ICEBREAKERS | Speakers Corner
Hello, good morning and good afternoon, Sam. It's good to have you here in the conversation. Because you're both so fascinated by algorithms, by patterns, by a lot of things that for me are a little bit difficult to understand and a bit weird. I would like to introduce first Anne, what are you doing today? What is your main job today and how are you working also in relation to companies making that brand identity, working with all that technology? Well we work with a lot of companies as their creative partners. So we work with Dior, Cartier, Issey Miyake, Nike, Vuitton, and our projects, they originate in identity, but then they expand into architecture, interiors, facades, or all kinds of, for example, even master planning. And our approach is about technology and we're looking for creative ways to use it. So I can tell a little bit more like what kind of tricks we're using. But, right now, there are
kind of three ongoing projects that we do and we try to use with all of our clients. One is a visual exploration that actually allows us to look closely at images, at existing images of the company. And since we work so much with large brands that have this amazing history, it's really a lot of materials that we can look at and we devise different technologies or build custom databases to look at these. The next one is work with patterns and the most recent one is transforming this into time. Actually being able to look at the development
of shapes and patterns in time. It might be a good thing to talk about that to understand where you would like to go with technology. Well, I suppose from a background point of view I approach projects and work in a similar way to Anne, but that’s kind of process usually lends its way towards the actual production product and also the sort of creation of the sort of philosophy behind why that product needs to exist. So, from that point of view, I go quite deep into the history of philosophy, mystery of sciences, algorithms, why people make the decisions they make, how humans behave. And through this process, I have worked with a variety of brands, in tandem with the University of Central London and the Institute of Making. And this year I've been sitting on these projects for a while. And I kind of just wanted to really start
to explore them a little bit more and some of the projects themselves are, but the one you mentioned, "the image of thoughts" basically challenged the idea of the fallibility of language. I've always found, I suppose from a macro level, I've always found computers and algorithms, quite a beautiful thing. Luxury fashion really struggles with technology. I think they find technology not very sexy. Unfortunately, these sort of things, have hampered the growth of projects that I wanted to do in the past. So this point, I just decided that I would
actually go ahead with it. I worked with this creative algorithmic processor based between Canada and America and New York. And together we wanted to challenge, looking at the works of Derrida, Wittgenstein, the fallibility, as I mentioned, of language. So we started this project together where we took the evolution of language, we showed how language itself potentially can be affected by invasions, by cultural slurs, changing of languages. And what we wanted to do is that we wanted to see that sort of track of evolution towards what language is doing, and then push the language even further and see if we can get closer to meaning as Wittgenstein wanted in the "Tractatus"; he wanted to find what language potentially could do for us and not be so constricted by what it's actually doing organically really. Anne, tell me what was your reaction? Why? Well, I think that's the most interesting thing that happened when, they happen by chance. So you do something
very intentionally and you set up a process and then something goes wrong, Or maybe we just, you know, we're kind of clicking away. I think the worst thing is to be very serious while you're working. I know that you both are interested in errors, the error of weaving, the error of..and so on. Could you go deeper in that concept, Sam? Yeah. I mean, I always find there's an argument that people always make that the reason why creativity through humans is always going to stand out above creativity over robotics or algorithms Is that there's the fallibility of error is what makes human art beautiful.
I've always been quite fascinated by this and the more that science has kind of read into it, the big thing that I've kind of been processing the most is this idea of the non-free will. So everyone believes that they have the free will to make every decision they make. But ultimately through a variety of tests, which I'm not going to go into all of them because there's a lot and it takes quite a while to explain, but actually this argument, to say that we don't actually have free will, or the decisions that we make are based of, nurtured our DNA processes that occurred for us in the past. So if that is the case and everything that we're doing, even the mistakes that we're making are, they're kind of already outlaid for us to process them and do them. Now, there's no reason why you can't do the same thing with computers. Things like chaos algorithms, there's an artist I've always loved called John Cale and John Cage as well. John Cage and John Cale both used to produce this thing called "prepared piano",
where they'd take equipment and they'd put nuts and bolts and scissors and stuff, and they'd be able to resonate noises that were not what that instrument was supposed to do. And in theory, it's just processing errors into the instrument. So for me, it was like, how do you take that to the next level? How do you start making errors for something that is seen as so perfect.
