Stromboli is a design and design auto-production label based in Paris and Mexico, created by the prolific Clémence Seilles, whose work redefines a new way to create, transcending today’s limiting segmentation. Clémence has very kindly accepted an interview while she was moving to Mexico. So it is a rather hectic moment for her, and at the same time, it is the beginning of something new.
What is your perception of the distinction between art and design? Is your aim to blur this frontier?
I have blurred the frontier maybe working as both designer and artist, and I think we can do that. It keeps in my character the dancing going from a system to another. Then I don’t provide or express the same expertise in those two different areas, which I don’t recognize as the same thing. It just happens to be clear that attitudes, logics, outcomes, goals and sphere of people are different.
My perception of design is very practical, as responding through object, furniture and space to “what is needed to be done”, as answering a need and make it function for the present situation. This is the dry and pragmatical first lead I follow before to reach the very subjective angle of style and attitude.
My participation to exhibitions in galleries or institutions answers to an ideal of collective actions, producing situations for exchanges and a formal experimental ground which finds a way sometimes to translate into applied objects. To choose two recent projects: the association Mortal Recordings I have created this year, which goals is to produce, record and perform impro music in a transcendental space inviting musicians, visual artists and poets to perform non stop on a handful of days. Mortal Recordings first album will be release early 2017. Here is a video of the last session in Paris La Villette.
And the late collaborations with Dutch artist Melanie Bonajo on developing cinema sets for her film series Night Soil, on view for their latest version at the Foam Museum in Amsterdam till december 7th.
Your studio is based in Paris and Mexico City, where does this double identity come from? How does it influence your work? What is the story behind Stromboli, when was it founded and why?
The installation of a studio in Mexico City is the big news of this year. It’s has been a huge crush with Mexican culture and environment when I first went two years ago, discovering the very alive and diverse Mexican crafstmanship as much as industrial potential. Therefore I organized to partially move my activities from France. It is a good moment first personally, I just turned 32, so “hey, why not?”, nothing is so strong installed yet that I have much to loose, and it corresponds with setting up Stromboli Associates in February 2016, which among collaborations with brands, intends to develop toward interior architecture and production of our own lines of furniture. I keep the studio in France, as part of the double identity of Stromboli Associates, which will only gain I believe from the duality of the two worlds. It is too early to say how it influences the work, but Mexico City and Paris surely don’t offer the same opportunities neither the same dynamics, and Stromboli Associates is developing on both sides.
Could you tell us a bit more about the Dirty Art Department?
I co-founded the Dirty Art Department at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam in 2011 on a joyful and critical urge to create a study program for designers and artists interested into applied situations. Students develop individual or collective works inside situations brought from the department most likely such as a restaurant, a rave, a hotel, a market….or from students themselves as the Post-Norma squat in 2014, where living, working, performing and sharing were all to be invented in a huge free space in north Amsterdam, from which doors had be broken to get in, and a start to learn this skill. So the dirty art department intends to support and initiates situations and actions that move individuals toward a certain independence.
You have collaborated with several tremendously cool brands/designers/artists such as OXYDO Eye-Wear brand, Andrea Crews, Elisa Valenzuela, Fabien Cappello, Travis Broussard, Theo Demans, Melanie Bonajo, Sanks design label and Mortal recordings music rooms? Could you tell us a bit more about these projects?
Every collaboration has its own way to go with their own intentions. OXYDO Eye-wear brand commissioned me for 2 collections. It went really smooth and fast due their great knowledge in production and management giving me pretty much “carte blanche”. On the first collection I studied architecture of antic bridges, which resulted on dramatic glamorous shades. On the second collection coming out now, the intention was more to bring super light glasses, with simple round shape and playful inserts of acetate, quite cartoonesque.
The collaboration with fashion label Andrea Crews was really engaging with the production and revisit classics cuts of the brand into craftsman batik production we undertook in my atelier, at the time in Berlin, that’s already back to 2010/11.
Sanks Design Label was an ambitious collective experiment I took part to set up from Amsterdam with 6 other designers to create in 12 hands collections of table wear objects on the moment of “Salone de Mobile Milan“. We develop 2 collections.
Collaborations with artists and designers are always showing on the pass as encounters and opportunities re being pushed. It’s definitely a character of Stromboli Associates to include external collaborators.
As a conclusion I wanted to add some quotes of Clémence I have found on the interview page of her website: « I tirelessly dodge having to justify myself as an artist or a designer and explain why I created the “dirty artist” designation, which symbolises that universal position of the creator before the historical split between applied arts and fine arts ». Clémence says in another interview: « A designer evaluates a need, a context, and answers it consequently with the intention of creating a useful response. » and « I am a designer because I am concerned with setting up life situations, and present inspiring outcome for people, and that’s what a designer is doing. » So looking at the way Clémence has answered this interview despite a very complicated schedule, and at the way she defines her ideal vision of a creative mind, to be at the disposal of the people, I would say that her creativity _ her contagious love of dirty esthetics _ becomes more of a generous act of giving and improving things for others. And perhaps that is why she is still a designer even though she is definitely a great artist. This is not the last time we talk about Clémence in Hlow.