27 January 2010

Last week London art directors Will Hudson and Alex Bec launched their fourth annual show titled If You Could Collaborate. The show featured 33 pairings of designers and artists at A Foundation Gallery, all who were given 12 months to produce across disciplinary borders. Collaboration seems to be one of those methods that for me, seemingly for the RCA, is divinely attractive. I am finding in my recent attempts that it is not always magical and I think I brought a little screen of skepticism with me when seeing this work, which for the most part diminished after considering the different approaches. Certain pieces in here seem holistic in concept, material usage, and aesthetic; Others are perfect specimens of two ideas, two ways of working that form visible hybrids of styles. Having seen the gamut of approaches I found some that were logical, expected, and others that had less refined outcomes. Either way- it seemed like the point, whichever side of the fence they landed on. This show had no shortage of conceptual depth or eye candy- definitely looking forward to next years!

There is an excellent catalog available here. Below are some images and links to both sides of the collaborations. Project descriptions where quoted are taken from the If You Could website:

Praline + The Model Shop:

“Praline have been creating brilliant design solutions for many years, from publications and branding, to websites and exhibitions. Always looking to add humour and clarity to their work, they’re not put off by the size of a project, working with both large organisations and smaller outfits, including esteemed clients such as the Pompidou Centre and Tate Modern. After meeting The Model Shop of architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, through a previous commission they decided they’d like to extend their working relationship a little further. Ending up with a new font, and physical scale models interpreting its shapes.”

Praline and The Model Shop


Ian Wright + Riitta Ikonen

Ian Wright and Riitta Ikonen

Detail of Helmet

Ian Wright and Riitta Ikonen

Max Lamb + Gemma Holt

I first saw some of Max Lamb’s work at the Johnson Trading Gallery in NYC. It happened to be a week before I was moving to London to attend the RCA and ended up finding an adjunct show in Hoxton with more of his work. I felt the piece that Gemma and Max created was an alternative interpretation to the collaborative theme. More so, it considered the circumstance of the show and took the idea of collaboration as a way of doing something site specific rather than an amalgamation of professions. Besides- herringbone is the new houndstooth.

Max Lamb and Gemma Holt

Craig Ward + Sean Freeman + Alison Carmichael

Craig Ward, Sean Freeman & Alison Carmichael

Fred Butler + No Days Off

“A well-loved member of the fashion industry, Fred is a truly influential creative force. Known for making beautiful props and accessories, there’s no more solid proof of her class than knowing she’s worked on commissions for the likes of Vogue, i-D, Dazed & Confused, MTV and Selfridges as well as her own personal collections. With design studio No Days Off, she is launching the Eight Days A Week campaign, petitioning for a little bit extra time….”

Fred Butler & No Days Off

Karl Brandin + And Beyond

“Karl Grandin is a creative who is difficult to shoehorn. You may find him working as one half of design team Vår, as co-founder of fashion label Cheap Monday, or as a successful freelance illustrator. What you won’t find is him producing a bad piece of work. A varied portfolio, which is infused with a swagger of someone with an inherent desire to create.

By collecting familiar elements from flags, detaching them from their sources and putting them back together in new combinations, he and Dutch fashion designers And Beyond have created a new world in the form of an oversized flag.”

Karl Brandin & And Beyond

Marion Deuchars + Margaret Calvert

Marion Deuchars & Margaret Calvert

Rob Ryan and Michael Marriot

“There are a thousand words we could use to describe Rob Ryan’s work, and all of them are superlatives. Hyperbole is something we usually try and steer away from when describing artwork, but it’s tough to do Rob’s work enough justice without it. A combination of heartfelt sentiments, both beautifully depicted and exquisitely cut, confirm you’re in the hands of a true great when presented with a Rob Ryan piece.

Given a canvas to execute his work by Michael Marriott in the form of a flatpack rocking chair, the duo have produced a piece of furniture I’m sure lots of people will want to get their hands on.”

Rob Ryan and Michael Marriot

Job Wouters + Roel Wouters

Job Wouters & Roel Wouters

BCMH + Smith & Wightman

This was one of my favorite pieces in the show. The team created currencies based on production and material cost. I love the idea of objects being tactilely/physically representative of their value and not just conceptually so.

BCMH + Smith & Wightman