Di Petsa

«There is a  censorship of our bodily waters: the fact that we are wet, the fact that we come from water is something to be hidden.»

When thinking of contemporary design and consumerism, the idea of social engagement is probably one of the most important factors in distinguishing the greatness of a creative mind. Dimitra Petsa, Athens based designer, and founder of the namesake brand DI PETSA, is a clear example of it.

Following her graduation from MA Fashion Womenswear at Central Saint Martins, the designer set back to her city of origin to establish her own label, a creative platform that pursues cultural support to women. “My long term aim is to be able to provide jobs for these women, to facilitate the training of younger people, in order to preserve crafts in the future.” admits the designer.

This past week, Dimitra Petsa sat down with NR magazine to look back at her roots, inspiration and ideals. Advocating against cultural taboos of wetness, the designer explained her intent and ambitions for her label: community based projects, performances, workshops and a publication too. Blending together performance art, writing and ancient design techniques, the brand is fighting against shame, promoting an empowering vision of femininity and WETNESS. 

For those who may still not know you, would you like to tell us a bit more about the brand and how you started your career as a fashion designer?

I grew up in Greece, around my grandmother who ran her own tailoring school, and this is where I learnt to sew and construct a dress from a very young age. I think this experience has influenced the way I see fashion in general, from the point of view as a seamstress who works with her personal clients, rather than its normative context. I admired her deep connection with her clients. While the fabric was pinned to the body there were secrets, tears, laughter… I craved this deep intimacy between the designer and wearer, which I first got to experience while developing my final collection at Central Saint Martins. My models would run around the studio naked, share personal stories, and discuss philosophy to help with the design development. One moment we were laughing, the next one crying: I fell in love with that process of design, an exercise based on personal experience and interaction.

How has your brand developed since your graduation at Central Saint Martins back in 2018?

The ethos of our brand is centred around the ‘Wetness Theory’. It has remained the same, and continues to be a focal point of our design inspiration. Each collection explores this through new viewpoints: looking at the evolution of the journey of a woman, her relationship with water, and how she is becoming more accepting of her bodily waters.

For the SS21 collection, titled Self-Birth, water is examined as a vital force of life, and re-birth, that allows introspection, and ultimately self-reconnaissance. With a focus on Maternal waters, and the journey to self-healing, the film displays the vision of a woman floating on water, representing the act of transcending – an ecstatic self-birth.

Our AW21 collection, titled «I am my own Mother», is inspired by the devotion of self-mothering. To love one-self unconditionally, embracing the strength that comes with self-acceptance of our Bodily Fluids: Water filtered through our bodies, Bodily Water. Holy Water, Sea Water. After last season’s collection centered on ecstatic birth, we now look to a transformative future, harnessing the power of self-love for unashamed self-expression, with the aim of strengthening the connection to our physical and immaterial self, water.

How do your origins inform your work?

To me, the sea has played an essential role in growing up. My hometown in Greece is next to a harbor, meaning I could always hear boats leaving the docks from my bedroom. I find sea healing: to me it feels like home, it has played a big part in my research and creative practice with the DI PETSA brand.

In terms of cultural influence, I am very interested in exploring antiquity, how it coexists in contemporary culture, and how we communicate our relationship with the past in general. Greek mythology and practice inform my designs. For SS21, we developed a golden prayer corset that’s entirely hand-embroidered with materials traditionally used in Greek orthodox priest-wear.

Lastly, craftsmanship, sustainability and textile innovation are very important to me. I am very moved by the dying art of traditional greek craftsmanship. I would love to find a way to preserve it, to interact with it in my designs. For our latest AW21 Collection we have been working with a local group of women in Athens – the Lyceum Club of Greek Women, an organisation founded in 1911 – who work towards preserving traditional arts, including embroidery and lace making. For our latest season, we created our first collaboration together. My long term aim is to be able to provide jobs for these women, to facilitate the training of younger people, in order to preserve such crafts in the future.

I see Di Petsa, I think WET DRESS. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind it?

The Wetness theory behind the brand evolved during my time at CSM. I was conducting eco-feminist research, investigating the relationship between Women and water, Women and their bodily fluids. The idea was to create a vision of a totally wet woman, fully accepting she is coming from water, and of her wetness. Our goal in fashion is to allow people to be unashamedly wet. To create beautiful work that can inspire others to consider nature as something of our own. Our bodily fluids. Water filtered through our bodies, bodily Water, holy Water.

The Wetlook comes after an original technique that took 6 months to develop during my master’s years at Central Saint Martins. Its conceptualization started from a series of performances I was doing for my BA years studying performance, design and practice. I had a woman dressed in water walk across Athens and that was the idea I wanted to crystallize: somebody wearing their own Wetlook could be part of this water performance without actually having to be wet.

Where does your work stand in relation to Feminism? 

The brands Wetness theory seeks to subvert the idea of shame of natural bodily fluids. By re-narrating their physical and philosophical context – a notion that is unapologetically on display through our Wet Script Mesh collections, with poetic scripts, such as “Cries in Public”, “Holy Water, Sea Water”, “Wetness”, digitally printed onto the surface of the mesh garments – our mission aims to inspire the wearer and act as subtle reminders in the performance of their everyday life to embrace their wet self.

Through our work we aim to create a new narrative around bodily fluids and the female body, a subject that often remains taboo in mainstream media. We want to make women feel comfortable and empowered in their natural self, something which we are conditioned and told through the media to change and mould into what society views as the «ideal» vision of a woman. It feels very sanitized and stirpped back, “if you cry in public, you must hide it, if you breastfeed in public, you must hide it”.. There is a  censorship of our bodily waters: the fact that we are wet, the fact that we come from water is something to be hidden. Shame is a self-inflicting punishment. This research, which has resonated with a lot of other people, is to this day a personal healing journey.

Your work also penetrates the realm of performance, how does such practice enable you to spread your voice?

I knew I loved fashion, but I was also very interested in performance art, theater and film, and I wanted to acquire skilIs that would develop my artistic practice and bring new viewpoints and inspiration to my fashion education. I did my first degree in Performance Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins. When I graduated I continued onto the Masters in Fashion Design Womenswear, and that was where I really combined all my skills and interests into one practice: couture fashion practices, textile development with performance, sustainability and film.

Both performance and art are so important to my work and creative practice. I am very involved in my work: it is something very personal to me. The relationship between model, designer and viewer is very interconnected, that’s why I always take part amongst the performers in my shows, exploring my vulnerability and body expression, alongside their exploration. Through these intimate moments, and the overcoming of shame, I can really tap into my creative side, and create work that comes from a deeper place. Work that is authentic to me and my experience. For us, a garment worn with intention and connection to a deeper emotional message, is one that will resonate and last with the consumer.

At DI PETSA, we are working on many different creative projects aside from the RTW collections. We recently launched a book, titled WETNESS: A Script of bodily Fluids, which I wrote and also illustrated. The book consists of 7 chapters exploring 7 bodily fluids: Saliva, Tears, Breast Milk, Vaginal Fluids and Semen, Sweat, Blood, and Urine. The writing is a merge of scripts for a filmed performance and poetic text which aims to create an alternative narrative for bodily fluids.The book includes direction notes, rehearsal exercises, diary logs, and fashion illustrations offering a behind the scenes eye to the Wetness concept and the performance work at DI PETSA.