But it really isn't because you can cause a lot of mischief and problems by putting code errors into algorithms or into machinery, like we mentioned, like weaving machines. So I just find that quite interesting. Yes, yes, yes. For sure. It's actually also..I love this work and, you know, it seems that machines can actually be much more creative than humans, but it's always the interaction between humans and computers, how you program and how you interact with the computer. And that's actually where we try to sort of subvert the way a program is working. Right? So you can
say that, you know, any computer program that we use, it was built to do certain things. So you can draw a rectangle or you can move or scale. But how actually you can play against this program and do something that was not predetermined to do it. So it's this kind of interaction. I was just gonna say, it's the same as Anne was saying, bang on, it's like people often talk about how important craft is. And I love craft. It's like, I never knew another business that focuses on the encouragement of craft. But people obsess over the historical processes of craft and machinery and men,
women putting their hands together and making something. But all of those things are exactly what Anne said that is still the same process of using a machine or a tool to process and make through human thought. Now doing that same process in algorithms or within high-level machinery is exactly the same process. So it's just the next level up of craft, basically for me. I know you're both interested in 3D printing. How do you see the connection with algorithms and the errors? Lots of errors happen in 3D printing for sure. But I think that's going into this,
what kind of machine is used If we are talking about computers, then we're producing bits, hopefully we're producing meanings. But if we start to talk about, you know, how we make, how we build things that we designed, or how we weave, or how we make, a kind of matter, basically, out of the computer, it's a completely different story in terms of what kind of errors can happen. And it becomes already way, way more complicated. Sam of you were also hoping to do objects as an artist. I mean, artistic work. How do you feel about that with the 3d printing? Is it working? At what stage are you in this process? Again, I've got a printer in Switzerland that I'm working with at the moment, and it is on trial level because I think, I mean, the things that I want to do with 3d printers have to take a lot of trust by the person who owns the printers, because I kind of want to put material through them that isn't conventional. We spoke a little bit about this and herself, quite serendipitously, was interested in running clay and cement through machines.
And I've been trying to ultimately 3d printers will print anything that can become liquid form. So metals..I've seen works by some artists to melt down the processes that they're using to generate the 3d and then reprint that into an item. So anything that can melt down and do it, is game. But it's making sure that those people who own the machines are like, okay, yeah, we can clean them afterwards, or it's not going to break the thousands of pounds worth of machines. So yeah, we're close. Anne what is your latest project that you like so much? Well, the latest thing that we built actually, that's the thing I sent you this morning. It tracks the development of form in time. So kind of, to go back a little bit, what
we're trying to do, you know, since we always work with computers together. We're trying to understand how actually..what's the best way to do it. And, you know, the typical thing, if you work with any program is kind of command response. So you always go back and forth.
And another way is that you can use an existing algorithm. So something like Voronoi, for example, algorithm that sort of has a certain look that you can use. And that's why we can very easily recognize both designs that are made with this back and forth process and we can recognize visually parametric designs. We can recognize these algorithms that we
know already. So for us, in a way it's not a good way because we work with brands that all have to be differentiated from each other. The old have to be unique and look different. We cannot allow any certain recognizable look that will be the same across different brands that we've worked with. So what we're trying to do is build these kinds of..maybe they are black boxes in a way. You put something, some input on one side and you get a result on the other. But this was completely custom built, a bit of code that is done for a specific project.
And before we have been always working in 2d and then transferring it already by hand into 3d; Thinking about materials, etcetera. And I always felt that the process itself is so much more interesting the way that form is put together. So now, we're trying to actually capture it and see how form can develop in time. So get this kind of time object that not only happen as one image but it's continuous.
So that's, in a way, what was interesting. And I think part of it was this lockdown and the fact that we could no longer make these things that are, for example, a facade in the store. A person walks around so the object stands still, but it's still animated through the movement of the person. But if we don't have that, then the movement has to be somehow built into the object itself. There is a link between not only the technical, but also the fashion element, you know. Sam, you're a designer,
you have your own brand, Raiment, you have also..you're doing a lot of consultancy lately. I heard you're quite busy. Yes, that's good news. And so I wanted to ask you a little bit about the shift in fashion, like high fashion, luxury, all those big brands where Anne you are working for. Sam talk a bit about your consultancy and how your brand is doing and what you actually, how do you feel about fashion today? Be careful! Because you want to be in the “Speakers Corner” and this is the "Speakers Corner". We have to say what we think here. Yeah, go! So, I suppose when you talk about and being someone who can actually say something for free, like in terms of being.. ..trying to work out the best way to put this..but i suppose being freelance to me, which has been probably, I mean, so, I used to work for a luxury brand in the last few years. And I was based in-house before then I was freelance. I had
a load of different consultancy gigs. And I had started at my own brands, which I got investment for. I came back earlier this year, obviously to what happened with coronavirus and, as you know, been getting more and more disillusioned with the industry itself. I'll go into that in a little bit more detailed in a minute, but I think, also basically what happened with my brand, we had a second season, we had a really good season. We took like 40 stores, we're brand new brand, which is really good. We were picking up like some really good department stores and luxury boutiques. Obviously Coronavirus happened, all of those wholesale banks wouldn't lend us any money. Everyone canceled their orders or if they didn't
then, like I said, I couldn't get money from the banks to loan because it was too much a volatile market. The whole world kind of changed. I was thinking, I really value the life I lead in London. I really love it here. I found the city I was in quite restrictive. I found what I was doing quite restrictive, I found the industry quite difficult. And I thought this is really troublesome. And kind of long story short this year has kind of really changed that. I think more companies now have become aware that it is possible to work abroad.
