If you’re dying to get your hands on a Hood by Air salad bowl or a Ryan Trecartin-branded sweatshirt, good news – art collective DIS are now working on creating an online sequel to their celebrated DISown: Not For Everyone exhibition.
Now heading into its final lap at the Red Bull Studios in New York, the show blew away the boundaries of art and commerce by inviting artists to create their own branded take on the now-ubiquitous diffusion line. You know, like what Donatella did for H&M, except with more life-sized Emma Watson body pillows. (You've got to move fast, though – the Jon Rafman-created pillows are pretty much selling out.) If you weren't lucky enough to get down to their New York location, there's hope yet: they're moving on bringing an online marketplace to life.
Dazed spoke to Lauren Boyle, a DIS member who co-curated the show with Agatha Wara. She talks about resurrecting DISown for e-retail and their dreams of getting stuff into Target.
Dazed Digital: How did you come up with the idea of an art store?
Lauren Boyle: It’s sort of an extension of our practice already. This time last year we did the DISimages which was fully functioning stock photo library, where we commissioned artists to create images for commercial use. We’ve always wanted to make products.
DD: The physical shop will be closing at Red Bull Studios in April. Are there plans for an online launch?
Lauren Boyle: We’re actually developing it now and we’re going to launch this spring, probably in April. There are a lot of artists that we want to work with, so there’s more people that we want to involve.
DD: Production-wise, how did this all work? Did the artists create each piece or were they all produced by manufacturers?
Lauren Boyle: We’re working with overseas and domestic factories and manufacturers. It’s totally new for us. We did the most we could, that we could afford, in the time frame. But every product was different because of practical constraints – we had like 72 HBA wine glasses and only one Bjarne Melgaard beanbag, because the shipping on that is insane.
DD: Were there any proposed products that would have been totally impossible to mass produce?
Lauren Boyle: There was an artist who initially proposed something vile, a print that was going to become a large object – I’m not going to say who it is – and we were like, “we’ll see if we can do it even though we can’t even look at it.” But basically no one would print it, no one would sew it, no one would touch it. There’s a reason some things can’t exist in the world.
DD: What do you make of the comparison between DISown and diffusion lines in fashion, like Philip Lim with Target?
Lauren Boyle: That’s totally accurate, although they’re very different systems. When Karl Lagerfeld does a collaboration with H&M or Philip Lim with Target, the goal is to elevate that brand something special. But the art world is almost the opposite, it operates on exclusivity, access and knowledge.
DD: What have been the most popular products?
Lauren Boyle: At the opening, the most popular were the Jon Rafman body pillows, the Ryan Trecartin sweatshirts and the HBA salad bowls and wine glasses.
DD: You can imagine there’s a real market for these things; you could sell them in department stores – like Bed Bath & DISown.
Lauren Boyle: We would love to meet with an executive of Bed Bath & Beyond; that has to be one of our favourite stores. Honestly, I would love to facilitate and get stuff into Target. It’s great to have something that has so many layers in mass production and for sale, leaking in messages in a really vast way.
DD: A lot of material around this exhibition has stated that you guys don’t believe in the alternative. What do you mean by that?
Lauren Boyle: For us, alternative culture doesn’t have a lot of relevance. Everything is consumed by commercialism right away now, especially with the internet. It’s funny because I’m not that young – when I was in high school there was definitely an alternative culture, like indie or whatever. But now it’s like Bling Ring is cool and Spring Breakers is cool. And it’s funny.
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