We also run monthly Wetness Workshops that allow our audience to deepen their connection to water at large, and the connection to our bodily waters.

What is the highlight of your SS21 Collection?

The highlight piece from the DI PETSA SS21 collection for me was the Gold Embroidered Breastfeeding Corset and Wrap Skirt. The embroidery technique was inspired by an ancient greek ritual dress often used to decorate Greek Orthodox Priest wear – traditionally worn by males – but created, and passed through the hands of women. I liked the idea of subverting this by applying the technique to a womenswear garment.

What do you hope your audience to perceive from your work?

I hope the work at DI PETSA inspires our audience to embrace their Wet Self. To find intimacy in becoming comfortable with their natural self and their fluid expressions of wetness. The Wet Script garments are a very useful performance tool for when you get out of centre, or when you want to dedicate your day to Wetness and to coming back to the home self – the sea. It can be very beautiful to just look down your chest, and read excerpts of a script that re-aligns you to your own self. It puts you back into the performance you choose to create, and not be so affected by what is around you. A wearer-performer, that’s the way that I perceive it. Someone who puts an intention forward when they wear a Wet Script garment, and chooses to connect with it on a deeper level.

What are the next steps you would like your brand to follow?

Craftsmanship and sustainable design is important to our brand, and something we want to continue to evolve within our design process in the future. We have recently started to work with a local group of Women in Athens for a special Ancient Greek embroideries series. We want to continue investing in community driven projects like this. As the scale of our production grows, we hope to employ more women. In the future, we would like to run teaching classes within our studio, to ensure the embroidery skills continue to be passed down to younger generations. We want to develop collections that are consciously designed, with investment in sustainable materials and innovative ways of designing, looking at methods of upcycling and repurposing

James Barnor

Exploring the nuances and societal transitions in the 1950s and 1960s, as London was blossoming into a multicultural capital

London’s Serpentine Gallery presents an overview of the career of British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor. Working over two continents and over six decades as a studio portraitist, photojournalist and Black lifestyle photographer, Barnor’s career covers a multitude of photographic genres and offers a wider social commentary, documenting major socio-political changes in London and Accra.

On the cusp of Ghana’s Independence in the early 1950s, Barnor set up his famous Ever Young studio in Accra. Arriving in London towards the end of the decade, he began working with the South African magazine Drum, capturing the experiences of the African diaspora and the style and creative spirit of the period. Barnor returned to Ghana in the 1970s, where he continued his work with portraiture, established himself in the music scene and created the country’s first colour processing lab.

Barnor’s street photography explores the nuances and societal transitions in the 1950s and 1960s, as London was blossoming into a multicultural capital. Returning to the city 1994, Barnor’s work focussed on documenting the Black communities that had settled in London – something that had previously been documented by mostly white, European photographers. His portraits of the African diaspora in London focus on the members of the Black Power Movement, while also capturing different fashion trends present in Britain’s Black community during the 1960s.

Barnor’s body of work spans six decades and possesses a clarity of vision and a sense of community and sensitivity that he both extends towards and brings out in his subjects. The Serpentine’s exhibition displays Barnor’s work from 1950-80 and draws from his archive of around 32,000 images, all mapping the flourishing cultures of two cities and reflecting Barnor’s ceaseless uplifting and creative energy.

‘James Barnor: Accra/London’ runs until 22nd October at the Serpentine North Gallery.

Neels Castillon

Film director and photographer Neels Castillon on cinematic visuals

For Neels Castillon, authenticity is integral to his role as a film director and photographer, especially, as he explains on the phone from Paris, in an age of fake news. The dissemination of falsified and fabricated news reportage may not have a direct connection to Castillon, whose clients include Lacoste, Hermès and the French singer, Angèle, but his contention lies with the prevalence of artifice. He sees his role as navigating a balance between capturing the feeling that cinematic visuals can provoke, whilst simultaneously resisting the artificiality those same visuals can carry. There is perhaps no better example of how Castillon meets this feat than in his production company, Motion Palace’s, advertising campaign for kitchen manufacturer, Schmidt. The premise of the advertisement was to have one of Schmidt’s kitchens appearing on a cliff face, demonstrating the brand’s functionality and adaptability. On seeing that the brief was to shoot in a studio with a green screen, Castillon responded that it should be shot for real in the Alps. The ensuing advertisement, and supplementary documentary about the process, are jaw-dropping to watch, as mountaineer Kenton Cool makes himself breakfast in a fully-working kitchen, 6500ft above ground. Castillon refers to the experience as a ‘cool adventure’; the team involved stayed in tents for fifteen days, hiking their way up to the cliffside, and creating an entirely new structure to support the camera from above.

It is through commercial work, like the advertisement for Schmidt, that Motion Palace is able to pursue its more artistic endeavours; ‘It’s in the DNA of my company to produce art stuff with the money we make,’ Castillon explains. As a result, Castillon was able to realise the F Major music video for the neo-classical pianist, Hania Rani, in Iceland earlier this year. 

Filmed in a remote location, Hania is seen playing an open-front upright piano – an approach which visually encapsulates the artist’s fascination with the mechanical, organic possibilities that the instrument affords. For the video, Castillon worked with the choreographer, Fanny Sage, and the dancers Mellina Boubetra and Janina Sarantšina, whose interpretations of Hania’s ethereal performance is captured in a single sequence shot. The camera work signals Castillon’s commitment to striving for authenticity; ‘The concept was, how can we translate music that never stops, and keep up this pace?’ So, the camera doesn’t stop either. It was important, too, to translate the sensation of freedom that comes both with Hania’s music and the dancers’ movements – something that the film’s location allowed for. ‘I want to celebrate nature,’ Castillon explains, adding that he strives to capture how a landscape can be inspirational, whilst resisting the urge to just create picture postcards of the scenery. The backdrop of mountains and black sand in F Major have the potential to be just that; awe-inspiring and spectacular in itself. But, as the chilling wind that entraps Hania and the dancers in the video confirms, the logistics of F Major were anything but straightforward. ‘As you can see, there was an ice storm,’ Castillon points out; ‘It was very cold, like minus seven degrees. We rehearsed a lot before but, on set on the beach we only had three takes because of the light and the weather.’ Not only was the filming testament to Castillon’s approach to taking on a challenge, but also his dedication to fully realising the potential of the performers he works with. 

Castillon discovered Hania Rani through her record label, Gondwana Records: ‘I like pretty much all the artists they have in their roster, so when I listened to her first album (2019’s Esja) I was totally in love.’ At the time Castillon reached out to Hania, she was writing her second album, Home, but she had seen Castillon’s 2017 film, Isola with the dancer Léo Walk, and wanted to work together. Their collaboration was postponed to allow time for Castillon to raise money and for Hania to complete the album. This time also gave Castillon the chance to work out the concept for their work; ‘I listened to [F Major] maybe 200 times before coming up with the idea.’ He was also keen to ensure he attended every rehearsal and discuss the concept with the dancers; the process is ‘almost a co-creation,’ Castillon explains, like ‘ping-pong.’ It’s a constructive and collaborative process of back-and-forths to find a way that Castillon can capture the performance in the best possible way. His work with Hania may have been a while in the making, but that seems to be the case with a lot of Castillon’s collaborations. 