It is possible to have people digitally communicate and design is possible to, I don't know work in this way that involves less physical presence and more openness to innovative ideas that come over, come online. So for me working freelance has been really good. I think it's, in some ways, I suppose, being freelance, you're free to say what you want. There is still that fear of longevity to the work that you have. But I suppose in terms of that, now it enabled me to be more selective with who I work with. I think in the
past for other companies, if you worked in a house, I think you start developing the worst like Stockholm syndrome, in effect going along with that house's narrative, go along with the house typologies, what it is to deal with sales, buying, who the consumer is and then I think ultimately when you're in that bubble, working in luxury, you sort of sink deeper and deeper and deeper into this reactive design decisions, which is probably the only way I can really put it. The collection starts from a point of view that's now mirroring the consumer rather than creating something new and groundbreaking. And because ultimately I suppose new and groundbreaking is a risk and a risk means money and risking money is like the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with your career, I suppose. It's like, it's really scary. And I think, I think for me now working in this way, and now there's this big shakeup in the industry where, I don't know, yeah, I think freelancers now are really vital to businesses because it's important that they come in to shake the sort of status quo of the brand that ultimately it's, I suppose it's like a fresh set of eyes for the company.
You're somebody coming in with a completely different aspect, from a completely different, maybe, cultural notion. Seeing a planet at the moment, which is shut down literally in different times in times of the week, day, month, everything changes. So I think it's really important. And I think at the moment, I think people are starting to notice that maybe I was saying something right before all this happened and now they want a piece of it. Always good things in the bad things. It's always love and hate.
And it's always a struggle if something happens like we had this year, some good things happened as well. I mean, like I was writing those containers, I didn't know when it was going to be. And here we sit talking to each other. So it's sometimes a break that we need and a shakeup to say hello in the morning, what are we doing with our lives, where are we going? I was just, sorry to interrupt. So, before miss the point, I was going to start with that.
Yeah, exactly. What you're saying it's really weird, I mean, it's not weird how we've got into it, but that idea of you valuing products that you've owned 40 years, like, the idea of craft and consideration of design, somehow, well, obviously through neo-liberalism, mass manufacture, mass consumption, we've now being kind of blindsided towards what is important in design. And, I think for me..I mean, I know I mentioned before when we were talking about this, before you mentioned this idea of wild design being important and I think, sorry, wild ideas. And I was going to bring up this
thing then, because I put a note on it. But I think wild ideas are really important and shaking up the industry is very important. But ultimately wild ideas need to be grounded and understanding. My research, it starts with philosophical writing, economic
models, social engagement, ethical processes, historical design. And I think to do those wild ideas, we also need to understand where those ideas have come from and to know where we're going. So for example, we know, I've mentioned, for me homogeny is one of the worst things in design at the moment, it's killing the industry. It's basically this whole industry was built on this idea of having self-expression and individuality.
But brands are so, so scared at the moment of doing something new, and trying something that's different to what everyone else is doing. And, I don't know, it's just really, really, really hard. And I think for this to have an effect, it's like you said, in the past, you've grown up valuing quality and design and something that's timeless. I need to change that, we really need to, I think we're doing it now, but I think we need to go deeper into this new idea of awareness. From, I don't know, how things are being developed, why things are being developed,
why it has its place in society, its meaning, its innovation. I don't know, all of these things. I just think it's, I think the only way this will ever change is if there is a monumental change, politically, ideologically, I think, mass manufacture needs to be considered, we did this to ourselves with offshoring, but, I don't know, until that sort of stuff is levied and controlled and businesses are more inclined to sell better and less, then we are going to find it really difficult to overthrow this sort of mass consumerism at the moment. Sorry. That was a bit of a tirade, but yeah.. Nothing is impossible. It's just to believe in it and be enthusiastic and convincing. Anne are you optimistic with your research because you found out now that new..well, you
found now that maybe there are smaller brands who need you. Yes, but when you're talking about environment, I am not very optimistic, unfortunately. And we have a three-year old and I don't know how things are going to be when she grows up. So it's very, very tough in that sense. I guess, you know, I'm coming from a sort of old world because I was brought up in Moscow and actually among grandparents who went through.. grew up during the first world war and then went through all of the disasters of the 20th century.
