COMMON AW14 Print Spotlight

  • With LC:M underway, David Hellqvist talks to Saif Bakir and Emma Hedlund about enlisting the help of German digital artist Gerhard Mantz
    As one of the new brands showing during LC:M for the first time, Swedish COMMON are partly responsible for injecting new and exciting blood into the AW14 season. But both Saif Bakir and Emma Hedlund have been around the block; the two of them studied in the UK before moving to Paris to work with as diverse brands as Wooyoungmi and Kanye West. And somewhere between the UK, France and Sweden, COMMON found its unique aesthetic, and it’s one Port has highlighted in the past. Described, by COMMON themselves, as “London-edge, Paris-chic and Scandinavian minimalism”, the brand personifies the clever yet elegant 21st century wardrobe; suave cuts and premium fabrics mixed with technical solutions and street savvy prints.

    The prints have, with their seasonal diversity, become a COMMON trademark. Each collection hosts a new guest collaborator, an artist whose work COMMON admires and respects. Swedish bird illustrator Lars Jonsson kicked it off with AW12, legendary textile designer Hans Krondahl took over for SS13 and graphic design duo STSQ covered the AW13 season. For SS14, COMMON collaborated with the New York-based graffiti artist Rubin. Now, for Autumn Winter 2014 and COMMMON’s LC:M debut, Bakir and Hedlund have enlisted the help of Gerhard Mantz, one of Germanyʼs most well-known digital artists.

    David Hellqvist: Where did you encounter Mantz’s work?
    COMMON: First time we saw Gerhardʼs work was at the DAM Gallery in Berlin. The main focus of the gallery is early pioneers of computer art and Gerhard Mantz’s work instantly caught our eyes and fascinated us.

    David: What attracted you to his work?
    COMMON: Gerhard’s virtual images seem sculptured to evoke feelings and moods. They leave you in ambivalence. At first they appear realistic, in some cases even photographic. But, at a closer inspection, the seemingly realistic details shift to reveal a strange virtual realm that really draws you in.

    Images courtesy of Gerhard Mantz

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    David: How is his work relevant to COMMON?
    COMMON: Mantz creates his art objects with a computer, independent of the limitations and of the physical world. Our inspiration for AW14 is Tech-Noir and the engineered, polished and purified world of Gattaca where the past and the future are combined and interconnected to create a perfect balance. Mantz work reminded us a lot about this utopian and model world created in the film.

    David: How will this be incorporated into the collection?
    COMMON: The colour palette of Mantz’s work has become the highlights of the season and his virtual images has been reworked and digitally printed onto technical fabrications for outerwear and sweaters.

    David: What is this particular piece called?
    COMMON: It’s called ‘Blinde Freiheit’ and was made by Gerhard in 1996

    David: Itʼs computer generated – how is it a development on prints in prior seasons?
    COMMON: Our collections are continuous, a story under constant development. While last seasonʼs collaborator, graffiti artist Rubin,creates his graffiti by hand it hold a similar complex, futuristic and almost virtual form as the work of Mantz. They are both unique in their field and so are the artworks they’ve created for COMMON.

    David: Why always include a new artist each season?
    COMMON: The idea behind our collaborations is to continually develop exciting and unique products, which reflect the ethos of the brand as well as serve as a complement to the collection. The collabs are always exciting as they force us to step out of our comfort zone and to create something from an existing idea that is not initially ours and might not have been our own obvious choice. The resulting products reflect our style and ethos and always serve as highlights of the collections.

    David: How do you, generally, find them?
    COMMON: We always find inspiration in our surrounding and in current events. Our eyes are always open to new interesting art and design. We don’t always search for our collaborators, it more happens so that we stumble upon them.

    David: What are you looking for?
    COMMON: Challenges.