Design duo Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard are renowned for transforming materials into unusual and interesting pieces using a combination of digital and craft processes. Described as ‘leading exponents of British avant-garde design’, they have visited Malta to participate in a series of conversations organised as part of MICAS (Malta International Contemporary Art Space). HOMEWORKS caught up with them…
How did your collaboration begin?
Patrik: We met at the bar at Central St Martins [the art and design college in London]. I was doing design and Ian was doing ceramics. Most of our ideas happened around the café. At the time Patrik worked in an architect’s office. At a certain point, we just realised that we shared the same ‘language’.
Ian: There’s an organic process that was developed when we started working together; we share the same ethos related to sustainability and dedication for instance. Our design education brought us together. Our practice was set up to challenge the notions of modernism.
What inspires you?
Ian: There’s a journey where we instinctively know… it can come from words. Our ideas come from conversations. In Patrik’s case, it’s natural for him to sketch, and for me to make. We find inspiration in ‘nature’. But not in the way people think of nature. It could be in other artistic practices, such as contemporary dance, fashion, it could be design, or simply in conversation. We travel, we watch many ballets, visit galleries, powerful performances, we search for the core. Then we gradually formulate things together, something that slowly coagulates.
How do you work?
Ian: Some of the strongest partnerships in design and art were ‘couples’, the kind of affinity that siblings often have. We’re supportive of one another, yet simultaneously critical, especially about the process. We may produce fewer items and objects but more quality pieces.
Patrik: In fact, I often step back from a project. We refuse to put ourselves in a box and define ourselves as architects or designers. We’ve been obsessed with the notions of functionality, as well as working with something historical and then doing something else with it. Our work involves a lot of experimentation. The editing process is very hard; what’s really important is going into the studio and ‘doing’.
Ian: The things that we do are often impossible to draw or replicate – they just have to be made. There’s an energy in creating, and making use of that power process. Making an object feel effortless is, perhaps, the most difficult to achieve.
Patrik: Ours is also a quest for intense energy and expressiveness. We often take objects and digitise them; we blow them up in size to change the perception of a piece. A small maquette, blown up in scale almost takes on the semblance of architecture.
Which are your hero pieces?
The 2007 Pyrenees Sofa, where, rather than using foam, we carved out of it. Over the years, we’ve gone back to it, taking it to crazy heights, almost making it unusable; it’s interesting when viewed as a sculpture. You can’t think of it as a sofa, but rather as an artistic object. It’s an invented inspiration taken from sofas, where history repeats itself, but it’s what’s inside that’s forming it. We’re moving further and further away from ‘repeating’ objects.
Then, we’d have to mention the Species sofa, the Atlantic Dining Table, and the Antarctica pieces. There’s a linearity in our work, where one body of work breathes into the next. The ones we have highlighted are the main pieces within the bodies of work, and they form the basis of our work.
Have you been to Malta before?
Ian: We’ve been to Malta on several occasions. Malta is becoming so much bigger, and more important. It’s such an unusual place, unlike anywhere else. And contemporary art works really well against this backdrop, in this context.
Patrik: I feel at home here. It’s incredibly dramatic and hardly a beach resort. And architecture should be equally dramatic, it should follow/complement the context.