In 2018, things changed completely at Studio 212 Fahrenheit. Albert Buring and Paul Mulder waved goodbye to the clients of their well-established advertising agency in a neat but decided manner. They had thought long and hard about it: they were going to do what made them most happy. And chose the path of art. Last summer, their piece "Lifelights" showed off at Palazzo Francesco Turatti during Milan Design Week. Time for a good conversation.
'It felt like a school trip, but with a bit more hassle,' laughs Buring. 'Our installation, a huge luminous cross with smaller lights attached in the shape of a golden hand holding a smartphone, had to be transported by truck to Milan. Fortunately, that worked out well.' The gentlemen had checked whether placing a meter-high cross in a cathedral would also cause problems, but the organization saw no problems. And apart from two somewhat provoked older Italian women, there were none. Naturally, the play did attract attention. For ten days we talked to a lot of people from all over the world and we are still in contact with some of them.
With birds through the corona crisis
It is a new world they have now entered. With their works, they move between design and art. Meaningful statements with a clean aesthetic. The biggest success so far are the so-called Blocbirds: abstracted prints of well-known bird species for on the wall or in the museum. 'Three years ago we were at the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven with Blocbirds. There we then came into contact with the curator of the Design - week Milan. Meanwhile, the exhibition is on display at the Natural History Museum Rotterdam and the prints are ordered from all over the world. It's also how we got through the corona crisis, because all major projects fell silent," Mulder explains.
A very different world
It almost sounds like a fairy tale dream: follow your heart, make beautiful things, win awards and shine in Milan. But that's not quite how the gentlemen themselves see it yet. 'Don't get me wrong, we are never going back into the world of advertising. This choice has been very good and we are really very happy with it. However, it really is a very different world. The phone used to ring daily, we even had to say no to assignments quite often. And now we ourselves are the ones who have to call or email. 'You only have two tastes in this world: you either make it, or you don't,' Mulder explains cheerfully. 'Milan seems like an end in itself, but it's really only a means, given our ambitions. We want to make more beauty that can be seen in more places and in more countries. That we were invited and won several awards with our work helps and we also see it as confirmation, but we still really need to be discovered.'
Art does not compromise
Although the outside world sometimes sees it differently. 'We sometimes hear back that people now think we have become unaffordable, but that is not true at all,' laughs Buring. 'We are still very accessible and can do really nice things for many different clients, everyone is always welcome to call us. It's an important lesson we took away from Milan: we don't have to keep making new things, we can work much more on our visibility and draw attention to what we've already done. So that's our mission now in light of our ambitions. Accordingly, Studio 212 Fahrenheit 's portfolio is substantial. All objects that tell their own story and in which they have obviously put heart and soul. In the idea, but also in all the choices surrounding the production. 'Art does not make concessions, it is a very honest world in that respect. Just like artists. We impose high standards on ourselves in our work.'
More uncertain, but happier
'What the future holds for us is much more uncertain than when we were doing advertising work. At the same time, it really makes us much happier. We touch on themes that everyone has something to do with. Death, life, the delusion of everyday life, our historical consciousness, religion, but also more concrete such as the environment, the welfare of our animals. Inspiration in abundance. Ideas too. So we find it exciting, but we have every confidence. And above all a lot of fun.
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