For SS17 we have collaborated with Dutch design studio OS ∆ OOS in designing a duo of mirrors:
Repeat No.1 and Repeat No.2.
Working closely with a likeminded studio has allowed us to develop a product that inspires the collection and vice-versa. The minimal aesthetic, conscious choice of materials, shape and composition stay true to the design ethic of both OS ∆ OOS and FRISUR.
We caught up with Sophie and Oskar and asked them to tell us some more about their approach to design, our collaboration and what to look out for in 2017.
You graduated from the design Academy in 2009 and set up your design studio, OS ∆ OOS, in the same city, Eindhoven. What do you stand for, and how does your background and context influence your design?
Oskar: 99% of our work has come out of some kind of question. ‘Could you do something with this exhibition or this theme?’ Or someone approaching us asking if we can do something with a space or for a brand. Very seldomly have we created something that starts from nothing or on a whim.
In a way we started actually not wanting to do design products, we thought, ‘why does the world need more products?’ So we actually thought about starting a concept store, rather curating the designs of people who were making fantastic stuff. In the meantime we got asked to do an exhibition and there was a theme attached to it, the theme kind of set down the rules, and that is when we came up with our first lamps. Through this project we decided it’s good that we really develop something with a strong concept, because this concept gives it a reason why it should exist, instead of just saying, ‘hey, finger in the air, let’s make a chair or a table just because’.
So when we feel like there is a need to make something we try to formulate a text and a plan around it, which usually leads us to specific materials that allow us to realise what it is we want to make. So we very rarely say, ‘this is a fantastic type of paper, we wanna use this, let’s figure something out to do with it’. We usually do the opposite.
Ok, so working in collaboration like you have done this season with FRISUR is actually the way in which you prefer to work.
Sophie: We enjoy working like that because it gives us a bit of a framework. Of course we have a lot of ideas, but for us it still helps to have some kind of deadline. We are actually always coming up with ideas but don’t really realise them unless there is a theme or some kind of podium where it makes sense to be displayed.
Oskar: And actually these frameworks also exist in fashion. They have to develop a theme or concept around the collection which has to also fit into the timeframe of the seasons.
That actually leads on to my next question, where do you see the intersection between fashion and design?
Oskar: Well fashion is essentially something you need to keep you warm, but then as a fashion designer you take it a step further which allows you to express yourself with it. Similar to how you express yourself with the objects you put inside your house, which surround you. My father is a jewellery designer, so people ask, ‘why don’t you continue with the business?’ But it’s difficult for me to continue in his footsteps because his attention is mainly on aesthetics and styling, and very little on rules which determine what you make.
What we enjoy is finding a certain material and using it because it has a certain characteristic one can use to achieve specific tresults, which I think is similar to the process in fashion which, although also focusing on aesthetics and styling, essentially has to result in a wearable product. It’s different of course in Haute couture, but for FRISUR and other Prêt-à-porter brands who have an idea and translate it into something accessible for the general public, in that way it is similar… How we consider the user and the body, it’s just in a slightly different way.
You clearly have a sensitivity for shape, colour and composition, where did this fascination begin?
Oskar: We both take a lot of inspiration out of nature and art.
Sophie: Yeah, art and architecture.
Oskar: We look very little at other designers. That maybe comes a bit from my father, he always called nature the grand master, he’s got this whole spiel, that’s why he moved from Holland to Canada 47 years ago, nature is where he gets his ideas from. Nature has so many beautiful ways of giving colour and compositions, it’s just whether or not you have the eye to seek them out. In my case I think it has come from how I grew up, being around nature all the time.
Sophie: Yeah my parents always brought me and my sisters to museums. I really love art so whenever we went for holidays or even for the weekend we spent many hours in the museums, walking around, or even in churches. Modern art, art deco, nice buildings, anything really. Of course I grew up here in Europe so for me there’s a lot of history here, a lot of great architecture and beautiful buildings. I feel a connection to the culture.
Oskar: I think a lot of our shapes also come out of our focus on the core idea of what we are trying to deal with, and most of the time we really try to get to the essence of that idea and simplify all the aspects as much as possible, and that simplification of the shapes to be able to communicate what we are trying to communicate lends us to more geometrical shapes. We feel like organic shapes are somehow more stylised than flat surfaces for instance. We are also influenced by the industry, how products and materials are made. Most of the times it’s sheets that come out flat, glass and metal for example comes out flat, which is also another big influence.
So you try to stay honest to the material, you don’t try to make it into something that it isn’t.
Oskar: Yeah and that is why we are more geometrically driven.
How is the working dynamic between you two?
