© Tekla Evelina Severin
Points of view

The designers and artists using colour to change our experiences

29.01.2019 | By MILLY BURROUGHS

Experience is everything. Even in the age of digital indulgence, it’s the real life sensation of full environmental immersion that continues to mesmerise and engage the masses. When words fail, the works of artists and designers globally transcend language and tell the stories we remember most potently. While minimalism still reigns for those craving cleanliness and compliance–Marie Kondo’s continued rise in popularity is evidence of this alone–there are a number of both established and rising stars of the creative world whose love of colour has seen brands and individuals embrace vibrancy as part of their lifestyle and messaging.

French artist Camille Walala first gained popularity with a number of public commissions in London, where she has lived since 1997. Inspired by the striking colours and graphic forms made famous by the Memphis movement in the 1980s, the Ndebele tribe and op-art master Victor Vasarely, her work exudes an air of playful delight. Recognising the provocative power of eye-popping colour and graphic aesthetics, Walala launched her eponymous studio in 2009. Since then she has worked on an array of uplifting commissions and collaborations, one the most of the most poignant being Dream Come True, which saw the artist tasked with reimagining the moody exterior of post-production company Splice’s monolithic home. Fittingly perched on Old Street roundabout, in the heart of Walala’s home of East London, the previously unremarkable building soon became one of the city’s most photographed properties and triggered a conversation about bold beauty in everyday life that has thrust colour to the fore of so many minds.

Photo Credit: Tekla Evelina Severin

Most recently, the artist, whose large-scale works would not be possible without the art direction and creative production expertise of partner Julia Jomaa, was chosen by LUX* Resorts & Hotels to put her dazzling stamp on the architecture and interiors of new riad-like hotel SALT of Palmer, the first in a new family of destinations scattered across the Indian Ocean. While previous projects have largely focused on capturing the fleeting gaze of passing audiences, this mammoth project saw Walala harnessing colour for an experiential brief.

Photo Credit: Tekla Evelina Severin

The now striking resort features a unique courtyard swimming pool and 59 stunning rooms that capture the majesty of blue skies and ocean views as they intertwine with the bright interior schemes. The interior architecture and design is the product of a collaboration between Walala and Mauritian architect John-François Adams. As the hospitality experience continues to evolve with developments in both technology and creative demand, we can only assume that more artists like Walala will be seen shaping the future of the travel experience.

When it comes to retail it’s no secret that catching the eye and attention of the reluctant voyeur is the secret to success. As requests to shop secrete from every orifice of the internet and beyond, it is becoming increasingly apparent that brands cannot rely on brand alone. As agencies scramble to curate enlightened content and collaborations are rife on the runways of the fashion world, one creative heavyweight has amassed a portfolio of clients even the most savvy of style-aficionados would envy. Kate Moross is the stand-out art director of a generation.

 

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As founder and face of Studio Moross, the creative entrepreneur–whose commitment to speaking out on the issues and needs of the LGBTQI+ community, as well as those of the creative world, is both vocal and admirable–is widely regarded as a leader, rather than a follower, so it is unsurprising that they have been the first port of call for brands such as Transport for London, Kiehl’s, Converse, New Balance and most recently Uniqlo as they use in-store events and creative campaigns to connect with a 21st Century demographic. Showcasing their signature palette of bold colours, Moross’ playfully sinuous and illustrative live mural drawing took centre-stage at Uniqlo’s flagship store in Singapore to launch the brand’s Love & Mickey Mouse collection.

 

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While business-minded creatives such as Moross and Walala are undoubtedly talented in terms of vision and execution, there is clearly a marketing draw for those who choose to commission and collaborate with them as they boast a combined Instagram following of nearly 200,000. Social media-fluent creatives boast a guarantee of added value for projects and campaigns, but in the world of interior design it is often about putting personal brand aside and creating spaces and experiences that speak for themselves. French interior designer and architect India Mahdavi was born in Tehran, but spent most of her formative years between the US and Europe. Combine this international upbringing with her Iranian, Egyptian and Scottish heritage and it is unsurprising that Mahdavi’s prominent use of colour as a tool for communication revolves around the formation of identity. Her often monochromatic schemes are renowned for the memorable impact they make on restaurant guests and connoisseurs of high-end products, while being simultaneously appealing to the inhabitants of private residences. Based in Paris, where she founded her studio in 1999, Mahdavi has made an unavoidable name for herself in the world of design, but has most-prominently used her creative skills to help forge signature identities for some of the world’s most recognised spaces by curating their interiors.

Photo credit: Ed Reeve

In 2014 Mahdavi was tasked with reinventing Mayfair dining destination Sketch London by owner Mourad Mazouz. What the designer set about creating is now one of Europe’s most easily recognisable restaurants. Featuring artwork from unlikely collaborator and illustrator David Shrigley, the womb-like dining room features entirely pink furnishings, walls and ceilings, punctuated only by a stunning multi-colour chevron floor. Demonstrating the unrivalled power of experiential art and design, the revamped restaurant is one of the busiest in the city and continues to top must-visit lists, despite regularly receiving questionable reviews of its menu and service.

Photo credit: Ed Reeve