Flesh covered steel is all that remains. The stench of dread cuts the air. As you work under darkness, you finally feel at home.
The Brvtalist is proud to present a new mix by New York City-based artist duo Material Lust. Christian Lopez Swafford and Lauren Larson are responsible for some of our favorite furniture, object and interior designs over the past few years. The duo infuses alchemical symbolism and sacred geometry into what can only be described as "functional sculpture".
Their "Geometry is God" series are captivating works that utilize paganism and ancient ideologies to create furniture and objects that convey a powerful presence, transcending the medium and existing in a space in between art and philosophy. We were immediately drawn not only to their design aesthetic, but the duo's dedication to working within different disciplines, maintaining a unique ideology throughout. The pair calls this ideology "Oppressionism", and it is defined as the combination of heavy-handed theatrics with high design and its exploitation of uncomfortable and often pornographic imagery. We reached out to the artists to learn more about their work and we are excited the share the Q&A below:
The Brvtalist: This is kind of the ultimate New Brvtalism for me because you guys are artists who are now well known as furniture and interior designers and you also made a mixtape for us. Talk about the importance of multi-disciplinary practice and how you have found your way into all these different things.
Material Lust: We explore as many mediums as possible. Our studio has music on all day and night so a mix tape would be a natural extension of our design/art process. That being said with this mix we chose to do something that was more direct in presentation. I was tired of listening to cerebral mixes of drones that proliferate soundcloud (although I love drone). We are combating that with a tribute to our guilty pleasures.
We practice interior design, furniture design, lighting design, graphic design, textile design and set design. With so many different types of projects happening at once we really have to keep a watch on our brand and vision. Every project has to fit in our overall vision for our practice or else we don't take it on. Since we are both artists at heart we want our body of work in the end to read like the life and work of an artist.
TB: I have to talk about the "Geometry is God" line. Striking furniture and home accessories like the Pagan Chair and Candelabra that are infused with sacred geometry and alchemical symbolism. These are true works of art. Do you find that you often look to pagan symbolism and alchemy for inspiration in your work? Are you interested in their meaning for purposes beyond design and aesthetic and how does your philosophy of "Oppressionism" play into this?
ML: That line is heavily influenced by the geometry's of alchemy, hieroglyphics and cave paintings. It was our introduction as a brand and we wanted to create something primal and striking. We like to constantly reinvent ourselves and what often changes is our reference source material. For our work coming out in 2016 we will be referencing surrealist, folk and religious/anti-religious themes with our work. It will still very much look like Material Lust but will have more hand carved and hand illustrated pieces. It would be easy for us to just keep doing the Geometry is God collection over and over, and we will be adding a couple new pieces to that collection, but for 2016 we are declaring "Geometry is Dead".
Oppressionism is a term we coined to vocalize our frustration at the trend following and low quality driven nature of the Art and Design world. Giant companies sell poorly made, under designed, disposable furniture, lighting and art. There has been a backlash against this with many designers making things in the US and out of higher quality materials but even then what is the point of making something high quality if it is also devoid of any voice or perspective? In order for us to survive we have to always feel like we are fighting against something. Admittedly, what we are fighting against changes every time you ask us.
TB: I also love that Material Lust is a duo. Talk about the interplay between you guys and the artistic process. You both have slightly different backgrounds so how do you think you've come together to create something so cohesive?
ML: We are both very different people and designers but when we come together we don't become a mixture of those ideas. We become a third separate identity with its own ideas and vision. Material Lust is its own organism and we are just trying to use our experiences and skills to pull out the best work possible from it. We do battle it out when it comes to details on a design but instead of getting super frustrated we try and embrace the process. All our work has been drawn and criticized and redrawn and prototyped and criticized and re-prototyped a million times over before it is ready to be shown.
TB: The surrealist children's line, "Fictional Furniture", is amazing (the Ibis is also one of my favorite birds). Talk about how this came about and did you ever envision creating a kids line?!
ML: While we where heavily into Egyptian Hieroglyphics a gallery named Kinder Modern approached us about doing a kids collection and we instantly said yes. It all happened pretty organically. Our idea was to create heirloom quality gender neutral kids furniture that does not look juvenile and in turn subconsciously introduces the child to a world of hand crafted art and design. Through the process of designing that collection we started to integrate some surrealist influences and that opened up a whole new world and direction for us. The Crawl Chair in carved walnut with its primitive hands and feet is our first extension of those influences.
TB: What is next for Material Lust and is there anything you haven't done that you would like to get into?
ML: We are busy designing the 2016 collection as well as introducing a line of textiles named Derma. Derma is a collaboration with textile artists To Dødsfall based in Brooklyn. We are kindred spirits and when they approached us about doing a collaboration it was an instant creative shot to the arm. We released the first piece and we have already gained a ton of attention (which never happens, its usually a slow burn, especially with our work). We are also opening up a small gallery in Manhattan. It will be a super small space that is a curated collection of our work mixed with antiques and art. We are planning on changing the installation out every 3-4 months and having a new fully realized and meticulously designed space.
We would like to thank Christian and Laura for their insightful responses and for their great mix. New Brvtalism No. 035 contains industrial metal, folk, goth and more and we love that it was named "Guilty Pleasures". The Brvtalist is always interested in artists who are not bound by any discipline and who continue to evolve while carrying a philosophy through all of their work. Material Lust has fast become one of the most innovate and unpredictable artists working today and we couldn't be more honored to feature them on our site. For more information please visit Material-Lust.com.
Nine Inch Nails - Last
Clock DVA - Buried Dreams
Zombi - Spirit Animal
Revolting Cocks - Stainless Steel Providers
Siouxsie & The Banshees - Monitor
L7 - Wargasm
Rammstein - Das Modell
Type O Negative - Drunk in Paris
Chemlab - I still Bleed
KMFDM - Terror
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Mideast Vacation
Stone Roses - I Wanna Be Adored
Brujeria - Seis Seis Seis
3TEETH - Nihil