Stills from Hania Rani’s F Major music video

There is a sense, talking to Castillon, that he uses his films to capture the creative endeavours of those he knows and admires – and in turn, to introduce them to one another in the name of collaboration. That was the case for last year’s short film, Parce Que, featuring the painter, Inès Longevial, and Léo Walk. Inès, like Hania after her, had seen Isola and was keen to work with Léo who, similarly, loved the painter’s work. Castillon had known Inès for a number of years previously and was waiting for the perfect opportunity to work together, which Parce Que would be – but it took ‘almost a year to find a time when [Léo and Inès] were both available.’ The idea was to combine painting and dance together, but Castillon was wary of avoiding the pitfalls of an ‘arty cliché’. With Serge Gainsbourg’s song Parce Que as the film’s soundtrack, the dangers of doing something cliché could be high, but Castillon managed to pull it off. That success is demonstrative of the director’s integrity when it comes to understanding the performers he works with. It was important that the location choice for Parce Que would be able to accommodate Léo’s dancing, which, as he explains in reference to Isola, requires a smooth enough surface to allow for some of the breakdancing moves. As the film, which tells the story of love and, eventually heartbreak, progresses, Léo dances on a six by four metre painting that Inès is depicted as working on; Castillon’s way of combining the creative skill of both collaborators, and avoiding the cliché of something ‘that has already been seen before’. 

Léo Walk on the set of Parce Que

Inès Longevial on the set of Parce Que

As with the Schimdt advertisement and the F Major video, Parce Que shows that Castillon is a master at pulling of impressive operations. ‘It’s what I love,’ he enthuses, ‘sometimes you have a crazy idea like, “What if Léo dances on a big painting?” And one year later, you are shooting it. Like, okay – it’s worth it.’ A special frame was made for Inès’s painting, which was kept in four parts in a friend’s shop in Paris because, as Castillon explains, ‘the apartments are very tiny’, before being transported to a secret location in the South of France for filming. A delipidated castle near Biarritz was chosen in part because the location reminded Inès of her childhood and also because Castillon liked its uniqueness. It had been designed by a woman at the turn of the twentieth century, who had taken inspiration from far and wide including, amongst other references, Versailles. Castillon is careful not to disclose the exact location of the castle because of the fragile state that the building is now in; the team spent two days clearing the site of detritus before filming and filmed quickly to cause as little damage as possible. There is, then, a sense of nostalgia that infuses Parce Que – a longing for lost love, a reminder of childhood and memory of times gone by. 

Personal connections prove important to Castillon, perhaps another explanation for how he avoids clichés. During the location scouts for Isola, it occurred to Castillon that he knew exactly the place to film. Castillon grew up in Sardinia; he remembers a deserted building near a beach he used to frequent with his grandmother, which would become the ‘perfect place’ to film. He describes the place as surreal, the light there reminding him of an Edward Hopper painting. The experience of watching Isola feels similar to viewing a painting by Edward Hopper, too. To see Léo perform, at first refracting the haze of the summer sun and, later, his movements lit up by the warm glow of sundown, it is possible to feel connected to him in his solitude. Isola grants the opportunity to be close to Léo precisely because Castillon is conscientiously aware of the viewer. One of the director’s earlier videos, La République du Skateboard, came from the desire to capture a scene close to Castillon’s heart. As a skateboarder from the age of ten, Castillon started making skate videos using filming techniques common to the scene, ‘fisheyes, long lens – pretty dirty stuff.’ But, he decided to make a film that was more cinematic, taking influence from the classic movies that helped him learn the filming techniques he employs today. The film, about skateboarding and, skateboarding in Paris in particular, was envisioned as something that anyone could watch. The result is an ode to the scene and the city, beautifully shot, as would be expected from Castillon’s work, and accessible too. ‘I didn’t want to make something that only speaks to experts,’ the director explains. ‘I wanted to translate it in a way that is universal so that everyone can watch and understand why it’s beautiful.’ That same philosophy is applied to dance; ‘I’m not interested in making dance videos that only a few people can understand’, Castillon says of his approach. Rather, he wants to ‘find a perfect balance between the popular and the artistic.’  

At its core, Castillon’s role as a director could be understood as transforming his fascination for performers into nuanced films that combine a highly cinematic approach with a deep respect for artistic craft. He says that he is fascinated by artists like Léo Walk and Fanny Sage, and this fascination inspires him to tell their stories. It’s somewhat telling that Castillon describes himself as someone who ‘cannot create a whole universe from nothing’. Rather, he thrives on the collaborative process that comes with the way he instinctively works. Just as he brings up fakes news as the anthesis of his search for authenticity, Castillon describes a ‘kind of boredom’ that comes with the saturation of content on platforms like Instagram and Netflix. He is resolutely not interested in making films that have been done before. That said, Castillon’s upcoming release sees the director return to Iceland with Fanny Sage for a second film; the music is by the French artist, Awir Leon, who, not surprisingly, Castillon claims to love. He describes the short film, called 間 (Ma), as ‘mind-blowing’ – and it’s a project that he seems immensely proud of. When it premieres on June 29th on Nowness, it’s more than likely worth watching.  

Muda Architects

«preserving and staying respectful to the natural environment»

Garden Hotpot Restaurant designed by MUDA Architects is located in the Sansheng Township in the suburb of Chengdu, China. Surrounded by a lotus pond and nestled in the midst of a eucalyptus forest, the building’s unique design reflects the beauty of the natural landscape and pays homage to the established traditions of hotpot culture – the area’s traditional cuisine where a simmering pot is served at the table.

Originally founded in Boston in 2015, MUDA Architects have set up offices in both Beijing and Chengdu. The studio’s aim for the Garden Hotpot Restaurant was to gently integrate the site with the surrounding environment, creating a leisurely and peaceful dining experience. The suburb’s warm climate makes its location ideal for visitors, and Chengdu’s unique natural features made it the perfect setting for the architects to generate an interactive space.

With no external or internal walls, MUDA decided to construct the restaurant out of a series of pillars and boards to blend the building in with the surrounding woodlands, allowing it to gently integrate with the site. The building’s canopy skirts the body of water, curving organically and seemingly in response to the landscape, replicating the shape of steam and smoke of hotpots diffusing into the air, further blurring the boundary between the building and nature.

The overall aim of the design was to minimise human intervention and enhance the interaction between the guests and nature. NR speaks with the architecture studio to learn more about their approach to sustainability and design.

The restaurant is located in the Sansheng Township – what were the advantages of working in such a suburban area?

The natural environment of the suburb is incredibly beautiful and peaceful. Its also very close to the city, so visitors can reach it easily.

How did you decide to integrate hotpot culture into the design of the restaurant?

«Hotpot» is the best representation of the leisurely spirit of life in Chengdu; so we thought it best for the design concept of the restaurant to echo this culture. We drew inspiration from the dense smoke rising from the boiling soup of the hot pot to create the free-flowing curves of the building.

How do you feel the project reflects and respects its surrounding environment?

