Riya Patel, curator at the Aram Gallery, interviews Studio Furthermore about their current show, REPLICA.
Iain and Marina (Studio Furthermore) have been involved in group shows at the gallery a couple of times, but their REPLICA collection gave an opportunity to use the whole space for a presentation.
The collection of furniture, lighting and objects is made using unique methods developed by the studio, which they refer to as the ‘lost foam’ processes.
For the ceramic pieces, each part is carefully handcrafted out of foam, which during the process, burns away in the kiln leaving behind a one-of-a-kind terracotta copy, or replica. For the aluminium works, molten alloy is poured onto the foam original which vaporizes, leaving behind a metallic copy.
I was fascinated by the otherworldly looks of these objects – like artefacts or fragments of meteorite, they look ancient and futuristic at the same time.
I also love the presentation of the collection. The designers have made the gallery look like an archaeological dig, with treasured items resting on particle-board transport cases.
The technique behind the REPLICA collection is quite experimental.
How quickly could you move from tests to finished pieces?
We developed a technique with porcelain foam last year, so applying it to other kinds of ceramic, such as terracotta, was more about taking care of the differences in the two ceramic mediums. The metal process works quite differently, and we had to start from the beginning. Once we had samples and tests, the collection took about two months over the summer to realize.
What’s different about The Aram Gallery show from the previous showing at London Design Festival?
Our LDF show was in a disused stable in a South Kensington Mews, beautiful if not unloved. Whereas Aram is a dreamy designated show space.
Since there was more space to work with, and we had a lot of the pieces,
we wanted to show more of the materiality and experiments. So there are three areas exploring the essence and feeling of terracotta, aluminium and poly foam.
What is next for the process? Will you continue to make new objects with the method?
These processes have been exciting to experiment with and we have received a fantastic response. There are always many avenues to try so
I guess there could be more objects. We have been working with Pulpo to develop a production variant also. Otherwise, we will continue to work with many materials and processes…
so expect the unexpected as Inspector Clouzot would say!
Louis poulsen, Skandium
A few weeks ago I worked as the official photographer for the Brompton Design District during the London Design Festival.
This is always one for the most exciting assignments of the year, as I get to visit all the shows in one or two days and to catch up with designers and curators I’ve worked with before, or those whose work I get to photograph year after year at LDF, like Martino Gamper, Merel Karhof and Marc Trotereau, Ineke Hans, whose work I had photographed at the Aram Gallery just a week earlier, Max Frommeld, Bethan Laura Wood, Faye Toogood or Studio Ilse and I love seeing their work evolve from a year to another.
Peter Pilotto Townhouse
It also is an incredible race-against-the-clock kind of challenge every year: for this edition I had to shoot over 30 exhibitions spread out across South Kensington in a day, sometimes literally running from one to the next and praying that the few last ones I’d visit would wait for past their official closure time as the night was drawing in (so glad they did!). I could easily have spent a few hours shooting some of them, trying out more angles, taking time to understand the work to photograph it in the most relevant way etc, but that taught me a lesson in terms of prioritising!
I then returned home to enjoy a cup of tea and rest.
Well not at all actually.
The rest of the night was spent in the studio editing through a few thousand images so that they’d be in Dropbox by the early hours, ready to be sent to press by anyone who needed them. Sometimes everything happens so fast in the day that it’s not until I edit the pictures that I can fully appreciate the work and read (a bit) about it, so however exhausted I am by then this is also a phase I very much enjoy it treats me to a rewind of the best shows and images of the day.
Faye Toogood and friends
Last week I visited and shot the new Prototypes and Experiments show at the Aram Gallery.
I always feel lucky to be able to spend a few hours with the work and to observe the relation from one piece to another within my frame. In this particular case it was also a rare chance to discover the thinking process and multiple iterations behind projects I had seen in their finished form a few months earlier during the London Design Festival.
I asked Riya Patel, curator at the Aram Gallery, if she could share with us her vision for the 9th edition of this exhibition series.
Our ongoing exhibition series Prototypes and Experiments has a simple premise, and I think that’s what makes it so strong. Roughly once a year we ask a range of designers and architects to display the process behind a chosen project: whether old, new, never published or still in the works.
For young designers, it’s a chance to see the rough, messy parts of design that never usually get shown. Established designers also find it interesting to see how other studios think and develop ideas. We always aim for a diverse group of participants in terms of experience: from designers who just graduated this summer to established studios who work within their own niche in design. For the participants, presenting process is itself a design exercise – a chance to revisit the story of a project, or pause and reflect on the direction of the studio.
As curator, as it gives me a good excuse to nose around my favourite designers’ studios. I asked a series of architects to get involved in this edition, including Sam Jacob who works in such a fascinating and imaginative way. We talked about representation and presenting a single drawing, but ended up with an ensemble that represents the multi-faceted nature of his work more effectively. The exhibit has clay casts of bricks and basketballs, copies of watercolour landscapes by Prince Charles that have been doctored with looming black shapes, and a part model and drawing of the studio’s work for the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Prototypes & Experiments is at The Aram Gallery until 19 August
The super talented Hattie Fox, founder of That Flower Shop Studio on Hoxton Street, who I recently photographed for Long & Waterson, read her interview here!
In the past year I’ve had numerous occasions to shoot for The Collective/Old Oak co-living space at different stages of its development, and I remember feeling there was something strangely familiar about these desks when I shot them. And then as I was editing the images it hit me; they were by the open source furniture design company Opendesk, which I had discovered a few months before at the Brompton District during the London Design Festival and then again at the Aram Gallery in Covent Garden.