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The Magic of Lucy and Bart

It's high time Dazed find out how this British and Dutch fashion/art duo create their mindbending ensembles.

The Lucy and Bart collective are made up of British Lucy McRae and Dutch Bart Hess who met at Philips Design, working in a far future design research programme. They describe their work as an instinctual stalking of fashion, architecture, performance and the body. Translated to physical pieces, the duo use unexpected materials like foam, shards of wood and even balloons to create mindblowing ensembles that do much to distort the body. This duo have a lot to say as we found out when we spoke to them and they are not done just yet as they are curating a show for Milan Furniture Fair with the Maastricht Arts School as well as live shows. We're waiting with baited breath to see what will these two think to put on a human body next.

Dazed Digital: Where are you from/where do you live?
Lucy McRae: Born in London, bred in Australia/Amsterdam 
Bart Hess:  Born in Geldrop, The Netherlands /Eindhoven

DD: How did you meet?

Lucy and Bart: We met at Philips Design in spring 2007, working in a far future design research programme. We worked on an Electronic Tattoo project that accelerates a vision for next generation sensitive technology mounted under the skin. This concept suggests our bodies are increasingly becoming a platform for sensitive and interactive technology

DD: When and why did you start designing? 

Lucy and Bart: We started playing around in June 2007 sticking office tools to our face imagining they were futuristic ways to apply makeup. After that we met every Friday expelling all the energy we did not release doing our commercial work. Basically we got together to do everything that was not allowed during the working week.

DD: Lucy, you worked as a Body Architect in the Probes Programme at Philips Design - what exactly does this entail?            
Lucy McRae: I trained as a classical ballerina for fourteen years so inherently my work is a fascination with the human body. I have a hybrid background in architecture, performance, design and fashion so the working title 'Body Architect' kind of sums up my experience. I worked on several projects like a dress that blushes with light, or electronic jewellery that senses sleep and stress. It was at Philips that I started research into technology and the body, whether its woven into textiles or impregnated into silicon and stuck to the body. I'm developing some technology and real-time textile concepts together with an engineer - it's fun.

DD: How would you guys describe your work?
Lucy and Bart: LucyandBart is a collaboration between Lucy McRae and Bart Hess described as an instinctual stalking of fashion, architecture, performance and the body. We share a fascination with genetic manipulation and beauty expression. Unconsciously our work touches upon these themes however it’s not our intention to communicate this. We work in a primitive and limitless way creating future human shapes discovering low tech ways for human enhancement.

DD: Your work is about the “instinctual stalking of fashion" - what do you mean by this?
Lucy and Bart:
We work from instinct with no idea of the outcome. We start with a single material, exploring volumes on the body and ways of re-shaping the human silhouette. We allow ourselves to make mistakes that way we find new possibilities for a material. As we are both model and photographer we don’t have to explain or give reason to a concept we want to create. It’s like working in an upward spiral we make each other more and more enthusiastic as the day goes on.

DD: Where do you seek for inspiration?
Lucy and Bart:
We are inspired by Genetic manipulation but it is not our intention to communicate this in our work. In a way our work is a reflection on society and current technologies. The notion of an ideal beauty will evolve and change depending upon new technologies. This will impact on how societies and culture’s are shaped and developed. Maybe we are just reacting to what we are seeing.

DD: How did you become interested in fashion?
Lucy and Bart: 
It’s not really fashion what we are doing, but more about exploring the fringes of fashion. Lucy is making garments for an exhibition in Hong Kong and Bart is working together with Iris van Herpen on hand made textiles, so in a way it is hinting towards fashion but it’s not the origin.

DD: Bart, tells us about the collection "hunt for high-tech".
Bart Hess:
With a 'Hunt for High-tech' I made a collection of fake fur that touches on elements of fetishism, human instinct and new animal archetypes. With that collection I did not try to mimic real animal kingdoms but create a fantasy world of its own. The way this started was through the process of imagining fantasy animals; animals that could be genetically manipulated, part robot, part organic, how they would move in their environment and what they felt like to touch.

DD: How do you fuse your work with performance?
Lucy and Bart: :
Lucyandbart are now touring. After making work in our studio we are now keen to show our process and involve an audience. We have been asked by galleries and art fairs to perform 'live shows' of some of our concepts. For a Gallery in Holland we put on a 'Low-tech plastic surgery' performance where we glued Hooks and Eyes to the faces of visitors. We were able to redefine the landscape of the face by altering the appearance of cheekbones or emphasizing the lips, creating an analogue version of plastic surgery. We are available for Christmas parties, Barmitsvah's, weddings and baby showers!