Collectible Contemporary Design II: Fredrikson Stallard, the Rock Stars of the Collectible Design World

Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard
Antarctica, 2017
Torch, 2017
Antarctica Gueridon, 2017
Scriptus Mirror, 2017
Scriptus Shelves, 2017
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CoBo Social Market News Reports

TEXT: Dr. Daniella Ohad
IMAGES: Courtesy of David Gill Gallery and the designers

If you see them walking in the edgy district of SoHo, their favorite part of London, wearing chic all-black, you may think that they are stylish models, or celebrated movie stars, or perhaps urbane rock stars. But Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard, the talents behind the design duo Fredrikson Stallard are designers. They are the rock stars of the collectible design world.

 

Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard

 

They had met in college when studying at Central Saint Martins, the famed design and art school, established in the late 19th century by Arts and Crafts pioneer William Richard Lethaby. London-born Stallard attended the department of ceramics and Swedish Fredrikson was trained to become an industrial designer. They met there, they became life partners, and in 1995, founded their atelier. The year 2006 came to mark the turning point in their career, when the two were discovered by David Gill, the successful dealer, who is known for his extraordinary ability to detect design talents and to bring them to the forefront of the world’s stage. “Their work,” he told me, “has a signature of artists exploring materials and form outside the design language. For the occasion of their new solo exhibition at David Gill Gallery, I went to visit them in the Clerkenwell district of London.

 

Antarctica, 2017

 

They turned a former printing shop, an expansive two-story old building into their home, office, and studio. Here, you can best understand the power of their furniture to transform spaces, to bring soul and strong personality to the interior. Their objects look so well together at their home, as they naturally integrated within the stunning interior, that you want to have them all. Just like their work, everything about their home is cutting edge, avant-garde, and contemporary. The extraordinary quality of their objects has brought them into the prestigious list of designers approached by some of the world’s most celebrated interior decorators. One of them is the widely-published New-York-based decorator Frank de Biasi who, in his eternal quest for ‘cool’ objects for his remarkable interiors, discovered them about a decade ago. Today, de Biasi told me, he aims to include at least one object by Fredrikson Stallard in all of his projects because, to him, they are “functional, sculptural, and special.”

 

Torch, 2017

 

While their work stands on the line between the refined and the rough; between the digital and the traditional; between the fresh and the spectacular; merging inexpensive materials into fantastic forms, I would like to suggest that their design is also ‘British,’ carrying the DNA of ‘British’ design to new horizons. The British design movement emerged in London with the advent of the provocative movement of Punk in the late 70s. Those who promoted the new protest style, such as impresario Malcolm McLaren and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood had come to introduce a fresh and seductive sprit to British culture, design which was charged with a sense of chaos and rebellion, characters which have since become synonymous with contemporary British design. Fredrikson and Stallard voice that very attitude. Thus, although they have exhibited across the globe, and their furniture and art can be found in homes and collections from Milan to New York, from Shanghai to San Francisco, it really couldn’t have happened anywhere else, but in London. Just like Punk design, theirs manifests the experimental and the unconventional, always opulent, always dramatic, and totally original.

 

Antarctica Gueridon, 2017

 

I clearly remember the first time I was introduced to Fredrikson Stallard. It was with a sofa in forest green carved of foam, exhibited by David Gill at Design Miami/ 2006. I was not surprised to see it shortly after at the Victoria & Albert Museum as a part of recent acquisitions of contemporary design, because there was something visionary, powerful, and moving about it, and I immediately felt that it has a museum quality to it, that it represents the moment. Working with David Gill has since enabled Fredrikson and Stallard to develop their creative energy, to achieve complex projects, and ultimately, to substantiate their ambitious ideas.

 

Scriptus Mirror, 2017

 

As suggested in my introductory article on collectible contemporary design in this series, published here last month, it is ought to be defined by the artistic and innovative combination of digital craftsmanship with handcraftsmanship. “This is where they excel,” told me design scholar and curator Glenn Adamson, who is in the process of writing the first monograph about the duo, surveying their own work, and also presenting it as a case study of 21st century design. “Either through completely analogue techniques, or hybrid processes in which digital tools and handcraft are seamlessly combined,” Adamson said when I asked him to define their oeuvre, “they make objects of assertive physicality that feel entirely contemporary.”

 

Scriptus Shelves, 2017

 

There is a strong sense of materiality and performance to their work, whether it is jewelry for Atelier Swarovski, perfume bottle for Brioni, mirrors for the boutique of Gieves & Hawkes, or furniture for David Gill, the material always dominates and has a central role in the narrative of the object. Fredrikson and Stallard approach the material in a fresh and unexpected way and with an intense power. They crumple metals, they carve foam, and they break glass.

For the new solo exhibition at David Gill, opening this week and entitled Intuitive Gestures, the two created pieces of clear acrylic, which look as if they were hacked from enormous blocks of ice; a shelving unit in bronze, one of their favorite materials, which draws the inspiration from hand-drawn calligraphy lines; table lamps in white alabaster that demonstrates the character of the raw mineral; a desk with a piece of crashed sheet metal inserted in it. All of these objects bring you into a world of fantasy, making you understand that 21st-century furniture has its own narrative, or in the words of David Gill when describing the objects on show “epic.”

 

Intuitive Gestures
13 – 28 September 2017
David Gill Gallery

 

 


Dr. Daniella Ohad is a design historian, educator, writer, and tastemaker, who received her Ph.D. degree from the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture. For the past two decades, she has been committed to education in design history and theory, history of the interior, material culture, and the decorative arts, with a special expertise in modern and contemporary design culture. She has taught in some of the world’s leading art institutions, and currently leads “Collecting Design: History, Collections, Highlights, the only program on collecting design at the New York School of Interior Design. Her articles and critiques have been published in magazines and peer-review journals, and she is a moderator in various design events across the globe. Dr. Ohad has been a member in various acquisition committees in NYC museums, and her blog Daniella on Design attracts hundreds of thousands of readers weekly. She lives and works in New York City.

 

 
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