Young Talent is a new initiative by Marset, Barcelona-based brand.
For the first episode, New York based set designer Sonia Rentsch and photographer Robin Stein develop a new vision for Marset’s colourful Bicoca. Driven by the optimism that Bicoca embodies, they created a contemporary nature morte, combining nature with manufactured materials in a joyful, textural celebration of this little light.
“The Bicoca is born with the optimism of brightening life and accompanying the good times, wherever you go,” said the brand.
Beyond the product itself, Marset embraces the beauty of light, inviting artists through Young Talent initiative to interpret their designs in personal, exploratory ways to capture new meanings.
Marset shares an interview with Sonia Rentsch and Robin Stein on their process, and the creative thinking behind the project:
1. Nature morte, it’s been around forever and is still one of our favourite art forms. How have you seen it evolve over the last few years, and how do you see it in the future?
Sonia Rentsch (SR): Like any art form, nature morte is constantly evolving. I’m not sure it will ever go away. I have noted that there’s a new sensation of movement that appears to be sneaking in that I quite like – a palpable sense embedded within the stills. it feels fresh. futuristically speaking I know there are some amazing 3D renderings being created of nature morte that look incredibly true to life. I’m not sure I’ll ever truly feel connected to this scene but I can certainly respect it.
2. Speaking of 3D, when almost everything today can be digitalized or rendered, what is the value of a real still life?
SR: For me, it’s the difference between feeling the weight of a book in your hands as you turn the pages versus a glowing touch screen you swipe a finger across. Isn’t the first example quite obviously much nicer? robin and I are engaged in a real-world experience with the subject matter, picking it up, moving it around, looking at it in real time. It’s visceral, it comes from a deep understanding of object, space and arrangement, some place magic and innate.
Robin Stein (RS): Actual physical and tactile engagement with objects and materials is really important to how we work. I feel like a lot of my drive to photograph objects comes from an enthusiasm for materials and the process of arranging things.
3. I can imagine that textures and materials, in general, play a big part in creating an interesting set, bringing objects to life somehow. Which materials interest you most?
SR: Ha! There is no singular answer to that question. Everything is of interest to me. There is no one definition of beauty.
RS: All things can create inspiration unexpectedly. I find inspiration from browsing and digging – I go to a lot of salvaged building supply stores looking for props, surfaces and materials for shoots. I often rummage through the dumpster in my studio space, pick up flattened metal off the street, wander through hardware stores or through the catalogues of raw speciality material suppliers. Stores for professional chefs, bookbinders or suppliers of raw industrial materials…
4. A common thread in your work, I would say, is the use of colour and organic shapes. how would you define your style? And how did it evolve?
RS: it’s a little hard to say, and in some ways, I’m hesitant to over analyze my aesthetic tendencies. I will say that some of my early enthusiasm and influence came from looking at a lot of early 20th-century avant-garde design and photography. Specifically Russian constructivists like El Lissitsky and artists from the bauhaus like Laszlo Moholy Nagy. I think a lot of this has inevitably informed some of the more graphic tendencies of my work. I’ve also felt that the process of developing a rapport with the specific tools I use has also informed my style. especially with the shift to digital photography. I find it much more challenging than shooting with film, but it forced me to make deliberate decisions about subtleties. when working with film I never really considered things like what colour tone did I want to have in my shadows or highlights.
5. For the collaboration with Marset, you have created a unique scenario. How did the concept for this scenario arise?
SR: I have been working on an ongoing project for Hermes this year. Some of their scarf prints are mind-blowing. There is one, in particular, I couldn’t get out of my head featuring a floral arrangement in incredible detail. It was most certainly the inspiration for me to put pencil to paper and sketch the lamp concept. The idea evolved once robin joined the fray — he’s an avid collector and called me from a street corner to ask if he should pick up the concrete rocks from a sidewalk. The rest was magic. A dash of adrenalin, a ton of flowers, some real, some not, robin’s rocks and two artists.
6. ‘The optimism of brightening life’ is a set defined by flowers and textures – and of course the bicocca lamp. How did you come to this treatment?
SR: I’m a child of the sun, a country girl from birth. Light and nature in the right amounts are the simplest ingredients for joy. It made sense to me to combine the two in still life form. in a sense, the bicocca lamps are small mobile beacons that bring light to darker corners of our personal universes. When I was pondering ideas of how to present them I wanted to evoke this possibility — to create a feeling of delight. Adding a natural element such as flowers to do so allowed me to mirror the playful colors of the lights and serve as a subtle reminder that the beauty of light — like flowers — is the optimism they bring. further texture and weight were added to the scenography through the inclusion of concrete rocks.