We all react in different ways to specific adverse circumstances in our lives: when, due to property developments, British designer Paul Cocksedge was evicted from his London studio where he had spent twelve years, he decided to react to the news in a dynamic and creative way and came up with a project that could celebrate the tension and creative energy that shaped the space.
The results of this project are on display from today (till 9th April) at Milan's Fondazione Luigi Rovati (Corso Venezia 52), during the local design week.
The project, entitled "Excavation: Evicted" is presented by New York-based gallery Friedman Benda in collaboration with Beatrice Trussardi.
For this event Cocksedge proceeded to strip down his studio: he drilled down into the floor, excavated materials and turned them into five furniture pieces.
Each of these works - from his tables to his library - becomes a way to document, commemorate and preserve his own time in the studio (as seen in yesterday's post other designers will be commenting about the concept of time during the design week...), and the building's own history.
"Wanting to commemorate my time there, I decided to delve further into the building and uncover what was underneath the surface the studio had inhabited for the past twelve years," the designer stated in a press release.
"After carrying out extensive scans of the foundations, I drilled down into the floor to uncover the levels hiding underneath. The resulting findings epitomize London's multi-layered history, with the initial concrete hiding Victorian bricks left over from the building's former life as a stable."
The strata re-employed by Cocksedge become therefore a testament to his work, but also to the work and lives of the people who inhabited the space before him, throughout the decades.
The project is definitely intriguing since it reuses materials that have always been around (or rather underneath...) Cocksedge, proving it is possible to create original pieces charged with historical, cultural and social meanings also when reusing affordable/waste materials.
The photographs documenting the work in progress look as if they were taken on an archaeological site, after all the name of the project - "Excavation" - hints at the main archaeological tool for understanding the processes of the human past.
At the same time there is an architectural and financial twist in "Excavation: Evicted" that hints at the present and the future: London may be one of the world's great metropolises and cultural centers, but the increasing property values affected the residents in a negative way.
The Brexit will keep on adding an extra layer of uncertainty to the capital and it may even force further changes in people's lives.
Yet, despite pointing towards a sad event in his life and highlighting depressing social issues regarding the fabric of a metropolis, Cocksedge's pieces are not charged with negative values, but they are conceived as the last creative works to come out of his studio and as ways to celebrate London's own creativity, while prompting people to think about the conditions of those displaced artists disheartened by the rising rents.
"By creating pieces from the very fabric of one of London's disappearing creative spaces, I hope to remind of the transient nature of both creative workers, and the places they inhabit. My Hackney studio will also accompany me to my new workspace, in the form of a work made from retrieved material," Cocksedge concludes.
Visitors who will see these pieces during Milan Design Week will therefore discover quite a few meanings hidden away below the surface of this project, that may prove intriguing also for fashion designers.
While in the past Cocksedge also designed shoes, this project revolving around his studio could inspire fashion designers to gather new ideas from the spaces they inhabit, or "excavate" a new collection from the relics of their past ones (in a way, Viktor & Rolf did it in their Haute Couture A/W 17 and S/S 17 collections).
There is a further connection with architecture and excavation/evictions with the Milanese building where the installation is taking place: the Fondazione Luigi Rovati is indeed located in a 17th century palazzo that will become the city's first private Etruscan museum and cultural center and will close for renovation works after this show, so this is a unique chance to explore the place before it gets shut down for a while.