So it was always kind looming, large. And, you know, just in the last, maybe, 10 years, I kind of got to stop thinking about all of that. And now with what happened I think there is this feeling of change and I'm not sure if that is going to be a good change. But at the same time, when we talk to people we work with, a lot of companies in San Francisco in the Bay area and there the feeling is completely different. The feeling it's actually..all of these things are
an opportunity to do businesses that are around environmental issues around clean up. So I guess all of this would be just another boom another boom of different technologies that deal with cleanup and deal with the development of new materials and new processes. Yeah. In fact, we made a mess out of it, that's true. We were unconscious, greedy, and we were not really thinking about the globe. Now, if we plant a tree everyday, maybe we solve the situation, but I don't have the..I have a garden but I forgot to do it. So maybe we should have a new technology to have a tree that we can plant. I don't know where, to save the situation of the world.
But I think what our work is and what your work is, it's always about passion. it's passion that drives us. And for you, that drive that can bring the brand identity to a better level. I think we have to be positive in a way. I mean, you can't think about all the negative things. It's the speakers corner, a solution to say what we think aloud? it's really important right now, personally, because I think, I've been growing really disillusioned with the industry.
I mean, as you know Linda, I mean, you more than anyone because you've started this whole container project because of your disillusion with the industry. So I think I thought when COVID hit, myself felt like one of those, frustrated, prophetic, soothsayers where I was basically, I mean, I've been working on projects for the last four years, like I said, with the UCL and the Institute of Making and all these material innovation departments, because I just really wanted to see a change happen. That's what drove me aesthetically, functionally. And I could see how behind the times the whole luxury industry become. I saw this massive gap that was being utilized within automation and architecture. And I kind of saw this stuff, innovation, material design, economic models, marketing, all these things. And I was trying to bring the
luxury industry into the future and kind of let it embrace progressive innovation and technology, but apparently that's way easier said than done, because it was difficult. Nobody wanted to budge on the old methods. And as we said technology, isn't sexy. It wasn't sexy at the moment, but now you see the whole industry..and it's frustrating because you just see the whole industry now panicking. They're trying to jam round pegs into square holes and desperate for the technology to be sexy for them. But they just don't know how to do it. And I don't know, it just seems really disingenuous. And when you start seeing
Chanel, without naming names, you see Chanel trying to do this, 360° digital, catwalky 3d affair things. And I'm just like, have you just gone on to future laboratory, clicked who does 3d shows when you do this? Cause this is technology. You can be smarter than that. You don't have to..your consumers, aren't people are going to log into your 3d show and get a VR headset to scan themselves into a thing. Be smarter.. But I believe this opportunity allows people like myself and Anne to come together and actually start to find the right and restricted platform to show our thought and our design process and actually let it have influence. I mean, Anne has all the big names, Just have influence because she's got all the biggest names in the industry working for working for her. But for me, I need them. So, here I am.
The subtitle of my project, of the containers, it's connecting people. So connecting. I'm thinking that this is a good connection. Yes, yes. Actually, because you were talking about, in your project, about algorithms, kind of ignited another round of discussions with my dad who is a mathematician and that's actually his topic he's specialized in nonlinear systems and in patterns, patterns steady, animals, insects and how they develop. But the discussion always stops where the numbers begin, because I cannot understand any of the formulas. So I think that you really push harder and get this going. But in general
maybe the solution is also to produce less, fewer materials things and more things that we can kind of enjoy digitally. Right? Yeah, I think it's possible. I think we can conclude, let's enjoy the digital. I thought it was a good conclusion. Let's enjoy life and the digital. Thank you both. Thank you. thanks for having us.
Thank you so much Linda. Sam, we'll try to catch up and discuss. Yeah, we have to go further. Yeah, because we could do another hour of talking. Anne I'd love to introduce you to the guy that I'm working with, who's a creative algorithmic processor, because I think you'd love his work, so yeah. It would be interesting to show.
Yes. It would be awesome. Thank you so much. Good to have a nice day have a nice evening. Thank you, both. Big kiss. Thank you.