We talk to Child Studio about London's current design scene "A new creative generation is coming of age, one that does not feel bound by tradition, but is more open and free thinking."
Our London Design Festival exhibition 'Punctuating Space' will present new work by London based designers Child Studio. The creative output of Chieh Huang and Alexey Kostikov is infused with a sense of theatricality and otherworldliness. Ahead of the LDF 2017 launch event, we spoke with them about their process, inspiration and the current London Design Scene.
How did Child Studio come into being? How did you both meet and how did you decide to work together?
We met in London when we were working for various studios, designing for a wide range of projects from interiors for fashion brands and furniture to unique limited edition objects and installations.
We were both new to London (Chieh is from Taiwan, and Alexey is from Russia) and eventually started collaborating on small, self-initiated projects. We both had this idea to do something on the edge of design and art, not limiting ourselves to a specific discipline.
That’s how the name ‘Child’ came about - the idea of looking at the world with the new eyes, being brave, naive and free.
Your work encompasses product design but also art direction and photography amongst other disciplines. How do you structure working across such a broad range of projects, was it a deliberate choice or born of circumstance?
Child Studio’s goal is to tell a complete story that captures a moment and creates a memorable experience, so the medium as such is secondary.
The collection which we are showing at Viaduct is created following this approach: we designed the objects, produced the photography, made a short film, designed the invitation cards and the website.
We are constantly brainstorming new ideas and ‘collect’ various concepts which we would like to bring to life in the future, from spatial installations and interiors, to furniture, photography, books and video projects.
Your first lighting collection is called ‘In the Shadow of a Man’ after a quote from the artist Giorgio De Chirico, tell us more about the pieces and the inspiration behind them...
We were drawn to the graphic qualities of De Chirico’s paintings - the way the perspective can be altered and twisted to create a sense of movement. There is a purity to the visual language of his work which intensifies the ambiguity and surreal quality of his story-telling. When we were working on the collection, we aimed to evoke the enigmatic and dreamlike atmosphere of those paintings.
On your website, you reference ‘A Child of Our Time’ an oratorio written by the pacifist, left wing composer Michael Tippett. The quotation is simply ‘I would know my shadow and my light, so shall I, at last, be whole' Tell us why this quote is significant to you?
The title ‘A Child of our Time’ became something of a slogan which we half-jokingly use to describe the idea behind our practice. It’s interesting to see the parallels between Tippett’s story which was written in the 1930’s with today’s Europe and the world. ‘A Child of our Time’ can be described as a dark tale, but at the same time, it offers hope and optimism for the future.
From where/who/what do you draw inspiration?
Our inspiration comes from the creative people around us. There is a real sense that the new creative generation is coming of age, one that does not feel bound by tradition but is more open and free thinking.
We also like collecting and sending each other weird images which we find online. When we start working on a new project, it’s fair to say that the ‘liked images’ tab on Instagram is as much of a source of inspiration as recent visits to art & design galleries.
The theme of our exhibition is Punctuating Space, what does this concept evoke for you?
The theme feels very relevant to us, as we design both objects and spaces. It’s interesting to see how an object can transform an interior it occupies, or how a particular spatial context can subvert the meaning of an object.
When we were showing our lighting collection in Milan this spring, we found an amazing hidden location for our installation: a traditional family-run flower shop in the Brera district. The setting helped to create an immersive experience, highlighting the surreal and otherworldly feel of the objects.
You are a London based studio, what drew you both to the city and what makes it home for you?
Growing up outside of the ‘Western world’, we saw London as an epicentre of creativity, with its underground music and fashion scenes, the outsider subcultures and rebellious DIY spirit.
The idea of ‘home’ today is rather fluid - our home can be anywhere and everywhere. At the end of the day, whether we work from a warehouse in London or a council flat in Moscow is irrelevant, we want to tell the stories which would resonate with the people regardless of their background.
As young designers based here, what challenges and advantages do you face?
The real challenges for a young designer are the same wherever they are based - to find your unique voice, connect with like-minded people and discover opportunities to produce strong and memorable work.
What is next? What projects are you working on at the moment?
Right now we are busy setting up a spatial installation at an amazing industrial space in Dalston, East London. The installation is based around a collection of objects, which we’ve designed for a high-end hospitality brand. This project is an opportunity for us to work on a larger scale and to play with the notions of ‘object ‘ and ‘space’ and explore how one can transform another.
What do you want to achieve as a Studio?
We want to keep it open, explore various disciplines and collaborate with creative people and brands. For us it’s all about understanding and expressing the present moment, capturing the energy and having fun.