Artist studio: Fredrikson Stallard – Culture

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Caiti Grove visits design duo Fredrikson Stallard at their studio in Farringdon

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Artist studio: Fredrikson Stallard

Patrik Fredrikson gestures towards a sculpted bust on a sideboard in the flat above the communal studio he shares with Ian Stallard. The face is smeared with a gooey mess, the head is now an unnamed man. First as a couple and for many years as a design duo, Ian and Patrik make furniture, art and ceramics together under the name Fredrikson Stallard.

Their work follows a blurred line between art and design. Two bookend lamps a large gray sofa, both crafted in clay; they are huge and ornate, but messy too, as if someone had just dug them out with pressed, impatient fingers. “You just want to freeze this moment,” Ian insists. “That’s why we want clay because it’s so immediate.”

In the middle of their studio, a dark purple rock glistens with a velvety sheen. It’s sculptural and mysterious, like a meteor or a piece of scenery from a sci-fi movie. But it’s not a sculpture, or rather not just a sculpture – it’s also a surprisingly soft sofa. Other creations include a coffee table with legs that unscrew, its top so intriguing it can be hung like a work of art.

Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard in their studio

On the wall, a huge piece of cardboard bends into a sculptural knot, painted with a dark red veneer. “It’s one of the materials we like to use,” says Ian. ‘It’s beautifully expressive; the cartoons are like different brushstrokes; the dense cardboards bend in a very angular, masculine way, while other cards have a smoother flow. We love the dichotomy between a material you see lying around on the street and then we cast it in bronze or coat it in these rich glazes to add permanence and value – the relationship between precious and disposable.

“We trained ourselves to create for the masses,” says Patrik, recalling their artistic training at Central Saint Martins. “Everything had to be based on cost, democratic pricing was really important. But we felt it wasn’t us, we were prostituting ourselves for a cause that was taught to us. These days Patrik and Ian are bold in their work which will be unaffordable for some. “We use expensive techniques and craftsmen, but our parts are built to last and can be repaired. Because it has value, it’s not going to be thrown away – it can be passed on and have resale value.

The artistic duo met in 1995, when Ian was studying ceramics and Patrik industrial design. After graduation, they maintained separate studios for several years. The opportunity arose to present a show together. “It was still a lot Ian and I as separate entities,” says Patrik, “but as soon as we took a step back, we realized it was working.” A few years later, they team up.

“It’s something cyclical,” says Patrik of the fusion of art and design. “If you look at fine art and 18th century furniture, we are on equal footing. We greatly admire modernism, but it has created a gap between art and design. Together, these artists have crossed this chasm with spectacular and lasting results.

See more work by Fredrikson Stallard at fredriksonstallard.com

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