Art & Photography

One Room, Three Global Names

Edward Randell chats to founder Constantin Bjerke about their new exhibition, showcasing their favourite British artists: Sir Terence Conran, Kate MccGwire and Matt Pyke

The first exhibition curated by the online video-magazine springs from the same philosophy as their website, offering artists and designers a platform to share their stories, inspirations and working processes. This month, the intimate Front Room, St Martin’s Lane hosts three of’s favourite artists, accompanied by a rolling programme of creative activity.

The first week celebrates a British design hero, Sir Terence Conran and features several key pieces from the Design Museum’s recent  retrospective of his work.

The story of his 60-year, multi-dimensional career is told through chairs and furnishings from his London restaurants, including Bibendum, Lutyens and Boundary. Presented alongside Sir Conran’s work is a piece entitled ‘In-Betweening Clock’ by the up-and-coming designer Hye-Yeon Park, whose numbers morph and merge hypnotically.

Lasting only a week, Sir Conran’s exhibition gives way to Kate MccGwirefrom Monday. Best known for her striking abstract forms – made from feathers and other ‘found’ materials – MccGwire will bring together objects that inspire her to make a so-called “cabinet of curiosities“.

In the final week, digital artist Matt Pyke will present a selection of playful pieces that manage to find warmth and emotion in strings of code and formulas.

PORT’s Edward Randell caught up with founder Constantin Bjerke to talk about the site’s foray into live events.

Why did you choose these three artists?

Constantin Bjerke: We wanted to pick people we feel are very accomplished in their fields, and to choose a broad mix of ages and industries. So, Kate MccGwire is a fantastic artist, Terence Conran is obviously a designer and Matt Pyke is very involved in the digital space.

It cannot just be Anna Wintour who decides who is a great new fashion designer – it should be decided by their talent.

All three are British – we felt, if we’re starting out in London, it would be good to start with people close to home. Throw in what’s going on on a daily basis – silent discos, gigs, live jewellery making, pottery,and cooking – it really represents our ethos. When I started I felt there wasn’t anything out there that really showed the diversity of creativity in one place. You have fashion magazines, you have photography blogs, and it’s all very’ siloed’. But consumers have become very hybrid, and so has creativity. I mean, you’ve got Zaha Hadid designing shoes, Karl Lagerfeld doing photography – there’s this cross-pollination going on.

Terence Conran embodies the idea of cross-pollination, doesn’t he?

CB: Yes, and he very much represents our philosophy of elevating talent – the Design Museum is based on his support and donations.

He’s probably the most holistic and comprehensive designer that this country has brought forward.

Conran started his first business in 1952. What have been the most dramatic changes in the design world since then?

CB: I think the Internet is the key game-changer, because it allows everyone a means to reach an audience. Today anyone can commercialise, monetise and distribute their work. What we’re trying to do is break down the dictatorship of what is ‘good’ and what is not, reigned over by certain editors. It cannot just be Anna Wintour who decides who is a great new fashion designer – it should be decided by their talent.

As an online company, what are the advantages of putting on live events?

CB: Well, there’s a business aspect to it, which is that if you want to build a brand that’s successful and recognised, you’ve got to be able to be experienced by your audience in the real world.And then it’s a no-brainer from a creative perspective – if you’re telling stories about people who create things, you want to see, touch and experience their work.

One Room, Three Global Names is at The Front Room, St Martins Lane  until 31 January