When I first visited the site, I was deeply impressed by the breathtaking natural environment, with its tall eucalyptus trees and silhouettes of egrets skimming through the forest. To preserve the eucalyptus trees on the site, we mapped their locations so the building could curve to avoid the plants, preserving and staying respectful to the natural environment.

Did any other elements of the natural landscape inform or inspire the building’s design?

Inspired the trunks of the eucalyptus trees, we used white columns to support the roof, allowing the columns to integrate with the trees.

What was the process like when working with the natural environment – was it important for you to conserve some of the landscape?

Preserving the natural environment was a focus of ours. During the construction process, we shared with the contractor about the measures we were willing to take to help protect the natural environment of the site. We avoided large construction equipment and instead used manual operations.

Was bringing people closer to nature an important part of the project?

Absolutely. With the idea of paying the greatest respect to the natural environment, we decided to blur the architectural scale, leave out walls, and only use pillars and boards in order to let the building gently integrate with the site and to delineate the shape of the lake in a gentle way, so that visitors could experience the natural landscape close-up.

The features of your other project, the Xinglong Lake CITIC Bookstore, also interprets cultural traditions – is this something that you try to maintain within each of your designs?

The design concept of the Xinglong Lake CITIC Bookstore originates from the idea of «a book falling from the sky», and the curved roof refers to the local traditional single-pitch roof. We aim to tap into each project’s locality and culture, and to incorporate that in a contemporary way into our design strategy.

What are some of the projects MUDA is currently working on?

The projects that are under construction right now are the M50 Art Hotel, Haikou Visitor Center and the TCM Museum of Pengzhou.



Elsa Peretti

Elsa Peretti
Tiffany & Co

The designer behind some of Tiffany’s most iconic pieces, Elsa Peretti, died at the age of 80 on 18th March 2021. Somewhat unintentionally, this editorial becomes a tribute in her honour.

Born in Italy, Peretti moved to New York in the late 1960s, finding work as a fashion model (a job that gave her financial freedom, having previously been cut off from her eye- wateringly wealthy, but inwards-looking family in Florence). In New York, she became a regular at Studio 54, accompanied by a posse including Warhol, Liza Minelli and the designer, Roy Halston Frowick. It was the through the latter that Peretti’s career blossomed; she designed jewellery for Halston’s eponymous line, and it was him who introduced her to Walter Hoving, CEO of Tiffany & Co. in 1974. By Peretti’s own telling, she was “hired on the spot,” and so began a collaboration that would last until her death. A few years ago, when Peretti threatened to quit the partnership, the company were quick to renegotiate a contract for a further 20 years – which would have lasted until what would have been her 92nd birthday.

With only a few years off celebrating half century of Peretti’s designs for Tiffany, her pieces are icons for a by-gone era. The mesh scarf necklace, for example, which debuted on the runway of Halston’s fall collection in 1975, is evocative of the disco age. But Peretti’s designs remain unequivocally timeless. Peretti reintroduced silver as jewellery to a world in which it was confined to use for accessories and homeware.

Her appointment at Tiffany came as the brand was looking to reach a broader audience – a woman who couldn’t afford to buy herself gold or diamonds, and a woman who wouldn’t necessarily rely on a man to do so for her. The necklace, Diamonds by the Yard (its name coined by Halston), made diamonds affordable by spacing small stones out along the chain. Peretti designed for the modern woman, and was herself, a modern woman. Tall, intimidating (by all accounts) and famously short-fused, Peretti retained the rights to her designs and name. Designs like the Open Heart, Bean and Bone capture the fluidity of form that defined Peretti’s designs.

Her work coalesced organic forms with sophistication and elegance. In the 1980s, the designer escaped the chaos and debauchery of New York to Sant Martí Vell, a small village in Catalan – where, since her early modelling days, she had gradually been buying up the abandoned houses there. She would spent most of the rest of her life there, working with artisans around the region, restoring her own private village, and continuing to design for Tiffany. Like her work for Tiffany, Peretti herself has remained something of a lasting icon. Photos of the designer at work in her New York apartment from the 1970s capture the essence of what makes Peretti’s designs so alluring. The ease with she fuses the natural world with luxury are demonstrative of a designer’s natural instinct for shape, composition and the beautiful things in life.


Photography Teresa Ciocia
Fashion Oana Cilibiu
Make-Up Manuela Renée Balducci
Nails Roberta Rodi  
Casting Isadora Banaudi
Models ADELE aldighieri and VIKA yakimova at Fabbrica Milano and Margot hubac at THE LAB Photo Assistant Jacopo Contarini
Fashion Assistant Mathilde ProiettI
Production Thirteenth
Words Ellie Brown
Discover more on tiffany.com


  1. Corset ALICE PONS Skirt MISSONI Necklace ELSA PERETTI® SCORPION NECKLACE in 18K yellow goldBracelet ELSA PERETTI® FEATHER GREEN JADE CUFF in 18K yellow goldRing ELSA PERETTI® WAVE ring in 18K yellow gold
  2. Top ROBERTO CAVALLI Skirt PAULA CANOVAS DEL VASRing ELSA PERETTI® DIAMOND HOOP RING in 18K yellow gold with diamonds Carat total weight .10Bracelet ELSA PERETTI® FACETED CUFF in 18K yellow goldRing ELSA PERETTI® WAVE RING in 18K yellow gold
  3. Dress KENZO Necklace ELSA PERETTI® COLOR BY THE YARD in 18K yellow gold with emeralds and diamonds
  4. Necklace ELSA PERETTI® MESH SCARF in Sterling Silver with Keshi Pearl
  5. Dress THE ATTICONecklace ELSA PERETTI® MESH SCARF NECKLACE in 18K yellow gold 38 inch
  6. Top SPORTMAX Trousers JIL SANDER Necklace ELSA PERETTI® AEGEAN TOGGLE NECKLACE in 18K yellow gold 20 inch Bracelet ELSA PERETTI® WAVE FIVE ROW BANGLE in 18K yellow gold Ring ELSA PERETTI® WAVE RING in 18K yellow gold
  7. Dress VERSACE Necklace ELSA PERETTI® MESH EARRINGS in 18K yellow gold with round brilliant diamonds Carat total weight .14
  8. Ring ELSA PERETTI® CABOCHON RING  in 18K yellow gold with green jade, 19 mm wideRing ELSA PERETTI® CABOCHON RING in 18K yellow gold with green jade, 15 mm wideRing ELSA PERETTI® WAVE RING in 18K yellow gold

Motoi Yamamoto

«Our lives, that we live here now, it is always wrapped up in ephemerality»

Soft white piles of salt weave across the floor in delicate and intricate patterns that fill entire rooms. These transient installations are the result of hours of painstaking work from artist Motoi Yamamoto, for whom these creations are a way to remember his sister, who he lost in 1994 to a brain tumour, and his wife, who passed away in 2016 due to breast cancer.

Yamamoto states that he “keeps creating so that I will not forget memories of my family.” He considers the long hours he spends on each artwork as a way to help him to retain those memories. “I look for a convincing form of acceptance to come to terms with the parting of ways.”

On the last day of each exhibition, Yamamoto invites the public to help him destroy the artwork, gather up the piles of salt, and then return them to the sea. The cyclical nature of this act is inherently spiritual and references the cultural use of salt in Japanese traditions such as funerals. NR Magazine spoke to the artist about his practice.

