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Fendi's Craft Alchemy

With the help of designer Elisa Strozyk and artist Sebastian Neeb, the fashion label's collaboration with Design Miami this year takes it's inspiration from 18th century craftwork and discarded leather

In their third year of collaborating with Design Miami, this year Fendi is presenting ‘Craft Alchemy’, which sees them joining forces with designer Elisa Strozyk and artist Sebastian Neeb to create the Design Performance project at the design fair. The installation transforms discarded Fendi leather materials that evoke the traditional craftwork still upheld by the label into dream-like, ethereal antique furniture pieces based around the 18th century.

The result is beautiful, with the designer and artist completely recreating these antiques into leather and wood replicas, while still retaining the intricate carved details found on the originals. Some of the completely leather pieces are also held up by white thread, suspending them as though caught in a web which only adds to the fantastical element. Here, both Elisa and Sebastian explain what it’s been like collaborating with the fashion powerhouse and why they think it’s important to show the craft and what some of their favourite pieces have been. 

Dazed Digital: What was the inspiration for the installation for Design Miami this year?
Elisa & Sebastian:
We both admire the art of ancient cabinet making in the 18th century and we thought about the similarities to the way FENDI is using the material leather by inserting an incredible level of craftmanship. The final outcome are objects which are replications of existing original pieces of which we took the exact measurements of each piece to produce a "twin" using wood and leather.

DD: What’s it been like collaborating with Fendi and each other as both designer and artist? Has it been a harmonious partnership?
Elisa & Sebastian:
The collaboration with FENDI was amazing. They gave us a lot of freedom but also some input. Also the partnership between us was good for the project as we both have different skills and strategies which made the work very richly.

DD: During the Design Performance installation both of you will be at work doing various crafts like embossing and sewing, what’s the reason for this?
Elisa & Sebastian:
We think that it's important to show the process behind our work. People may get a better idea of how much time is embedded in each piece. 

DD: For the pieces you’ve used discarded Fendi materials, have you enjoyed this form of upcycling?
Elisa & Sebastian: We enjoyed it a lot working with discarded materials. It's great to give material a new live by setting it in a new context.

DD: Out of the refashioned furniture pieces you’ve created which is your favourite and why?
Elisa & Sebastian:
One of our favorite pieces is the small embroidered table as it has so many details and it's very close to the original furniture piece. Also the ‘Inlay Commode’ and the ‘Dresdener Commode’ belong to our favorites as they hold an element of growth and movement. It looks like the leather has come alive. 

DD: How different is this project from your separate, personal work?
Elisa & Sebastian:
We both never worked with leather before. From this point of view it was a completely new experience. But we normally work with a similar experimental approach starting from a material and transforming it using different techniques of craft.