All about the Context

The question we always ask ourselves about our own work is “Why?”
We hope there are many elements within the text of our book that will surprise, inspire, and explain more about us and why we do things the way we do, with context by some of the great critics spanning art and design.

Deyan Sudjic gives an insightful foreword from his perspective as director of the Design Museum for 13 years. Curator, writer and historian Dr Glenn Adamson gives the most in-depth account of our world that we have ever undertaken, which has been so insightful to us also in understanding our own work in a historical perspective. Essays by writer Caroline Roux and art critic Richard Dyer highlight the artistic context of our work, its meaning, beyond aspects of function or materiality.

Our studio is very much run as most artist studios, our past work informs the new work and in such a way builds up a repertoire, a visual library that we can pull references from to new work. It was difficult in the early years as there wasn’t anything to pull our references from so we had to create our own, and gradually build up this continuous evolving library. We wanted the context to reflect this and it was of importance that the authors were the same high caliber as the design of the book itself, with a strong background in the field of both art and design, so they could write with meaning and understanding, and carry authenticity about our story to you.

The foreword is by Deyan Sudjic. As head of the Design Museum in London for 13 years from 2006 he has been a constant presence alongside our development, as he highlights in his description of the three occasions the Design Museum has shown our work, and how each example is a strong narrative of the development of the way we work and our influences and explorations.
“Glenn Adamson’s exploration of the work of Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard is more than a conventional monograph. It offers an insight into their work, and the extent to which it is a highly contemporary version of what design can be. He takes Fredrikson Stallard’s work as the starting point for a revaluation of the meaning of object, making, and understanding them”

“A Unique World” is an essay by writer Caroline Roux, who with her in depth experience in art, design architecture and fashion, has been an important critic and friend throughout our career. In her essay she draws parallels between the emotional, spatial aspects of our work and the impact created by the sculptures of Richard Serra, and affinity of the performative nature fundamental to the energy of our process with the works of Paul McCarthy.

In art critic Richard Dyer’s essay “Beyond Design: Outside of Art” he puts forward his view on how our work has benefited from being beyond the traditional constraints of design and at the same time outside some of the limitations the art world, and how he feels to categorise our work as either is “unnecessary, and in fact redundant”. The essay includes his take on the links between our work and the works of Mark Rothko, Anish Kapoor and John Chamberlain, and how our assignment of notional function within much of our work is “a paradigm shift in how the notion of a sofa can act as an emotional and poetic touchstone for the imagination – a contemporary sculpture”

Dr Glenn Adamson is the central author of our book. He is a prominent curator, writer and historian across the fields of design, craft and contemporary art, and was the director of Museum of Art and Design in New York and head of research for the V&A. We spent many weeks with Glenn in New York discussing our journey from the small towns we both grew up in, how we decided to embark on this extraordinary adventure of a career in art. How we met, our lives: on and off stage, what inspires and informs us, what we have learned and our efforts to support and give this knowledge back. His insight is fascinating in the way he begins to make sense of what we do in a historical context. The conversation awoke so many things for us that this dialogue began to inform us of our future work. It is a great feeling, it is an achievement that we now are so happy to be able to share with everyone in this most fantastical book of our first chapter.