I’ve noticed that you use a fine white seas salt to create your works, have you ever considered using other types of salt like pink rock salt which typically has larger crystals? 

I’ve only used it once in the past. In 2011, I used pink Himalayan rock salt in a large-scale solo exhibition in a museum. It was a work that looks like a Japanese rock garden. But one of the major reasons I use salt is its transparent whiteness and beauty as a crystal, so I think I will continue to use salt that looks white in the future.

Do you consider the process behind your work as a form of therapy that can help you work through and deal with the trauma of personal loss? 

The reason why I make art is to realise the farewell to the precious persons in a convincing way. I keep making art so that I don’t forget memories of those precious people.

«I see my work as ‘a mechanism to fight against the self-defence instinct of oblivion’.»

Salt has a particularly traditional and spiritual significance in Japanese culture, but also in many other cultures and practices around the world. What do you think it is about salt that makes it a globally significant and spiritual substance? 

Salt is a food necessary to support people’s lives. It is familiar but takes a considerable amount of time and effort to collect, which makes it both rare and essential. Another major advantage of salt is that food can be preserved and stored for a long time by salting. These are important functions of salt that support our life.

You have spoken about how you spend much of your time raising your daughter and that you want your work to look to the future. Do you involve your daughter in your art practice and does her view of the world offer you inspiration for your work? 

Basically, making art is a means to solve my own problems. But as she grew up, I sort of adopted changes in her will and mind and opened up opportunities to think about my work together with her. For example, one of the major reasons why I use blue as the underlying part of my work comes from the words my wife spoke before she died, but I asked my daughter about how bright and vivid the blue colour should be, and I decided to use the colour she chose for the work I am going to show this fall.

Both the process you use to create your works and then the returning of the salt to the sea when the installation is over, have an element of ritual to them. Do you think these acts could be considered a form of performance art? 

Certainly, there are performance elements in «public production» and «project to return to the sea». However, it only looks like a performance as a result if you try to categorise it. It’s not my intention to establish it as a performance.

The patterns that make up your work are very organic in their form, is there a particular reason behind this? How do you plan out the designs?

The labyrinth-like complex shape was originally triggered by the winding form of the brain as my sister died of a brain tumour. And labyrinths have a meaning of rebirth. I began to draw the swirling works «Floating Garden» because the form of a vortex has a similar meaning to that of a labyrinth, mainly in East Asia.

What was the most challenging installation you worked on and why? How did you overcome these challenges? 

One of the most difficult works was a solo exhibition at a church in Cologne in 2010 in cooperation with MIKO SATO GALLERY. From 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., I worked more than 14 hours a day. Because I decided that the area originally planned was not enough to face the majestic space, it was necessary to take far more time than initially planned. With the help of the gallerist, the director, and many others, I managed to create a very satisfying work. The time I spent in Cologne is my treasure.

There is an ephemeral nature to both your completed artworks and the medium you use to create them. Do you think that nature is something that originally drew you to creating art in this way?

Since my sister and wife passed away at a young age, I always spend a finite time, permanently conscious of death. Even while I’m answering your question I am using my limited lifetime. There is no doubt that it is a very precious and limited time. Our lives, that we live here now, it is always wrapped up in ephemerality.

What advice would you give young creatives who want to create installations but perhaps don’t have the space or the resources to do so? 

After my wife died, I cancelled all my work to rebuild my life with my daughter. And I printed out hundreds of photos of my memories with my wife and put them on the wall of my room. That’s when I became suddenly aware that creating an installation and putting photos on the wall are equivalent to me.

My aim is to remember people who are precious to me, and I want to make sure that I never lose sight of the fact that creating installations with salt is just a means to get closer to that aim.

What projects are you working on at the moment and what plans do you have for the future? 

This year I am working on a new project. The Oku-Noto International Art Festival is a big challenge. Create huge installations in what was once a nursery. It is a plan to combine an area that uses a large amount of salt with an area drawn with paint. I’ll paint the walls, ceilings and floors of the nursery with the light blue colour that my daughter chose.

From next year onwards, I would like to realise exhibitions overseas again, for example in Germany, France and other countries.

Collectif Scale

«We don’t have the pretense to guide people younger than us, because we can also learn a lot from a new generation, born « connected »»

Rods of light twirl and twist, a line of hula hoops loop around each other in a mesmerisingly technical dance, a gallery space is transformed into a kinetic universe of projected images, all to hypnotic soundtracks of electronic and classical music. Collectif Scale is a group of artists and technicians based in Paris who pool their respective knowledge and experience to create cutting-edge augmented installations. Since their beginning, they have “questioned the links between music and the visual, light and architectural design, entertainment and contemporary art, nature and the future, man and machine.” They seek to provide the answers to these questions through their installations. NR Magazine spoke to the collective about their practice.

Your CODA installation has been described as ‘the ballets of robots’. How do you feel about this description and do you think it’s accurate. 

The starting point of CODA was to work around with the idea of a choreograph of lights and create a piece like a dance show or a ballet, where we would replace the body of dancers with robots and light. But even if many people see in CODA a reference to pop-culture, such as Star Wars or video games, our first idea was to produce a ballet of lights, more than a ballet of robots.

You state the collective does not individually define themselves as artists. What do you define yourself as?

Scale is just the pseudo of a visual designer and this designer happens to be a collective of friends.  As we produce different kinds of installations, from scenic scenography for live shows to pieces for art exhibitions, we don’t like to describe ourselves as artists but prefer to consider ourselves as creative technicians or just scenographers.

You have said that the current health crisis has complicated presenting to the public. Would you consider making outdoor installations? 

Since the crisis, most of the festivals or productions try to match with some new rules (outdoor exhibition, outdoor festival, etc…) In order to continue showing installations, we have just finished our first outdoor and waterproof installation. We also have decided that our future installations must be outdoor compatible in any case.

Do you draw inspiration from other artists or creatives when conceptualising your work? 

Not really. Most of the artists and collectives are connected, like us, to these social networks, so we can see what is produced all around the small world of new media art. When we are looking for a new idea, in general, as much as possible, we try to imagine something that has never been produced. In the end, we can say that the work of the others allow us to create new things because we don’t want to reproduce something existing.

What was the most difficult project you worked on, what are some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them? 

CODA was probably the most challenging project because it was our first project using motors. After 10 years of using video and LEDs, it was quite difficult to appropriate a new medium. Using motors, bots and mechanics involved a lot of physical constraints (torques, gravity, collisions, kinetic, etc..) We had to work and learn a lot to produce CODA and be able to control robotic arms in real-time and on stage. It reminded us of when we were in school. You open a book, you read, you learn, you try, you experiment, etc…

In the end, CODA is a perfect synthesis of the last 10 years of learning and experimenting. Even if we had the idea 3 years ago, we could never have produced it before, because of our lack of skill and the accessibility to those robotic technologies. We are happy because it really marks the end of a period and the start of something new and very exciting. CODA is maybe our best cocktail of poetry and technology.

You have said it is possible to live with technology but not nature. Are there particular patterns or structures in nature that you reference in your work? 

