As London looks ahead to the Paralympics, after two weeks of Olympic sporting obsession, Dazed Digital speaks to Mark Eley, who with partner Wakako Kishimoto designed an Olympic ship’s sail – a project turned around in less than a week. The celebrated pattern masters behind their eponymous label, Eley Kishimoto, have been designing since the early 90s and have worked on all sorts of collaborations, from clothing, to interior design, to BMW bikes. When the opportunity arose to produce the decorative pattern for Team GB's Olympic yacht the pair said yes without hesitation.
The Camo Chevrons is an archive print from our pattern Lab Collection A/W10, reworked for the sail. Its pattern was linked with other prints from that season in terms of its narrative relation but one particular reference was the Ikat Weave
The final design was a monochromatic zigzag taken from Eley Kishimoto's print archives, decorated with the team’s identification number, '8371', and a gold star as a reference to their world championship win. The piece has heady reverence as it graced the final competitive ride of the Star Class yacht. To mark this occasion Dazed spoke to Mark Eley about his 'fine art sail'.
Dazed Digtial: This is a very specific project, how did it come about?
Mark Eley: We have touched upon sporting collections in the past working Ellesse on tennis and ski-inspired collections. With this particular work on the sail it was a very fast turnaround, sporty in its own way in terms of collaborating. A call came in on the Thursday night from a friend, Michael Ross of CNM Estates, who I met on a car rally, to see if I was interested in helping. By the following Tuesday the yacht was afloat the Thames looking beautiful with what we think a very appropriate design that works on many levels.
DD: This project is significant for many reasons, as the first 'fine art sail' and the last sail to grace the Star Class Yacht. Did this impact your work at all?
Mark Eley: Yes, the opportunity to work on a sail on a significant yacht connected to the Olympics within the Olympics was something not to be missed. The choices that we made available to the collaboration at the beginning were all very different aesthetically and we wanted the people involved from the outset of the project (and the company that worked on finishing the sail with the print) to make their choice to add to the collaboration. Their knowledge of their craft is as important to the print we supplied.
DD: What inspired the sail's pattern?
Mark Eley: The Camo Chevrons is an archive print from our pattern Lab Collection A/W10, reworked for the sail. Its pattern was linked with other prints from that season in terms of its narrative relation but one particular reference was the Ikat Weave
DD: Working as a duo on one project must get complicated. How do you split the work?
Mark Eley: We have many projects and a very active studio, it has been this way for 20 years and it has become automatic the way that the balance of work is taken responsible for these days.