When Imagination Meets Heart
Artisans are enjoying a resurgence and fresh appreciation for their craft in the architecture and design space.
Art is no longer just a decorative factor, instead artful objects are contributing to the story of a project.
Consider paintings or photography that reflect the location of a building, a sculpture reminiscent of the history of its city or perhaps colourful mosaics that ignite the spirit of an interiors inhabitants.
Today, more and more architectural and design professionals are seeking out artisans to apply craftsmanship techniques and of course their eye on how to bring a visually pleasing element to a space.
While old world crafts such as oil painting, woodworking and sculpture are making a comeback, there is also great respect for the vast opportunity that technology like 3D printing are bringing to the industry.
Now I would like to give credit to the digital realm, which has allowed artists to reach global audiences, share techniques, connect and source international clientele.
But in turn, this has created quite a noisy, visual marketplace. In fact, if we consider the latest Instagram stats – an enormous 52,000,000 photos are uploaded each day to the social platform.
While not every image is from an artist, it does see users exposed to an array of visual images and videos, millions in this case that in turn could see them perhaps becoming jaded by art. In exchange, users are seeking more from the art space: something fresh, something worthy and perhaps something heartfelt.
Clients are also craving a story. They want to know how the artist curved a piece of aluminium. How long a painting took and what far-off place a tile or stone was sought from.
So let’s talk artistic heart. This week I’m speaking to Jay Bower, an artist and designer currently residing and creating in Zurich, Switzerland.
Other than Jay’s exceptional work, I was most intrigued by his approach to his craft that sees him prioritise subconscious thoughts to truly lett his imagination run wild.
Bower manages to deliver strategic/corporate projects but remains true to vision, encouraging his clients to contribute to the story through style, medium, colour and of course the purpose behind the art.
So today I’d like to introduce Bower to the Australian market as we discuss his artistic process, talk about art trends and indeed the industry’s inspiring future.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
“Well, first of all I like to create things – and by things I mean from my vast imagination,” explained Bower of his thought process when creating.
“It goes as far as creating buildings and landscapes that don’t “really“ exist, but they do exist for me, even if it is just in my own kind of universe.”
So it is through these mindful creations that Bower selects a suitable medium and brings art to life for a building, outdoor landscape or interior.
And like most artists, Bower aims to evoke emotion from his work which he hopes to be happy and hopeful. You could easily fall in love with a Jay Bower creation.
Furthermore, in a world of increasing visual distraction, Bower plans for just a sprinkle of appreciation from his work.
“The point is to stop them (art viewers) in their tracks, even if just for a moment, and enlighten their days in this messy world – even if just for a moment.”
I spoke to Bower about his favourite mediums especially at a time when raw materials are dominating object creations. Think marble, unpolished concrete and copper.
However, he surprised me and leant on a charming favourite – paint.
“I’m really in love with so many mediums – it used to be painting, and it probably still is,” he said. “Since painting is an act of starting with a blank canvas, it feels like starting over – again and again every time.”
He respects the evolution of the painting from “nothing to something, from 0 to 100”.
Following this is Bower’s love for three dimensional pieces – sculptures, objects and furniture.
“I am inspired by simple and colorful pop art sculptures such as Jeff Koons, Robert Indiana, Tobias Rehberger and very much Carsten Höllers playful way,” he said.
Finally, there is design with Bower crediting the industry for playing an important role in his life.
“Here i can quote Charles Eames, who is an idol to me of what he and his wife have created – and they connected many things through their creations,” he said.
In my opinion art can be a connection point between people, architecture and design.
Bower’s clients are spread across architects, interior designers, galleries and private commissions. They are mostly seeking “something that either completes the project, gives it an artistic touch or perceptually enhances it”.
While Bower models a mostly traditional marketing strategy to his business he has found that his imagination alone has secured him clients.
“Sometimes I dream up a fictitious project for a non-existing client and just go and present it and find myself with a newly commissioned piece or a new idea for an exhibition,” he explained.
