David David is meticulously covering the world in it's patterned vision. Root5 is thrilled to have some of these pieces in our newly launched web shop and we wanted to know a little more about what goes on behind the scenes... I talk to David Saunders about the rise and rise of his perfect geometry. Saunders is incredibly passionate about his work and his attitude leaves me with the impression that this is a label in it for the long haul which will keep on growing until it’s a household name. As a business the two brothers fight their corners between realism and imagination and the results are beautifully balanced and exciting. Below our interview...
LS: The first pieces I ever saw from your hands were hand embroidered vintage army jackets around ten years ago, they were very colourful but quite a bit more organic than what you currently do. How did you arrive from there to the very defined stylised geometric David David style?
DS: I started working on clothes for my own wardrobe I wasn’t thinking about turning into a business, so the word 'organic' is quite a suitable word for my career at that point. I had no idea what I wanted to make from it and I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, I was playing. My early career was a process of finding out what I could do, I didn’t study fashion at college so I hadn’t explored anything, I just got picked up right at the beginning, that’s why you can see an evolution in my work, although the evolution has slowed down somewhat now. I just landed on geometrics because that what floated my boat, I am a sucker for straight lines and perfection. My prints are perfectly symmetrical and accurate. It’s an invisible perfection that the consumer might not recognize but I spent many hours perfecting my work. This is my addiction. So the answer is I just stumbled across my passion I didn’t really arrive there.
LS: What does your design process look like?
DS: Most of my work starts of as a sketch, a doodle. Quite often I will be watching a movie or be in a conversation with a pen in my hand just drawing but not concentrating, and when I finally look at what I’ve done I see something of interest. Geometry is so fantastic because the more you work with it the more you find. You can make hundreds of patterns from just one original drawing. I’d like to think that I have developed new ways to create geometric patterns, I’ve had some eureka moments but I imagine throughout history other artists have found those techniques, its just a process of exploration. I’m a bit of a techno head (not necessarily the music, more the repetition).
LS: The visual language of David David works in lots of different contexts and seems to be applicable to an endless array of products. Does that make the decisions of what to produce, and maybe more importantly, what not to produce more difficult?
DS: Yes, this is what is really fun about print it can be applied to almost anything; we are constantly looking for new products to develop. We’ve moved into home furnishing and furniture quite recently and that is incredibly refreshing and I feel a lot more at home in those fields. I feel like a bit of an outsider in fashion. Its difficult to be accepted in the fashion world, not that one needs to be, but I have that desire to be accepted like most people. There are products you don’t want to make of course, quite often they are more commercial products you want to steer clear of. But that’s the crunch; they are the ones that sell. You don’t want to look like you are just making money-spinners. These products fall into 'gift' categories. It can be tacky but as a business you cannot ignore these products. I'd like to focus on Public Art and Fine Art really. But I love furniture.
LS: You have recently opened your own shop, did that change your relationship to the design process?
DS: Yes, again, it’s a brilliant thing to do as a business. My brother and I were shopkeepers so you get to see how your customer reacts to the product, their concerns and what they really want. My brother and I have quite different concerns but we have a general agreement about what we want. We want to make products that people enjoy and want. I do like to make stuff that’s a bit crazy though, but then you find that no one will wear it, or very few. My brother is understandably more concerned to make products that people will snap up.
LS: There are easier and simpler ways to make a life than being a designer... What is it that drives you to do what you do?
DS: Well, I believe that being creative isn't just a lifestyle it is a life calling, I think if you have a natural desire to create it means its necessary for you to do so. So if you don't it can be unhealthy. It’s a cathartic process and without that process in place you may not feel too good. There is certainly a large price to pay for following a career in design, only a few make it and make a good wedge for living, I’m still not there yet. But I would prefer to lose the luxuries in life so that I can continue to do what I feel is my calling. Its what’s most healthy for my soul. I don’t want to give up, and there is no question that I would. I guess I’m stubborn.
LS: What are the biggest challenges you face as a designer?
DS: Being a designer is like any other job and any other life, the biggest challenge is to accept that perhaps you may not achieve your hopes and dreams, but you continue to try reach that goal.
LS: You work very closely with your brother so in a sense you are a family business. Can you tell me a bit about how that works? Is he the Robert Duffy to your Marc Jacobs?
DS: Funny you should say that as Robert Duffy jus bought four of our chairs. He's the business brain really, the contract guy, the guy that speaks with the factories, the guy who is patient and does not lose his temper when the factory fucks up. Where as, I would scream down the phone which doesn’t get you anywhere. He is what any business needs, Michael my brother essential for the wheels to turn. We disagree on a lot of things, but if there was no one to discuss what’s best with then everything would get made and it would be a disaster. Sometimes I feel like it’s a barrier working with someone who questions so aggressively but you have to as a business. I know he finds me infuriating too, I’m an artist with my head in the clouds, never thinking realistically. However there is a unity with make things work. There is literally just the two of us in the business though so there is a shit load of work to be done. Sometimes it looks like I do all the fun stuff and he does all the boring stuff, I think he likes the boring stuff though and I guess most people would say staring at a computer screen trying to get a 12.12376844 degree angle exact at 6400% zoom would be boring but I get a real kick out of it, what ever floats your boat. So maybe he is my Robert Duffy, I don’t know. But they probably share each other’s holiday homes and yachts, we share the tea bags, and occasionally I borrow a slice of white bread when I’m at his house.
LS: Proudest moment as a designer?
Seeing a chair we collaborated on with Glass Hill and my drawing hanging in the V&A as part of a large show. I think it is the thing up to now that will last the longest in the public eye. They’re some reassurance that I might live past my death, even if it’s just in a dusty book on someone bookshelf in 2081, which makes me happy. Funny the ego isn’t it?
LS: What is the most interesting collaboration you have been involved in?
DS: The Glass Hill chair, the Fred Perry project. I like the furniture, as there is a longevity there that is not reflected in fashion. It means more to me to know that that chair will be put used for decades but a shirt will be discarded.
LS: If you were to pick a soundtrack to represent David David what would it be?
DS: Something verging on bi-polar, reflective but explosive, reserved but cheeky goes a bit off sync in the middle. I think
Tiny Sticks by ESG
LS: What's next for David David?
DS: More furniture me hopes, interiors. Looking for interiors. I want to do some murals.
LS: So there you have it folks, look out for infinite possibilities and more furniture from David David!