. I love that there is still a sense of the unexplored and the impenetrable. It’s so ancient looking and can get really remote, really fast and you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere with no one – not a sensation that's commonly achieved where I live in Manhattan!

What's your social media of choice?
I have an Instagram account but I'm disappointed that it has become such a commercial medium. I think that Tumblr can be really beautiful, especially the 'pin up' board format – that's my favourite.
martynthompsonstudio.com 

Pictures: Lauren Coleman (The Future Perfect)

MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES

Cypriot-born, London-based designer Michael Anastassiades is known for his pared back aesthetic and sculptural, one-of-a-kind lighting. A former Royal College of Art and Imperial College graduate, his perfectly poised designs use simple geometric shapes that complement both contemporary interiors and elegant homes

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

How would you describe your work and philosophy?
‘Reduced’ is how I would sum it up. I don’t like to use the word 'minimal' because I feel that is misunderstood in terms of design. What I’m looking for is simplicity. I like to remove excess information from the visual language of the object to distill it to a point where actually, what I decide to give it, is the bare minimum. I believe this is really important in communicating the idea behind an object.

Tell us about your new products for Italian lighting firm Flos. 
The ideas were different for each one. In the case of 'Captain Flint', it was about trying to make a light that works in a doorway. On the one hand, it can be a reading light next to a sofa, but by simply changing the direction you have an uplighter for a more ambient atmosphere, or you can even direct the spot against a wall or specific object. On a practical level, it is a light that works in all sorts of scenarios. The inspiration plays on the idea of balance. The cone balances on its tip, on a stick, which is an extension of the collection of the 'IC' light.

ABOVE: Michael Anastassiades with his 'String Light Cone Head' pendant lights for Flos, inspired by electricity pylon power lines
ABOVE RIGHT AND BELOW: 'Captain Flint' can be rotated through 360 degrees. It comes in two finishes – brushed brass with a white Carrara marble base and anthracite with a black Marquinia marble base

What is your starting point?
In the case of my latest collection for Flos, I addressed the notion of balance. There is a sense of anxiety, almost. How is it possible? How can a cone balance on a stick? The practicalities of a design are subconscious. They are always there and you have to solve them at the end of the day.

What draws you to lighting?
Lighting for me is fascinating because it is special. It is not the same as any other product design. It has to work in two different scenarios: when it is on and when it is off, and this duality is very challenging. When it is off, you view it as an object and the space it occupies but suddenly, when the bulb is switched on, then it exists in an entirely different way. The way it interacts with other objects, in terms of casting shadows changes everything. Of course, light is a very beautiful and very poetic medium and that is what attracted me to it in the first place.

BELOW: Also for Flos, Anastassiades' spherical 'Extra' table lamp plays with balance, and comes in bronze, graphite and silver finishes; The 'Copycat' light is composed of two connecting spheres. The large illuminated globe is contrasted by a smaller one in polished aluminium, electroplated 24 carat gold, black nickel or copper

Which of your lighting designs are your favourites?
I live with very few objects in my home and so the things that I choose are carefully selected. In terms of my own designs, I like living with them but it tends to work on a rotational basis because I don’t have space for all of them. There are different reasons why I like something. Sometimes it is sentimental in the sense that it could be one of my early pieces of work. Sometimes it could be a reminder of an experience that I’ve had.

ABOVE: Another balancing act is pulled off by the 'IC' standard and table lamps in chrome and brushed brass

Beyond lighting, is there any new design territory you would like to tackle?
I am already working on furniture. I have a partnership with US brand Herman Miller that allows me to explore that world, however, lighting is really my passion, my preference. The collaboration with Flos is important. We started in 2011 and the first product launch was in 2013.

Who are your design heroes?
I have many. I wouldn’t say they were heroes. It’s too much load to bear, I think, to be a hero. For me, I like different designers in the same way that I like a lot of artists' work. I am more inspired by art than I am by design.

Photo by HIT1912/iStock / Getty Images

Where’s on your travel wish list?
Unfortunately, I only go to places where work takes me. There is very little time to explore other parts. Cyprus and Greece are special destinations when it comes to choosing places to rest but they don’t excite me like Tokyo, for example, which I find fascinating. I’ve been many times but I always like to go back.

What’s your social media of choice?
I am quite distant from it. I do use Facebook, and Instagram I find interesting, but all these things consume you in a way that I don’t really like. I like to get inspiration from observation instead. They are good tools to keep in touch with people but that is the best use I can think of for them.
michaelanastassiades.com  studiomichaelanastassiades.com

Pictures: Frank Huelsboemer, Giuseppe Brancato, Getty Images