Designers often tend to deny the influence of changing tastes on their work. William Morris’s “joy in labour,” or the Bauhaus principle of “truth to materials,” are well- known principles of this kind; Charles Eames once advised, “innovate as a last resort – more horrors are done in the name of innovation than any other.” But of course, Charles and Ray Eames are celebrated as among the greatest design innovators of all time, and Arts and Crafts and Bauhaus knockoffs can be found in any home furnishings store.
In practice, modern design has been constantly subsumed within the imperative toward the new, on the assumption that the market will quickly burn through even the best ideas. The question is how to achieve objects of inherent value against this backdrop – to accept the fact that design operates (for all practical purposes) oriented to an insatiable market, yet one that can, on occasion, produce ideas of transcendent grace. Here is where Fredrikson Stallard come in. Look at any of their work, and you will immediately notice a certain quality of speed. At their best, Fredrikson Stallard’s objects are brilliant in just the same way that a great pop song is. There’s depth of feeling and thinking, but also a killer hook.
Fredrikson Stallard make no claims on the modernist high ground, in which objects are conceived as optimal, efficient solutions, end points of rigorous analysis. They are intuitive makers, and happy to accept the conditions of constant flux – that they are only as relevant as their last idea. They see that the values of their discipline are contingent, not timeless.