Friday, 17 February 2017

The Bohemian Collective | An interview with Piet Hein Eek on IKEA's new JASSA collection.

JASSA floor cushion | 100% cotton. Designer: Paulin Machado. 

With Morocco only a couple of weeks away now, I've been seriously pining over vivid patterns, textures and traditional craftsmanship. I'm yearning for some new cultural products to fill my abode and my life with personality and pizazz. While I didn't think anything was going to quite cut it on the UK market, lo and behold I discovered the hotly anticipated JASSA collection from, drumroll please, those clever Swedes at IKEA.

Now let's be clear here, IKEA is one of the places I shop for furniture and I'm not ashamed to admit it. A low budget and rented accommodation makes them the perfect pit stop, especially when meatballs are involved. However, times are changing and IKEA is really focusing on their brand awareness, with collaborations with Tom Dixon and Hay in the pipeline and a collection with fashion designer, Katie Eary released earlier this year. The JASSA collection in particular caught my eye for its handcrafted techniques, unique outcomes and of course for the fact that the wonderful Piet Hein Eek is also involved in the design process. It really seems like a collection with a story and I'm not sure that's something IKEA have pulled off completely before, although perhaps the Ilse Crawford collection marked the start of this new venture.

JASSA sofa | £79 | Handmade by a skilled craftsman. Clear lacquered rattan. Designer: Iina Vuorivirta. 

Inspired by Indonesian and South East Asian design traditions, JASSA’s handmade products are all created out of natural raw materials. Think beautiful curved lines, natural textures and wow-inducing patterns - a bohemian vibe for the eclectic household. The team behind the designs include IKEA in-house designers Nike Karlsson, Iina Vuorivirta and Paulin Machado, as well as the previously mentioned Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek, all guided and coordinated by Karin Gustavsson. Each designer has inputted a little something to the collection, meaning there's diversity amongst the pieces but they all come together to bring about a fun, free-spirited range of products. They’re about kicking back and having fun, while bringing a little spontaneity into your household via a vivacious floor cushion or a completely unique lounger.

I caught up with Piet to ask a few questions about the new collection and decipher exactly the process behind this new journey for the Swedish brand.

JASSA lounger | £87 | Handmade by skilled craftspeople, which makes every product unique. Clear lacquered rattan. Designer: Piet Hein Eek

Having designed for a multitude of companies as well as your own studio previously, did you have to change your approach to designing at all or was the process for IKEA exactly the same?

In fact this wasn't necessary. IKEA, like we do to, is a company which takes care of the whole process from design until the consumer. The only differences were the volumes and size of the two companies. If I were make something with 1% chance of a problem, it’s most likely that nothing will happen, but if IKEA were to experience a 1% chance of a problem, then they need to take it very seriously. The quantities are bigger so the developing costs are relatively low (which is more relaxed) but the standards, on many aspects of production such as safety and durability, are higher – IKEA needs to be certain that everything is OK.

How did the creative process work with the rest of the IKEA design team? Was it an experimental curation of ideas or a more structured brainstorm?

It was an unstructured process. The only thing we did was choose and then go on and choose again until the collection was complete. The process was very dynamic and it didn't feel as if there were rules, except common sense inspired by practice from both sides. In fact the collection was designed on the spot in Indonesia; they were not able to produce the design I made so I had to make new designs inspired by the materials and skills available – which is very similar to the way usually work anyway!

JASSA easy chair | Handmade by skilled craftspeople, which makes every product unique. Clear lacquered rattan and 100% polyester. Designer: Nike Karlsson. 

The collection gives off quite a communal vibe with the low chairs, floor cushions and daybed. Do you think this is representative of how you all came together as designers, each giving your own take on a bohemian lifestyle?

Karin Gustavsson, the Creative Leader for the collection, selected the designers for the project and the brief we had made this process very simple. Everybody was happy to do what was asked of them and because of Karin, everything fitted together perfectly. 

You've worked with reclaimed wood and materials a lot in the past. Can you tell us about how you've incorporated this into the JASSA collection?

