Interview with Arabella from Icon By Design
If you’ve been into our Sydney flagship store, or browsed our products online, you will recognise One Another. Their beautiful hand-made cushions adorn many of our sofas and armchairs, and are some of our most-coveted accessories. The ethical cushion company with the slogan: Good Design, Designed for Good; have been incredibly busy since our interview with them last year. Having worked closely with One Another since our founding in 2015, we were delighted to receive the call to support them on their newest venture: a collaboration with Studio A, an organisation championing intellectually disabled artists. As a sustainable company passionate about ethical and social issues, we were eager to lend a hand. The fruits of the collaboration is a colourful, barrier-breaking homewares collection – displayed on hand-picked Icon By Design furniture; all of which are able to be viewed and purchased in their Darlinghurst pop-up store from 5th July, 2018. We sat down with them to hear the story behind this exciting partnership, and learn more about the stunning collection.
Firstly, tell us a little about you guys – what does your business/organisation do?
The seed for One Another was planted after a trip to India, where after witnessing the harsh realities of living in poverty we decided to do something tangible to help make a difference. So we embraced the entrepreneurial spirit of the women we met in India and launched our own ethical brand. With our backgrounds in graphic design, photography and fashion, we knew we wanted to combine our love of design with the traditional techniques of the women to create products that were not only designed to look good – but ‘designed for good’.
Studio A is a supported studio based in Sydney Australia tackling the barriers artists living with intellectual disability face in accessing conventional education, professional development pathways and opportunities needed to be successful and renowned visual artists.
Is this the first collaboration you have worked on?
We have done a few smaller collaborations producing exclusive products with stylists, stores and artists. Though this is our first time producing an extensive collection in partnership with someone.
How did this collaboration come about?
My wife and I stumbled across Studio A’s work at Sydney Contemporary Art Fair. They had a series of striking portraits and colourful screen prints that drew me in. I grabbed their card and later read that the artists had intellectual disability. I had been thinking about a collaboration for our next range and immediately knew that Studio A would be perfect. Firstly, I loved the art and secondly the story behind it and the parallels it had to One Another’s story.
What did the creative process look like?
The Studio A artworks did not all translate to embroidery or weaving, so I went through all their pieces to select those that would work or that could be simplified. I then illustrated and traced them into simple line work that we could embroider or bolder graphics that we could weave using t-yarn.
There was a bit of back and forth with the women in India and South Africa working out which technique would work and best portray the original artwork.
What was different about working in a collaboration versus designing independently?
It was actually easier as it wasn’t starting from scratch. Studio A had this amazing catalogue of artworks and it was just pulling together pieces that would look amazing when produces using the traditional skills of the women. I was nervous about ensuring the artists would be happy and proud of the end product.
What was a ‘defining moment’ in the journey?
It was very exciting when team India sent me the first images of the embroidered faces by Studio A artist Thom Roberts. The stitching was next level and really made the faces three dimensional. Though I think the defining moment will be when our Pop Up Store opens next week. It is the culmination of all the hard work and when we get to share not only the collection but the stories of the artists and artisans.
What is your favourite piece/pieces in the collection?
How can you go past the Bert and Ernie cushions but I also love the framed embroidered Bird artwork by Studio A artist Annette Galstaun.
Why choose Icon By Design and their furniture to be part of your pop-up store?
Icon By Design have supported One Another since you first opened and our products have always looked amazing in store and in your campaign shots. Because Icon By Design has such an extensive range we are able to create different rooms within the pop up – stunning bedroom, lounge areas and dinning – all styled with the pieces from the collection. That the furniture is handcrafted and sustainably sourced is also really important.
Is there a message you hope to convey with this collaboration?
This collection was all about bringing together artisans and artists across the globe – bringing together One Another’s desire to help empower women to rise above poverty and Studio A’s mission to ensure artists with intellectual disability have a voice in contemporary culture and access to meaningful employment.