When you’re using robotic arms like CODA, it’s a reference to nature because a robotic arm is a bad copy of the human body’s mechanics. Beyond this idea, we think that nature is, in any case, very inspiring. From an artistic point of view, nature always produces the most beautiful things one can see: a dancer will always be more beautiful than a robot, an eclipse will always be more impressive than a projector.  From a technical point of view,  physics, mathematics and sciences are there to explain and decode to us how nature works, because nature is always more advanced than human knowledge. We feel it’s natural to draw inspiration from nature more than other artists, and also there’s no problem with copyright.

You mention the group’s love of video games and that there is a level of interactivity between your work and the public. Do you have any plans to create fully interactive, game-like works in the future? 

For many years, we’ve talked about the idea to produce an art piece that looks like a game, including levels, gameplay, etc… We still haven’t found the right idea but we’re working on it. More than video games, we are also very inspired by roller coasters and amusement parks. It would be a dream to customise a roller coaster, to make it interactive and for it to become an art installation.

What was the most exciting project you worked on as a collective and why? 

In the beginning, each new project seemed more exciting than the previous one haha. It’s only after several months that we realise if that one project was really exciting or not. The most exciting one was probably when La Gaité Lyrique, a famous place for digital art in Paris, asked for us to produce an entire exhibition, our first one, in 2014.

Do you have any advice for young creatives looking to create ‘augmented art’? 

We are still young ;). We don’t have the pretense to guide people younger than us, because we can also learn a lot from a new generation, born « connected ».

Are you working on any projects at the moment and do you have anything planned for the future? 

We have just finished a new installation the last week. The tours, festivals and exhibitions seem to be starting again in few weeks so we will probably be on the road once more, and will try to show something in real life.

Denisse Ariana Pérez

“I keep coming back to water scenes. I keep coming back to rivers and lakes. I keep coming back to oceans. I like to explore the interaction of people, particularly of young boys and men, with water. Water can disarm even the most armed of facades. Becoming one with water is not about rushing but rather about flowing. And flowing is the closest thing to being.”

Denisse Ariana Pérez is a Caribbean-born, Copenhagen-based  copywriter, author and photographer. She is obsessed with words, people and imagery and finding ways to make them speak to one another.  Her photographic work has been featured on It’s Nice That, The Guardian, El Pais, VICE, Afropunk, Dazed, Ignant,  Marie Claire,  Hunger,  Atmos,  Sand Magazine, Paulette Magazine and Accent Magazine. 


Photography and words · DENISSE ARIANA PÉREZ

Daab Design

«An interesting part of our work is extracting from the client what they think normality is»

London architecture studio Daab Design is known for using ‘collaboration, inclusivity and craftsmanship’ to create the best spaces for their clients. They work on a range of projects, from small scale restorations to larger community-based infrastructure designs. NR Magazine reached out to speak to co-founders Dennis Austin and Anaïs Bléhaut about their practice. Dennis was trained in NYC and has 30 years experience designing award-winning projects in Europe and North America. Anaïs was trained in Paris and Rome and has 20 years of experience designing award-winning projects in Europe and North America. 

You have said your work reflects the cities you have lived in and the cultures you love. How does people’s approach to living spaces and housing differ from city to city and culture to culture, and how is that then translated into your work practice? 

Anaïs: I don’t think I can generalise how people in different countries live. With residential work, everybody lives differently. An interesting part of our work is extracting from the client what they think normality is. Often they will tell you to do the kitchen the normal way, but there is no normal way. You practice architecture differently in France and the UK. In France, a small office can do very large buildings, because the contractors are responsible for large amounts of the technical design, whereas in the UK the architects deliver much more details. 

Dennis: In the UK the planning policies have a stifling influence whereas in France it’s very much that there’s a strong concept which is then measured against what the policy suggests. Those differences have changed us as practising architects for the better. 

Is it often the case with older buildings, such as Unearthed Vault and Guild, that they have all suffered from ‘unsympathetic alteration’ which hide their original charm and craftsmanship? If so why do you think that is a common occurrence? 

Anaïs: It is often the case, yes, and there are different reasons for that. The first is that conservation put into law is a relatively new thing. There was an aspiration for conservation since the end of the 19th century but it was some time before it became law. The other reason that now the London housing prices are so high, interesting buildings like the Georgians, are often used as offices. Offices owners tend to not embrace ownership the same way as family homeowners do. The change of use from residential to offices is quite detrimental because the offices just want the building to be compliant and it’s not done sympathetically. 

Dennis: And the love and the charm of the existing building is at odds with its use as an office. What’s interesting now post-pandemic, is that we are beginning to consider 1970’s office buildings in the centre of the city and look to turn them into housing. It’s a whole other challenge. How do we bring daylight into those buildings? How do we retrofit? What is the approach? We have to really dissect these spaces architecturally. 

Do you think this change from offices into housing is going to affect housing prices in bigger cities? 

Dennis: It will not be the panacea where all of a sudden we’ve got this great selection of housing at all different price ranges and everyone is going to be comfortable. It will begin to change the perception and the uses. A great example is downtown Manhattan where, twenty years ago, there was a shift from office spaces into housing. It was an economic driver back then because they weren’t getting the rent from these offices. They took this buildings stock and then appropriated a new use. 

Anaïs: I think it could be a good case study to see how Downtown and the Wall Street area have been converting these offices into very successful flats. The conversion is quite interesting. The system is close to our micro house community. I think it can give some help to solve the housing crisis in London. 

I imagine there’s a lot of technical challenges when it comes to converting offices into housing?

Dennis: Yes. The biggest challenge will be natural light, how do we bring as much natural light as we need and there are ways of doing that.

Anaïs: Office building floor plans can be quite deep, with no natural light.

Dennis: But structural and service issues are less of a key problem. As soon as you start taking the building stock and getting operable windows you’re going to change everything. You will change how people perceive the space. You’re going to improve peoples health and wellbeing. Those buildings then have a natural network of infrastructure at their doorstep, whether it’s public transport, museums, culture, historic sites. If you imagine central London and all of a sudden a third of say the Leadenhall Building becomes residential, it would be quite interesting. 

With Unearthed Vault you spoke of the importance of bringing light into the space. Do you think that lack of good light is a common issue in housing in cities like London? What changes, small or big, can people make to improve that in their own living spaces?

Anaïs: Yes in the case of these Georgian houses and central London houses. It’s a bit different when you go outside that area, I’m always actually quite impressed by the small estates in the suburbs of London and how they still have a lot of natural light. 

When I worked on Vault I was impressed by the original Georgian design for the lower ground floor. It was quite amazing how they have an almost fully glazed wall in the rear kitchen area where household staff were working hard and needed natural light. They also had light wells on the ceiling to get as much natural light as possible, so they don’t spend a lot of money on candles and make the most of the day. 

The problem again is the price of the property, because people tend to look for every opportunity of gaining more internal space. These light wells which are so precious for natural light are often covered to make more internal space. The first day we went to Vault I just couldn’t orientate myself in this basement, it was horrible. As soon as we demolished coverings on the light wells, suddenly you could read the building. I mean the pictures speak for themselves, it was made with zero lighting, just natural light, and it’s beautiful. People realised how much more you gain from the quality of space on the property, rather than trying to gain one square meter of prime location.