As mentioned, materials and skills are most of the time the inspiration for my designs so when given the opportunity to work with those materials and crafts it seemed to be the perfect assignment for me.

Sustainability is obviously a key part of your design ethos. How did you become interested in this aspect of design and how important do you think it is for other brands/designers to take note?

The reason I love working with natural and sustainable materials is because they give you the opportunity to think about the how materials looked in the past but at the same time you can think about how it will be in the future. Past and future are represented in my work. In fact my designs are not only focused on making something new but instead I try to create from what’s available, what's already there, and create something new from that. The subtle difference is that if a designer or creative person only focuses on the ‘new’, it’s then a challenge to make the world realise those ‘new’ ideas afterwards - I think it’s more respectful to take the world and its actual needs as the starting point.

JASSA plate | £3.50 | Hand-painted by a skilled craftsman. Stoneware. Designer: Iina Vuorivirta

The JASSA collection shows a strong sense of narrative and exploration of traditional craft techniques, not traditionally associated with IKEA. Do you think the collection marks the start of a new era for the team and can we expect to see the same with your future contributions to IKEA collections?

The JASSA collection is the perfect first step-up, ahead of the next collection I’ve collaborated with IKEA on, that will hopefully launch in spring 2018. In this collection the theme will be ‘hand-made’. Most of the products are designed in a way that they appear to be hand-made (the models and drawings actually are). Although the quantities are high the products feel gentle and each one special. This feeling is similar to the JASSA collection. I hope I'll be able to design more for IKEA in the coming years. But first, let’s see how the designs and the JASSA collection is received; to me JASSA is full of character and I hope everyone sees that.

And on that note, I couldn't agree more. Characterful is the perfect adjective for the range and it's is certainly something I'll be investing in for my own bohemian abode. The JASSA collection is due to drop in stores and online in March with prices starting from a very reasonable £3 for those amazing plates and around £39 for an armchair-amazing! Yes those floor cushions and that day bed are on also my list. What do you think of the collection. What's on your wishlist?


Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Girls that Rock | Vive Le Feminisme

1 // 10 Things I Hate About You Print by Daisy Emerson, £50. 2 // Riposte Magazine Issue #7, £10.
3 // GIRLS Mug by We Are Here Coffee, £7. 4 // Girls Pennant Pin by Tuesday Bassen, £8. 5 // Vive le Feminisme Print by People I've Loved, £25. 
6 // Don't be a Dick Pin by Veronica Dearly, £6. 7 // Female Artist Print by Stephanie K Kane, £60. 8 // Sally Print by Lynnie Zulu, £30. 
9 // Girl Power A5 Print by Zabby Allen, £6. 10 // Naked Lady Pin by CoucouSuzette, £9.66.

I've been feeling just a little good about being a female recently. Not that I ever don't feel good about being me, boobs are much prettier than willies, aren't they? Seeing the ladies out in force for the Women's March filled me with joy and although I couldn't make it myself (for which I feel truly awful, guilty and slightly hypocritical), I'd like to think I can live vicariously through the spirit of the wonderful babes that did make it down to show the world who truly runs the world.

I've seen so much about talk about whether bloggers should be sharing their opinions on the world's current affairs and for a while I wondered about whether my own voice would be valued. It's a tricky subject, but actually I'm not going to turn a blind eye to something I believe in - that's how Hitler got away with that shit for so long. I believe in fighting for diversity and culture and women's rights, so why shouldn't I be able to shout about it? Anyone who disagrees on not working for the greater good, isn't a person I want around me, although I'm always happy for a considered and thoughtful discussion - my thirteen year old brother will quite happily tell you so. 

I have so much admiration for the creatives that make their voice heard on a daily basis, while daring to face the backlash of some pretty hardcore people. These are the wonder women that spread hope, ignite change and make it all look pretty at the same time. It's not about who can shout the loudest, but instead who can make a difference subtly, whether that be via an all-female exhibition à la Skull and Heart or a daily does of witty social content via Veronica Dearly - it all contributes to making a difference. I've compiled some of my favourite products above that we should ALL be wearing / reading / hanging on our walls. Get the bloody hell on it.