Sophie: At the beginning we do a lot together. Forming the concept, talking about it, then Oskar is a lot quicker with putting a whole bunch of ideas on paper which I react to and then we come to more of a focus point. He also takes care of the technical details because he has a mechanical engineering background. So he is focused on the parts that have to move, for example, or the way things are built. I take more care of the overall aesthetics, making sure that it is in balance; the concept, the materials, the colours. It’s not exactly split like this, we are both always really involved in each step of the process.
So for the SS17 collaboration with FRISUR you have designed two mirrors, can you explain how the collaboration came about and what lead you to design these objects?
Oskar: Well FRISUR first called us to propose the collaboration, and we were already thinking, ‘Ok, a fashion label, what’s the first thing you think of?’ So a mirror came to mind quite quickly, especially since it is so essential when choosing and buying clothing for yourself.
Sophie: Yeah, it was quite logical for us, not just about the store setting but also at home
and being busy with yourself, getting dressed, putting on your makeup. Then I think that from the beginning we had decided that whatever we were going to make we wanted to incorporate one of their materials, so not only the shape is referenced but also the material.
Oskar: Yeah because the mirror itself is semi-transparent, this semi-transparent material
was something that caught our eye and it’s relationship to the colour behind it is rather important as it can intensify or weaken the mirroring effect, so we incorporated the green suede as a background to increase the mirroring effect, since the suede absorbs the light very well it was the best option for having a functional result, besides also being in the Frisur collection, which is an important point.
And what about the objects themselves, you are experimenting with layering materials to create a partial or full mirroring effect. What design decisions were made and how did that affect the outcome?
Oskar: We decided to play a little bit more with organic shapes, since we have spent so
many years developing the form language of the studio, we were quite inspired to now design something with these more hand-drawn shapes. So in the end we decided to make a composition, a coated glass circle combined with a more free shape which acts as the background which, when combined, creats a mirrored surface. We decided to keep the two layers separate to give each one a little bit more space, which also affects how the mirror looks from different angles.
Sophie: It is also making it a bit more of a sculptural piece. It isn’t just a mirror, but almost an accessory for your wall.
Are you making the models and prototypes in your studio, or do you have to do that somewhere outside?
Sophie: We have quite a large workshop that we share with two other studios, so everyone has some machines and together it is quite a full workshop. There is the possibility for metal working, if you want to weld for example, wood working, there is a small CNC machine.
Oskar: Rapid prototyping is coming, we’re getting that as well. Everyone has their own office but the workspace is about 400m2
Woah ok, and I guess with sharing the equipment you also have more space to experiment. And what about the actual production of your products, is that also done yourself?
Sophie: That depends. We are quite lucky to be based here in the South of Holland. Well, of course we choose to stay here, and there is a lot of industry here so we have quite a large network of people who can make certain parts for our work. For example the glass, or when we have to laser cut shapes, it’s all in the area, it’s really good to have those people close by. They’re also very open to try out new things, if you come with new ideas or want to try out something other than the usual. So it’s quite nice, and like Oskar said most of the assembly also for the final product is done here and we often make some parts here ourself, with the metal lathe for example.
Oskar: We do enjoy doing a bit of everything, it makes us very multifunctional in a way. If you have to take a picture you need to know how the camera works, you have to know how the lathe works if you want to cut a piece of wood.
Sophie: Yeah sometimes we’re jealous of the people who stick to one thing, like wood working for example, and we have actually discussed it, if we should focus more on one area, but we don’t manage. it’s so interesting to find a different material, to visit another company and check that out, so like now we have been casting aluminium and it’s great! We’ve been working in a super old factory and it feels like you’re a hundred years back in time. Nothing has changed.
It’s really nice that you get to explore and discover new processes, or old processes as you say. Is there an object or product that you couldn’t live without?
Sophie: Espresso machine, haha!
Oskar: Yeah! We got one here in the studio, and two months later we bought the same one for the house because we needed one there as well.
What do you have coming up that people should keep an eye out for?
Oskar: We are preparing for Milan (Salone del Mobile). A lot of lighting projects are coming. We are working with a really big Italian lighting manufacturer, one of the biggest lighting companies in Italy, so we are doing something specifically for the Salone. They have this special hall which they alternate between kitchens and lighting and this year lighting is coming up again which is also when the project is going to be launched. It’s quite a big deal for us to work with such a big company!
Sophie: We’re also working on a store interior for a Dutch shop.
Oskar: Yeah and also the aluminium casting, we cannot really say who or what with most of our projects right now, but there are some furniture and lighting projects coming up over the next few months.
Sophie: Yeah it’s a lot but it’s good, we will manage it!
Photos of the OS ∆ OOS studio and work space by Floor Knaapen