10 THINGS THAT INSPIRE US

Why do we do what we do? That is a question you need to ask yourself once in a while – so we did. In this series, all of us at STEREO will tell you about ten things that inspire us, help us get through the day or inform the way we work with branding. First up is creative director Krister Bladh.

Some days when you wake up the world seems so dark and full of hate. How do you change something like that? All you can do is to look to those that have gone before you.

Jørgen Nash

Art is perhaps the purest form of protest, especially after the 50s and 60s, when even the most basic of actions could suddenly be considered art. Nash was part of the Internationale Situationniste, led by Guy Debord. Unlike Debord, he and his Scandinavian comrades were not convinced art had lost its agency in the political struggle. Together with Drakabygget, Nash helped stage both intriguing and shocking performances. They were so expertly carried out that, until shortly before his death in 2004 no one knew if he really did behead the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. Most of the rest has been left out by history, because it didn’t further those in power.

Studio Total

A Swedish agency that worked with subversion and assumptions in campaigns for everyone from TV broadcasters, to political parties, to human rights movements. These people spent millions in expenses and years of training, just to drop some teddy bears over Belarus. But they succeeded in getting a few military leaders fired and the president humiliated. And I would highly recommend checking out their vodka brand Misery Vodka. Studio Total really understood how brands, and just people in general, can break through the blanket coverage of lobbyist agendas.
Image from @st_projects

Kyle Ng

Kyle founded the clothing brand Brain Dead a few years ago together with Ed Davis, mixing the styles of skaters and punks with premium streetwear. Since then he has collaborated with everyone from Dover Street Market to LA Art Book Fair, and Brain Dead’s collections are sold via retailers all over the world. Kyle’s main medium is the printed tee, where the visuals mix Total-Recall-90s-aesthetics with DIY photocopy art. “Stamp out reality”, one of his DSM capsule items says, and there is no message I would rather wear than that. He may be inspired by forerunners like Cav Empt, but Kyle is operating at a different level intellectually.
Image from @farmtactics

Alexandra von Fuerst

I am fascinated by photography, and it’s something I wish I was better at myself. Sometimes you find new artists who are also able to make a living from their art, and one photographer I’ve been following for a while now is Italian-born Alexandra von Fuerst. She’s only 25, working under an alias (her real name is Alessandra Bergamin), but has already done work for Vogue and Odiseo amongst many others. Her images are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, without attempting to canonise – instead Fuerst finds beauty in unexpected combinations of textures and spaces.
Image from Gestalten

Our Legacy

One of the few fashion brands from Sweden – or from the rest of the world for that matter – that I can identify with. The designs used by Our Legacy are successfully taking their cues from classic cuts but turning them into something new and unique, taking inspiration from subcultures of the past. Think about how the classic army boot became a fashion statement for goths and punks. Sometimes they fail too, of course, but I appreciate their exploration of materials, colours and patterns.

India

Since I began travelling to India for work, the way I see the world has changed a lot. Although people are very different, they are also very much the same – and it’s the same problems that haunt us. Working with Indian companies, it’s also as if a whole new spectrum of that world opens up to you. You get to experience people’s everyday lives and get invited into their private spheres. A much older fascination of mine is that of typography, and in India there is such a wealth of different languages and scripts that you never ever tire of looking at signage. What is also unique is that the majority of these scrips haven’t been digitalised. There are only a few standard fonts, which have been created without a deeper understanding of how digital typography functions today.
Image from @shiva_n_

Partner

Cinema is an amazing medium and in this film from 1968, all the facets of filmmaking are shown at their most immaculate. There is the screenplay, which comes from The Double by Dostoyevsky (one of my favourite authors, by the way). There are superb performances by Pierre Clémenti and Tina Aumont (with eyes painted on her eyelids). The music is composed by Italian master Ennio Morricone, and the directing is handled by none other than Bernardo Bertolucci. The scenography and mise-en-scène is very much inspired by Godard’s style of the time, but I also think Partner inspired Godard’s own film Le gai saviour, which premiered a year later. A ”remake” of this film, or rather just another film based on the same book, was made in the UK in 2013 and called The Double. As a side note, I would also recommend the one-track album Dawn of the Double by In the Red musicians The Double.

Tankboys

Tankboys sadly is no more, they were an artist duo working with design and typography in Venice. Their publishing company Automatic Books, their design studio and other initiatives have now been merged into a new company called M-L-XL. The greatness of Tankboys was perhaps their dry, academic approach to design, which bears a powerful semblance to the way many artists approach their subject matter. One of my favourites to come out of Automatic was David Horvitz’ artist book called ”How to Shoplift Books”, which came out in three editions – each one in two languages. Now that Tankboys is gone, Horvitz has made his own bootleg edition of the book. You can purchase the last font created by Tankboys, Forma Nuova, from their old website.

CL

Korean musician CL, or Chaelin Lee, was once a member of Kpop outfit 2NE1 but is currently working on her first album in English. A few years ago her old group was among the most streamed aritsts in the world, and several of the members appeared on TV and in lifestyle magazines. Apart from being a symbol of women’s emancipation in Asia and a style icon favoured by Jeremy Scott, CL is also one of the most influential people in the world. Compared to many other internet celebrities commanding millions of followers, she also has actual talent. In the 2015 readers poll for TIME 100, she almost beat Vladimir Putin as the person people most wanted to see topping the list. This year the Philippine president won, while India’s prime minister got 0% of the votes. One day, a woman will win and it’s going to someone like CL.

Lawrence

I was introduced to Lawrence by the Duke of Harringay about ten years ago. Thirty years ago he was one of the greatest lyricists in the world, inspired by pop art and weirdness, and desperate for stardom. When I met him he was sweating profusely and suffering the longterm effects of addiction. The misunderstood artist destined for unpopularity. He did however remember the letter I had written to him many years earlier. Lawrence was always extremely interested in the world, attentive of his fans and meticulous about his own image. ”I hate indie music”, he told me. But in the 80s he was in band called Felt, that released ten albums on now legendary independent records labels in Britain.

In a world that is fuelled by fear, ignorance and pigeonholing I hope that I, too, will always be too strange and ambitious to fit into anyone’s definition of how art and design should work.
Spread from Felt by Lawrence