(Note: it's not just the lasses but I've highlighted them for the purpose of this post. I bloody love men too. See my feature on Scott Patt for reassurance. Jean Jullien is also making his mark pretty damn well).

For more girls who rock, why not check out babin' babe Natasha's Pinterest board on female creatives, you never know, you might even spot me!


Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Super Abstract | The super quick interview.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of introducing you to the Super Abstract ladies as part of my 'Six Amazing Instagram accounts to follow now' post. While researching the girls, I came across their store, fell in love even more and quickly nabbed myself a set of their insanely lovely risograph prints. While frantically noting that I needed to feature these babes even more on the blog, I waited patiently for my prints to arrive, only to learn that they had sent me two sets to say thank you for the Instagram lovin' - it's a rare occurrence but something I always really appreciate. 

The collective, run by graphic designers Julia de Blaauw and Irene Stoop, focuses on a series of daily abstractions pushed out on Instagram, consisting of bold colours and geometric elements. A beautifully vivid feed draws influences from the Memphis movement, while also offering a modern take on the simple shapes observed in the Bauhaus era. The risograph series, currently available on both their tictail and Department Store, is a culmination of bright colour ways and a basic grid structure. The graphics are simple yet work together effortlessly, making them the perfect addition to break up a gallery wall or simply just as a statement piece in a minimalist home.

Wanting to know more about the designers and their process, I had a quick chat with Julia and Irene to talk circles or squares, inspirations and what's next for the dynamic duo.

Would you say that your designs are experimental or do you think beforehand about they type of image you are going to produce?

J: Very experimental! Sometimes we’re just in the mood for triangles, polkadots or pink, or we want to try out some new colour combinations. Most of the abstractions on Instagram are made in less than 30 minutes. When it takes more time to create an abstraction it feels like less of an intuitive experiment.

I: The posts on Instagram are purely experimental. It’s a good practice in design and composition for us to post daily. When we’re designing a print series on the other hand we think upfront what kind of abstractions we want to use and look good on print. 

What gets you in the mood for being creative? 

I: Trying out new colour combinations gets me so super creative. My daily job as a Graphic Designer at an agency is quite commercial. Often (after work) I feel the need to be more artistic and free in my work. 

J: To be surrounded in Amsterdam by pretty places, colours and art gives me a lot of inspiration. It’s also important for me to discover new work, styles and see as much art as possible. Constantly finding new styles and techniques keeps me going. 

Can you name your biggest inspirations? 

We both love the work of designers: Ricardo Leite (NL), Atelier Raphael Garner (FR), Mainstudio (NL), Team Thursday (NL), Linda Linko (FIN), Marcello Velho (USA), Spechtstudio (BE). 

What's the colour that's really exciting you for 2017? 

I: Beige; the nude, natural, yellowish kind. 

J: I love bright colours. That’s great about techniques as riso printing or silkscreening: the colours are super bright, nothing like on your digital screen. I’m going to choose jungle green for 2017. 

Circles or squares? 

I: Circles, because they’re more fluent and easier to create good compositions with. 

J: I can’t choose. I remember this was a question once at school and I panicked because I felt sorry for the squares if I chose the circles. Still feel this way, love them equally. 

If you could see a Super Abstract pattern anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I: Somewhere in the public space. As long as it has some kind of value for people in their daily lives, instead of just being decorative. Some super abstract traffic signs for example would be great.

J: I would like to cheer up the most boring or unappreciated places in the world. Like office buildings, underground stations, deserted area’s or failed public squares. Maybe to give them more value or to just bring them some super abstract vibes.

Can you give me three Instagram accounts that we should all be following?

Atelier Raphael Garnier, Plain Pins, Marta Veludo.

Find out more about the girls by following them on Instagram and purchasing their prints. What's your verdict on these super abstract prints? Oh, and the most important question of the day, circles or squares?

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