I noticed that both in Vault and Guild the use of rich, bold and often quite dark colours on the walls. Is that a trend in interior design at the moment and if so is it here to stay? 

Anaïs: With these two projects, when we peeled back and stripped down the paint on woodwork we found 260 years of paint in different layers. A trend for a group of people or a society is actually reflecting the society itself. You could almost date the paint by its colour by what was a trend at the time and the Georgian trend was very interesting. Today people seem to enjoy almost the similar tones as the original Georgians did. It makes the space very vibrant because you embrace the architecture by using these tones. What’s good is you don’t damage anything if you use the right paint, so there’s nothing wrong with making the home your home with the paint you like. We choose colours that we felt were very Georgian but we incorporated in the original colour 200 years of fading. The red we chose for Guild at the time would have been a much more primary colour. When you incorporate the ageing of the colour, subconsciously you read the years as well. 

What were the most interesting colours you saw?

Anaïs: I’m always fascinated by the original Georgian chocolate brown colour. I’m less impressed with the layers of off-white or cream which flatten everything. It makes everything so dull I think. We found some black on some of the woodwork, which I wasn’t expecting but it looked very strong. I think that’s part of the reason in Guild we made the railing colour close to black. We used the colour reference called «Railings» from Farrow and Ball

When you renovate places do you feel like an archaeologist, peeling back the layers of time? 

Anaïs: Absolutely you feel like an archaeologist, and you discover things. With Guild again the hallways were covered in vinyl tiles. We took them off quite quickly but we couldn’t tell if we had concrete below, or stone, or what, because the glue was so horrible. It was only after when we cleaned all the glue that we found the most beautiful Portland stone. That moment is amazing.

With Sunnyside Yards you talk about the importance of fostering community by providing public spaces and programs to encourage residents and locals to interact. However, considering how people have become even more used to isolation due to the current pandemic, do you think that simply providing these spaces and programs is enough to cultivate community in these kinds of housing hubs? 

Dennis: Just providing space and suggesting usage, no. You need the backing of the community and residents. You need the will to create spaces where people will get together and foster well being. On the other hand, if the architecture doesn’t permit that, then you haven’t permitted that ability for people to take ownership of their own spaces. For years we were talking about how spaces are too small. We design everything down to the square centimetre and it’s cost-driven. But that doesn’t work, we need to provide housing that has greater access to exterior spaces. Not just a single tack on balcony but also communal exterior spaces

I think some really successful projects now are making landings at floor level where not only can you store your baby buggy but there are benches where you can sit you can chat with your neighbour. So the idea of saying ‘in this space people will feel good, this will be a wellbeing space’ doesn’t work. I think people now, post-pandemic, are thinking about how we can collectively figure out what to do with these spaces. We are no longer waiting for the governments to tell us this. And with Sunnyside, that’s what we tried to do, by creating these second-level podiums with these collective spaces again at lift landings. As you leave the lift you have access to an outside terrace, before you get into the corridor leading to your flat. 

When you work, how you keep in mind the importance of providing these spaces for fostering community and include that in your design? 

Dennis: Understanding how we live. Also, going back to your first question, by living and working in different countries.

Anaïs: But also it needs to come earlier from the community itself and community engagement during the project. Because the community have different needs and different requirements

Dennis: Look at affordable housing in the UK. Up until sixteen months ago, the driver was bicycle storage and bin storage, and that’s not enough anymore. Of course, bins and bikes are important but it has to be about how can a community of thirty-five units build in the ability to work from home. So everyone working in their flat can also have a space where people can get together and have access to independent spaces to work in. 

I’ve noticed a lot of roof space in London is often unused, do you feel like this is a waste of space? 

Dennis: Absolutely, we think it’s critical to promote exterior green space. The use of a roof should allow people to get up, get daylight and enhance views. It should allow you to meet, you should have access to a communal garden up there. There is low lying fruit in wellbeing and that is garden space, whether at ground level or roof. Talking to people, playing in the dirt, and seeing something grow is an amazing answer to feeling good. Plus roofs should also be used for renewable energy, grey-water collection, etc. 

Anaïs: Also a green roof is simply better for insulation, better air cleaning as well. I think also in London the pandemic revealed the underuse of the front garden. All these little front gardens that we used just put bins in, they are now becoming like a prime piece of land. Everybody wants a little chair and coffee place in them. It’s great to see how we can make these spaces work harder. 

With Micro/Macro you talk about rethinking communal spaces. Do you find that there is a big demand for micro-units/single person studios in cities like London where young workers are often forced to share their living spaces with strangers due to the cost of living? And how exactly will Micro/Macro tackle issues like these? 

Dennis: It’s interesting because neither of us is from the UK. There is such a rich culture of young professionals sharing flats here. In New York that isn’t the case as much and in Paris even less so. You would go to look for a chamber maid’s flat in Paris under the roofs. A tiny little nine square meters but you would be living alone. In the UK it is very much about coming together, with people you do or don’t know sharing a flat, and it becomes this greater network. I think for us Micro/Macro is about thinking architecturally, not just providing a cheap small flat. We took out in certain aspects like the full kitchen by bringing in a small kitchenette. You don’t need a dishwasher or a washing machine, those become communal uses and functions that you share on the ground floor. In Manhattan, the old laundry rooms were where you got to hear the gossip for the whole building.

Anaïs: That’s where you create bonds and friendships. 

Dennis: It’s about getting a small sleeping unit, I can have a friend over, I can read a book I can do what I need to do in my daily life. But when I’m participating in a communal event, doing my laundry, sharing thoughts, I want to do that with people, who are not necessarily my flatmates but are my community. For Micro/Macro we are very keen on making sure we can design these buildings where retirees are living on the same floor as the twenty-somethings. They can share life experiences and really create the essence of community. So it’s not about small, it’s about eliminating and reducing in your personal flat. What that does is it takes the pressure off your flat and you start organising your stuff a little differently. ‘I do have that quarter or half a cabinet in the laundry room, I will store it there.’ We have just been so used to consuming and consuming and thinking that we need this that and the other at our fingertips but we don’t. 

Are there any new technologies in the industry that you are particularly excited about, specifically in regards to providing sustainable and affordable housing? 

Dennis: I wouldn’t say it’s brand new but off-site prefabrication, often referred to as MMC. They aren’t incredibly modern I grew up in New York, next to a town which was part of a prefabricated housing scheme in 1957 and it was all flat-pack houses.  However, today we are at the cutting edge of prefabrication in housing. I think in terms of sustainability it does it in three broad efficient steps. One is it reduces waste as everything is built in a factory and it centralises deliveries. Secondly is those units built are incredibly well insulated and have amazing airtightness. Plus the quality is better because there’s less margin for error. Thirdly you are getting this incredibly shared benefit of the units together acting in unison, and all profiting from really efficient exterior insulation.

Anaïs: I think one interesting point is it has existed for some time. In Europe, they tried at the time to import these systems, because of all these benefits, but the cultural barriers against this kind of method of construction were so strong, In Europe, people wanted stone houses, and in the UK brick houses.

«It’s only now that we are on the verge of a sustainable and environmental collapse that people realise these tools and methods already exist.»

What was one of the most challenging projects you have worked on as a company and why? How did you overcome these challenges? 

