This season JOSEPH worked in partnership with Listen Studios to create a sculptural piece to celebrate the launch of the new Selfridges Designer Studio. We met up with Joel Muggleton of Listen Studios to talk inspiration, collaboration and the future.
A SPACE BETWEEN ARCHITECTURAL GESTURE, FUNCTIONAL DISPLAY UNIT AND SCULPTURAL STATEMENT
How did the collaboration between yourself, Joseph and Selfridges happen?
Selfridges initiated the project as part of the large scale renovation of their third floor. Five brands were invited to work with a designer / artist of their choice to create a folly that would sit within their concession at Selfridges. The idea of the folly was to occupy a space between architectural gesture, functional display unit and sculptural statement.
This was an opportunity to be playful, unexpected and focus on something outside of product and the limitations of retail display. When JOSEPH got in contact about the project, I was drawn to its ambiguous nature as well as the chance to intervene in such a loaded and challenging site as Selfridges.
a pairing of industrial and organic elements
Tell us about the piece and the inspiration behind it?
A core strand to the Joseph DNA is the idea of contrast, this proved helpful as a footing for the project, something that many disparate elements can tie in to. I started to consider contrasts within the field of sculpture and ways in which certain tensions could be presented and played with. What was also important to consider was an over-arching theme within the store design around a pairing of industrial and organic elements.
The piece itself consists of large sections of driftwood mounted within an Aluminium structure. These wooden elements have been rounded by the surf and bleached by the sun, they appear almost like sculpted stone and bring to mind work from a generation past, a Noguchi...a Hepworth...a Moore. Each section has been assembled with rubber as if packed for transporting and marked with spray paint, engaging the wood with materials and processes of contemporary life.
Why have you chosen to use the materials you have?
The wood itself was sourced from the coast of New Zealand and although it had already travelled a long way, each piece has a dense and wild history that will in most part remain unknown, a dense-ness visibly present in the salt-cured surface. Compare this to the Aluminium channel, extruded in to uniform lengths, produced to order at specific geometries and delivered straight to site. Its history is pre-determined and its sand-blasted surface is wipe clean.
I like the idea of the materials themselves considering how they have all ended up assembled together on the Selfridges third floor, in the same way perhaps as the Selfridges' customer might do when confronted by this work, when they may have only left the house that day to purchase some new socks.
How long have you been a sculptor for, where did it all start?
I studied sculpture and always enjoyed the elasticity of the subject. I have since been able to work across various areas including furniture, lighting and interiors, though certain sensibilities always remain; a relationship with weight, surface, proportions and an interest in presentation. There's a great interview on YouTube where Gedi Sibony, somewhat nervously, describes the fundamentals of his sculptural practise as 'a desire to make things levitate'. I've often thought about this idea of floating, when all the variables are just right, that's when it floats. I think you can apply this notion to many fields of practise.
BRUTALISM ATDOMESTIC SCALE
Tell us a little more about Listen Studios and what other projects you have coming up?
I set up the studio in 2012 to focus on design projects and encourage collaborative work. I've been working this year with a Dutch furniture producer called Van Rossum, we will be launching a new collection together in October at the Biennale Interieur in Kortrijk, Belgium. The collection focuses on the work of brutalist Belgian architect Juliaan Lampens, with a re-working of his plywood furniture and his ideas of brutalism at domestic scale.
I'm also working towards a presentation as part of London Design Festival in September with TANK magazine. Together with visual artist James Ari King, we will present a series of rubberised furniture at the TANK TV space, within an installation that looks at our visceral attraction to this seductive material.
Photography: James Ari King