So before commencing any work, Bower studies the environment, the creative brief and meets those in charge of the project, be it a solo client or an entire board.
“I have this ability to perceive very well the ideas of others, when they can’t express them visually, sometimes not even in words. As a next step after gathering information, studying the project and researching – I go wild on my imagination, connect the dots conceptually, contextually and visually,” he explained.
“What I want is to create something that the client didn’t expect and that brings the project to a totally new level.
Bower leans on his latest commissioned project, Verwurzelung (Roots) an art sculpture for the Bank Zimmerberg.
The private bank, an institution for Zurich has an almost 200 year old history and Bower was approached by the bank to bring some new ideas to their newly constructed branch.
When seeking a centrepiece for outside the building, the local Council encouraged the bank to plant a regular tree. However, it just didn’t’ sit right with Bank Zimmerberg who reached out to Bower for inspiration.
“I came up with the idea of a sculpture that represents the long history of the bank as a growing tree with long strong roots,” explained Bower.
“The piece is about the idea of how a small idea can grow into something grande.”
“The sculpture is not just an imitation of nature (I think nature is perfect in itself) but something new. The result is a sculpture made of stainless steel, coloured with a special heating process that is very alive. It even moves when there is wind, and is illuminated from the inside at night.”
“The result is truly an enhancement of the whole area and has become a new artistic monument for the inhabitants of the city.”
This project also reflects a growing trend of corporate institutions looking to art for decoration, inspiration and for pieces that connect to their customers. With the bank industry already holding a stiff, perhaps even sometimes disconnected reputation, Bank Zimmerberg where able to communicate their cultural values through something beautiful, something more than a dollar bill persay.
With Bower behind a host of sculptures, we also discussed the renaissance of the art form in interior design and even architectural buildings.
The late Zaha Hadid helped pioneer modern, sculptural architecture structures but now we are also seeing geometric facades and curved walls right through to artful furniture and objects in aluminium and copper.
In Australia, the last few years have prioritised digital prints and wall canvases but it seems clients are looking for something – well – 3D.
Bower agrees with the sculptural comeback but believes that while respecting history’s craft, modern technology is bringing a whole other side to the industry.
“Today there is so much technology around, that the possibilities seem infinite to create any kind of artwork in any shape, material and size,” said Bower.
“I really see a great connection between art and design. To me, it is incredible how an idea and story can leave a trail behind going from outdoor sculptures and arrive in hallways and living rooms – and really connect people.”
Bower also describes sculptures as “very present” and objects of desire.
Another one of Bower’s project, Surrli (Spinning Top) is located where cars and people can move around it. Indeed, its shape motivated by the motion of cars.
A TIMELY PASSION
Bower works anywhere from three weeks to six months on projects depending on its size and the team involved.
He refers to Waterlily – a sculpture that was conceived for an exhibition) that took around three weeks to complete but Surrli taking up to four months.
Referring to Surrli he said: “There were a lot of different works and parts involved like the complex wall painting, the concrete base and the Surrli sculpture itself.”
“If a client has a deadline and is swift in deciding, my team and I can work it out,” he said. “We work very efficiently and always find the best solutions, and through the process sometimes even find better ones.”
I like to ask all my interviewees what the future looks like for their industry.
As mentioned earlier, trend forecasters are predicting a new appreciation for craftsmanship and true artistic attributes. This is because decoration alone can feel disconnected. Clients continue to seek a story, something exclusive and authentic.
“I think the art industry has very much diversity…so there is always going to be a lot of different kind of works of any imagination possible,” said Bower.
“I would like to see the art industry going in a direction of inspiration and originality. I really love works come from the heart. That may sound cheesy, but I can tell if a work has some sort of truth in it.
“But then every work of art has its very own message that is conveyed through a basic idea, forms, colours and materials.
“And a work can be seen from different viewpoints – which makes any piece very unique – and its exactly that uniqueness that I am looking for in an artwork.
“If one is true to themselves and keeps their integrity, one will get much further in any industry and will be much happier doing what they do.”