Dennis: There’s a project we are working on now called Between the Lines. It’s a master plan of a neighbourhood here in Battersea and it’s an area that was formed by the rail companies of the mid 19th century. That infrastructure created huge barriers to connectivity between communities in Battersea and Lambeth. 

Anaïs: This railway company had a green light to take the land they wanted. So there is a lot of residual corners and no-mans-land amalgamated in an area that is quite close to where we work. 

Dennis: And the challenge is to communicate to people, the authorities, some of the landowners the chance of connectivity is there. We need to stop looking at these sites as giants and look at them at a pedestrian level. It’s all these series of brick arches and infrastructure that is very penetrable. So the challenge is communicating the worth and the value of this land.

Anaïs: It’s a complex site it’s quite hard to grasp. There’s a huge opportunity there. It’s an iceberg between Nine Elms and Battersea it’s fascinating.

Any other places that were interesting challenges? 

Dennis: Yes, we are working with Southwark council on affordable housing. There is a policy of looking at existing estates and trying to make them a bit more efficient at providing additional homes. So they are looking at taking out garages and filling in some missing teeth of spaces. Loads of great challenges, the scale though, unfortunately, is too small it needs to be bolstered up. 

Anaïs: For me, the great challenge that I enjoy very much at the moment is retrofitting services in listed buildings. There are so many options and people now are contemplating the fact that we have to be able to do something in these buildings. And there are different options, a mix between traditional design and really high tech elements. This is challenging, it’s case by case but it’s great.

What advice would you give to you creatives looking to get started in this field? 

Anaïs: We like working with students we have always an LSA student in the office and we enjoy mentoring very much.

Dennis: I think that the advice is to bolster your curiosity 

Anaïs: Travel, work in different cities. That brought us so much. 

Dennis: And if possible work in different languages and carry a sketchbook.

Anaïs: Draw draw draw. Meet people, talk to people, talk to architects. 

Dennis: The value of shared experiences and understanding what people have been through, is how major projects have been developed. It’s about piquing people’s curiosity. 

What projects are you working on currently and what do you have planned for the future? 

Dennis: Between the Lines is the real current project that’s quite interesting

Anaïs: Also some listed buildings and conservation areas. 

Dennis: And the Homegrown Plus initiative that we are working on with Neil Pinder. It’s a platform to provide access for architecture students and young architects who are from non-traditional and traditional backgrounds. People of all ethnicities and backgrounds working through university. How can we, as an office, begin to disseminate some of our knowledge and our experiences to this greater network? Homegrown Plus is about bolstering access to a whole population who have been historically denied access to the study of architecture 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Dennis: I think for us. we are very much a small-large practice. We opened our office after having worked for thirty years or so and it’s about bringing our experience to our own work. We are doing that because the joy of being in control of your own destiny is just amazing. We feel we can offer more and give back to society within our own practice than working with bigger names.

Anaïs: And we still feel that as a small office we are agile enough to integrate larger teams if needed on infrastructure projects. We are really happy to work on infrastructure projects with other architects.

Dennis: As a small practice we do collaborate with larger practices and it’s a cross-pollination of practice experience that is quite interesting 

Anaïs: It keeps you fresh in your thinking and your design. Nothing is taken for granted.  


Photography · JIM STEPHENSON

Fabian Oefner

«discoveries in science and technology have always been a catalyst for the arts»

Destruction and creation go hand in hand in Swiss artist’s Fabian Oefner’s work. Everyday objects are sliced up and then reconstructed in resin or placed between the pages of a book, allowing the viewer to see the secret inner workings of a Nike shoe, a voice recorder, a camera and so on. Sports cars appear to have been caught mid-explosion, with cogs, gears and screws floating in chaotic unison, but are instead the combined product of hours of individual photographs. Drones map out the changes to a glacier over the last hundred years in eerie long exposure photographs. Oefner’s work straddles the so-called divide between art and science highlighting the interconnectivity of the two subjects.

You are most well known for combining science and art in your work, but do you not think that all art requires an element of science and vice versa? 

Absolutely. To be quite honest, I always found it strange to be identified by combining art and science. To me that’s the most natural thing. If you look at the history of art, the combination of art and science has always been there. Da Vinci and Michelangelo’s close studies on the anatomy of the human body allowed them to create their masterful paintings and sculptures, Vermeer’s use of a camera obscura resulted in these marvellous compositions of his, etc. The list goes on and on.

«I believe that discoveries in science and technology have always been a catalyst for the arts.»

How did you decide on the objects you used in Heisenberg, you mentioned that they were all connected to memory but was there any other criteria you used to select them? 

Memory definitely has been the most important deciding factor. But I also have to add that the series is not done yet, those are just the six initial objects. I would love to expand the series to about 12 sculptures. Objects that might be included are typewriters, a violin, the first Mac computer and a Moog synthesizer.

Much of your work requires hours and hours of time to complete. Do you consider the lengthy process part of the work, a kind of performance art as it were? 

That’s an interesting thought…one of my favourite quotes about art is one by Yves Klein who said: “My works are only the ashes of my art” I can relate to that. To me, the art is hidden somewhere in the process. But

«I think to a certain degree that process is manifested in the final sculpture.»

With your exploded car series you had the opportunity to work on a real life-sized car, have you ever considered working with something even bigger? 

I have, yes. I would love to create a Disintegrating image of a Blackbird SR-71, the fastest plane ever created. Since this plane is more than 30 feet long and the few surviving examples are all in museums. So the challenges to create the image are tremendous. But I guess that’s one of the reasons I want to and eventually will create this image.

What’s the most challenging project you have worked on and why? How did you overcome those challenges?

“Timelines”, my work on the changing landscapes in the Alps has been very complex. The technology to create these images is still in very early stages, so you have to be very flexible in adapting to what’s possible and what is not. Also, the environment in which these images were created was a challenge, high up in the mountains, during the night, with wind gusts at 100 km/h and snowfall. At this point, you sometimes question yourself why not choosing something simpler to do.

But in the end, those projects are always the most rewarding, the ones, where it’s just one obstacle after the next. But

«if you persevere and keep that vision of yours in front of you, then eventually you will succeed.»

What advice would you give to young creatives who have an interest in both art and science? 

To believe in their work. That it means something to the world, that you are creating it. And to not look left or right, worrying about whether their work is Instagramable or not. Sooner or later, you will find the right people, that will appreciate what you do.

You consider your practice as a form of modern archaeology and you mentioned finding a note in one of the cameras you deconstructed. Have you ever found anything else like this? 

I cannot think of something tangible right now like the note, but I often wonder about what the story of all those objects is, for example, the cockpit voice recorder. How many parts of the world has it flown over, what conversations between pilots it has recorded. It would be fascinating to know the answer to these questions.

Much of your work involves deconstructing and examining man-made objects, have you ever considered doing the same with forms found in nature? 

No, this is something I haven’t considered for my work. I use a different iconography than objects from nature to convey my ideas.

What was the artwork that you felt the most connection to and excited you the most? Why that one in particular? 

It’s the series of sculptures I am working on now, which are called “Momentum”. The objects will be published later this year. 6 sculptures that depict a moment in time in three dimensions. I loved them so much because they are taking everything I learned so far to the next level. I cannot wait to share them with you.



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