Tell us a bit about your new offices in Holborn.
Ian & Patrik: It’s a sprawling building, where Fagan’s lair was set and contains a 2500sq ft. entrance and 3, 000sq ft. office, workshop, and apartment. We are increasingly taking control of other parts, and in the last couple of weeks have expanded by another 4,000sq ft. It’s very much a space we want to share, with other creative people and performance artists to be able show their work, in a non-commercial way.
Born: Patrik Fredrik, Sweden (1968), Ian Stallard, United Kingdom, (1973)
Graduating from Central St. Martins, they set up studio in 1995 and have been represented by David Gill Gallery since 2005. Their limited edition work has been bough by the V&A, the French National Art Collection, and shown at the Design Museum in London, MOMA and the Museum of Art and Design in New York.
How does the live work set-up work for you?
Ian: We’ve done it for years and were first inspired by the Williamsburg way of life. We had our first solo show there and the whole neighbourhood whether, it was galleries, record shops or whatever, all had these urban spaces and crammed in the back was their home. So, we fully embraced the idea and moved into a big East end warehouse, and behind a fake Fontana, which was very James Bond, was our dark little home. It was fabulous and great fun but after a while, not so. We found ourselves always checking emails on the computer as you pass by, so the new one has two floors.
Patrik: This one is completely different as we now have an apartment upstairs from the office. But, if the office manager calls upstairs, and if there is no answer, even if we are in, then she knows we are not available.
Ian (chuckling): We are a little bit ‘Devil Wears Prada’ like that. You bring the book up and you leave it by the flowers.
Patrik: And they quietly and slowly go back down the stairs. It sounds like a silly rule, but we have to have it. Because we decided not to have a door to the upstairs and to keep it open architecturally, we then had to make it clear to the office manager that although you work 9-6pm, we work all the time, so if we take a break that needs to be respected.
Does the live / work scenario provide and intensity to your work?
Ian: Yes, I think so because we live it, we don’t go home. We can’t go home, its what we do. It’s our lives, it’s what we interact with.
Above: Mirror, 2011. Aluminium, Nickel, Prussian Blue.
Typically, what hours do you work?
Ian: Now that we have an apartment we do go upstairs around seven o’clock in the evening. And, at weekends often go into the workshop, but not the office.
Patrik: We still see all our prototypes, art collections, sculptures and photography though, we live with them, and we still engage with them, we just don’t go through them anymore.
Do you each take on different roles and responsibilities?
Ian: We have different personalities, with different strengths and weaknesses, but what’s important is that what comes out of the studio we are both 100% happy with. And, if one of us isn’t then we won’t do it.
Patrik: This is how we started in the very beginning and it’s still the same.
Ian: Of course, we’ve learnt how to try talk each other into saying yes.
Patrik: But we have separate sketchbooks, thankfully.
Ian: Mine has more writing, whereas Patrik has more sketches. But then I tend to make more and I’m happy to ‘sketch’ with a piece of clay or an object.
Do you have any advice for someone reaching the point of critical mass in their studio as how to balance creativity and commerce?
Ian: Different people want different things but for us, if you want to be a creative then be a creative. If it gets to the point where you are always managing other people, then stop. Don’t become a factory foreman.
Patrik: I started out as a furniture maker and suddenly realized I am on a factory line and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. And you can end up becoming a prisoner of your own work.
Ian: We are successful for our creative vision and that’s what we should be doing.
Patrik: We are very lucky with David Gill Galleries as they really do represent their artists. They support you through all the production, manufacturing and marketing. So we come up with the idea and they will make it happen.
Tell us a bit about your interns.
Patrik: We run a programme of internship where we take on almost a fatherly role. If they are dedicated, then we are as dedicated as them. And we make it clear that if you want to make it in this, or any creative profession today, that you have to live and breathe it.
How do you select your interns?
Ian: A gut reaction. They have to have a design or art history interest, but it’s not based on just portfolio. In fact, there is a very good intern with us now, who’s portfolio wasn’t the best but we could see potential. And he was on the wrong course, and after an intern with us he realised he was on the wrong course and wanted to leave but we insisted he finished his degree. So, with our help he got onto a different course and now he’s doing really well.
What did you study and where?
Patrik: In Sweden it was graphic design, and in Copenhagen it was some architecture and then I started working as an Art Director in Sweden before I realized I would not be happy growing old in advertising.
Interviewer: You didn’t like advertising?
Patrik: It felt a little bit like I was creating a must have for things that are not must haves, a desire to buy unnecessarily and I wanted to be on the other side of the fence.
Ian: I think Patrik’s final straw was when he was headhunted by Tetra Pak and he knew he had to get away.
Patrik: Yeah, that was quite a difficult decision as it was to be one of their head designers.
Interviewer: That must have been difficult as they are a very successful company.
Patrik: It’s an extraordinary company. I remember I had just been accepted to go to Central St. Martins and was over the moon and the agency where I was working in Sweden had a little summer party. One of the heads of Tetra Pak pulled me aside and excitedly gave me the offer thinking there was no way I could have refused. And, actually if I hadn’t have just been accepted onto the course, I wouldn’t have been able to refuse, as it was an incredible offer.
I dread to think where I’d be if I accepted it.
Patrik: Unhappy somewhere.
Both (more chuckles): But rich…
Above: Pyrenees, 2007. Acquired by the V&A for their permanent collection.