Design Legends

Fredrikson Stallard & David Gill

Daniella Ohad

Design doyenne Daniella Ohad shares insights into collecting design drawn from her conversations with the world’s premiere design experts

Offered as an online course for the first time, Collecting Design: The Legends seeks to engage architects, interior designers, design lovers, and art collectors in an exploration of the fascinating world of collectible design, presented as one-on-one conversations between Daniella Ohad and leading experts. For Design Miami, Ohad recaps each weekly program (co-sponsored by AIA New York), sharing rare insights into how to enjoy and “read” objects while cultivating a critical eye and elevated discernment.

Patrik Fredrikson, David Gill, and Ian Stallard. Photo © David Gill Gallery

“When it comes to design, David Gill is as unashamedly naughty as he is infinitely knowledgeable. His fearless and early support for artists who would go on to greatness is the stuff of legend. David’s eye for design talent is unparalleled and uncompromising, and in the words of his late, great friend Zaha Hadid, he embodies the spirit that ‘there should be no end to experimentation.’ Eternally youthful and forward-looking in his choices, as a dealer of contemporary art and design he is always the guest you hope you are seated next to at a dinner party, hoping you may be privy to a tip about whatever is going to happen next.” —Yana Peel, Global Head of Arts & Culture at Chanel

“I was first introduced to the work of Fredrikson Stallard on a trip to London, where I visited the David Gill Gallery. So breathtakingly original, I loved the interesting materials and sculptural qualities in each object. The fact that their furniture is also functional has been a huge plus for my projects... It wasn’t until much later after several special commissions that I had the chance to visit their atelier and home—it all made sense, the organized artistic chaos and vision that I encountered there. I loved their work even more!” —Frank de Biasi, New York interior designer

Coffee Table Conception of Empire by Fredrikson Stallard for David Gill Gallery, 2019; Edition of 12 + 1P. Photo © David Gill Gallery

Only one. Only one designer is invited to participate in both sections of my special series Collecting Design: The Legends (Part II will launch on February 9th). Alongside the curators, dealers, and collectors that are the main focus of the program, the one designer whom I have hosted is actually a duo, two designers, life-partners whose body of work I admire and believe capture 21st-century design culture at its best.

Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard, co-founders of the London-based collaborative art and design studio Fredrikson Stallard (FS), stand at the forefront of the British avant-garde. In this week’s talk, they were joined by their dealer and mentor, legendary design gallerist and global tastemaker David Gill.

Dining Table Antarctica by Fredrikson Stallard for David Gill Gallery, 2017; Edition of 12 + 2P.  Photo © David Gill Gallery

Since discovering FS, as they came to be known in 2006, Gill exclusively represents and shows their work at his London gallery, a magical temple of design and hub of cutting-edge objects of the highest level of ambition, imagination, and novelty. Gill explained in the talk how FS's pieces exemplify the zeitgeist. The exceptional use of materials and original forms, he maintained—the soul that these objects introduce into interior spaces—are key aspects in understanding them intellectually, aesthetically, and emotionally as well as recognizing their value within the larger landscape of contemporary design.

We opened the talk by looking at Avalanche, a mirror made of small pieces of broken mirror shards set in an exquisite bronze and glass box. Precision and craftsmanship, we learned, constitute the foundation of FS’s work, and this fairy-tale-like object embodies the energy, chaos, and the innovative approach to materials, light, and form for which the duo is known. The piece's unique authenticity allows the users who interact with it to experience their living spaces in new ways and to think differently about design as an agent of transformation.

Avalanche by Fredrikson Stallard for the Gieves & Hawkes flagship store, 1 Savile Row, London, 2014. Photo © Fredrikson Stallard

Design to FS is first of all a kind of performance that combines art, design, motion, and sensuality, while at the same time expressing a superb sense of style. Just like Avalanche, all of FS’s furniture designs are unexpected and fresh as fresh can be. In their hands, the most basic materials—crumpled metal, broken glass, carved foam, cut cardboard, and raw birch logs—are transformed into chic and dreamy objects of desire.

Malmö-born Fredrikson and Essex-born Stallard met while attending Central Saint Martins, the famed London design and art school. They founded their atelier in 1995 and nine years later were discovered by Gill. They have since established their studio and home in a former printing shop in East London—a move that is a familiar phenomenon of the contemporary British design scene, which emerged at the advent of the provocative punk movement in the late ‘70s and has since perpetuated the protest styles of impresarios like Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. FS's work is charged with this East London, punk-era spirit of originality, seduction, and rebellion, yet tempered by exceptional sophistication and refinement. By closely examining the contradictions inherent in FS’s work, as Gill showed us, we are left with a more elevated taste and more elastic mind. ◆

Dining Table Atlantic by Fredrikson Stallard for David Gill Gallery, 2013; Edition of 20 + 2P. Photo © David Gill Gallery

The public is invited to enroll in Collecting Design: The Legends here. Sponsored by AIA New York, these weekly virtual classes run through December 16, 2020.