Rive Roshan was developed as the compound of the last names of these two designers. Ruben De la Rive Box and Golnar Roshan first met while working at a design studio in Amsterdam, and coming from different sides of the world proved no hurdle to the harmony between this creative duo. Playing off each other’s inspirations and backgrounds let them appreciate things that they might have otherwise taken for granted, and has led to some beautiful explorations and manifestations of texture and colour.
They tell us about the importance of collaborations and coming together as emerging creatives to aid the exposure of their ideas and to create a connection with the market – which is why they helped to create the Form&Seek collective, who have now showcased their work in Milan Design Week and the London Design Festival. They balance their work between Rive Roshan and Design & Practice, separating their more personal projects under the first (to keep complete creative freedom of their identity and voice) and creating spaces and brand identities for clients, focusing on expanding and collaborating for the latter. And though these approaches may differ, the signature Rive Roshan aesthetics and intuition for colour are cohesive throughout.
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How did this duo of designers, Dutch Ruben De la Rive Box and Australian Golnar Roshan, come together to create Rive Roshan and how do your respectively different backgrounds influence the way you work and create together?
We met working together at the studio of Marcel Wanders, at a time when it had an almost electric atmosphere and ambition. From the beginning, we had a real creative click and realised that our thoughts and ideas were strongly aligned. We come from opposite sides of the world and both have quite different cultural backgrounds but our references and interests were surprisingly aligned from the beginning. We both find each other’s backgrounds a source of inspiration as well and, funnily enough, we learn to love the things we take for granted from our own background, as it’s an exotic source of inspiration for the other.
Now that we have been working together for some years, our minds are pretty synchronised and we often don’t need to say a lot to convey our thoughts. Slowly, we have formed our own language, processes and thinking. Rive Roshan has become this outlet of creativity for us, where we can freely create and share what we want.
Are there any elements or characteristics that you feel define Rive Roshan?
We have quite an experimental and intuitive approach to our work. There are no clear set goals or frameworks. We move freely between art and design and often blend the lines between graphic, product and interior design. We are very interested in tactility and materials’ qualities, more than in a strictly functional approach – or working towards a certain typology. We love working with colour, as it is one of the most subjective and intangible qualities available for designers. Colour is very dependent on context, surroundings, cultural and personal views and taste, but at the same time, it communicates with people’s instinctive brain, which makes it easier to create an emotional connection.
We both have quite a visually driven background and we love applying these 2D visual concepts to physical forms. The combination of these striking visual images and the dimensionality of an object or a space is what makes us really excited. Ultimately, we try to create a world in each project, something people can really immerse themselves in.
Where do you tend to find inspiration and how do you play off each other’s inspirations?
One of our favourite lines from a poem says, "Work is love made visible". For us, this is the starting point for everything we do. We find inspiration in anything that triggers our passion and curiosity. Ideas come to us in our day-to-day conversations. Sometimes, they linger for years in a sketchbook before they come to life and, other times, they are simply the result of talking about a totally unrelated subject. When we both feel inspired by each other’s inspirations, we usually take an idea further into a physical sketch or material experiment.
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You are both co-founders of the creative collective Form&Seek, a collective of “young designers who believe that objects have the power to communicate meaningful messages and new ways of looking at the world”, as stated on the webpage. Could you share with us a little bit about your involvement with it?
We started the collective in 2013 alongside some friends who had recently graduated from the Royal College of Art in London. We wanted to be able to show the world our creative ideas and the only way to do it was collectively. We started our first show in Istanbul with our friend Bilge Nur Saltik, who we continued the collective with through to multiple shows in Milan and London.
The power of working with other talented designers is that you can learn a lot from each other and you make great friends from all around the world along the way. The collaboration makes the collective stronger than the separate individuals. We also really like the idea that we're part of a generation of designers that try to make it for themselves independently, rather than just trying to be picked up by a big brand. This self-organisation feels quite relevant for today's world, where the distance between a customer and designer/maker can be very close.
What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges that emerging creatives face in this very competitive industry?
We realised over the last years that creatives have incredible ideas and come up with great products, but there isn’t really a connection to a market or a demand. The biggest challenge is exposing these ideas to the world, making them be seen and marketed at the same time. There are many talented people out there who spend years developing beautiful work but never manage to really create a professional practice around it.
We have noticed this more and more with Form&Seek and realised that by combining our knowledge, contacts, experiences and functioning as a collective we can get a lot further together than doing it on our own. Still, the biggest challenge is to find a model that creates an economic basis for our type of creative entrepreneurship.
Age of Man, the latest exhibition for the Form&Seek collective and that you co-curated, took place during Milan Design Week 2017. When can we next expect to see the next exhibition and could you share any details regarding the next concept?
Around this time last year, many negative political, social and environmental events took place that left us feeling helpless. With Age of Man we wanted to respond to the growing awareness of the consequences of our actions. With this in mind, we curated and put together an exhibition that showed the way designers are playing a leading role in shaping the future attitudes towards natural resources, production processes and the consumption of goods.
Towards the end of last year, we decided to launch Form&Seek as a platform to create more opportunities for independent designers to have their uniquely crafted objects available for purchase from one centralised point. This year we are focusing on getting more organised and collaborating with brands to get the new collection seen and out there. We are taking a short break from exhibiting while we go through this transition.
“We really like the idea that we’re part of a generation of designers that try to make it for themselves independently, rather than just trying to be picked up by a big brand.”
In your own words, what is beauty?
Golnar: Beauty speaks to your soul!
Ruben: Beauty is one of the most used words in my vocabulary and yet the hardest concept to really put your finger on. The Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi: which is about the balance between the perfect and the imperfect, or even the 'perfect imperfection' for me comes close to what beauty is about. Beauty is the small disruption in a context of harmony and symmetry.
You also work creating brand identities, designing and packaging for clients like Harper’s Bazaar and Hyatt Hotels among others, under the creative studio Design & Practice. How does working for these big clients differ when speaking about the complete creative freedom that you possess at Rive Roshan?
When we work for our clients, we bring our knowledge, research and skills into their projects. We work closely and collaboratively with them to get to a result that they will be happy with and proud of based on our consultation. Many clients come to us because of our approach and ability to create thought-provoking experiences. Both studios influence each other although the output is different. A lot of our material research, colour research and narrative from our personal experiments feed into our client work, which is more of a collaboration. For example, for Publicis Drugstore in Paris we were asked to design a brand identity for their new restaurant, Le Drugstore. The final outcome was heavily related to our research in colour and materials and, in the end, we had a beautiful result that resonates with the restaurant’s visitors.
The reason for keeping them separated is that we want Rive Roshan to be an undiluted personal voice, whereas we see Design&Practice as a modular platform that can grow and expand with the input from many collaborators and can respond to external questions and developments. We really want Design&Practice to not be about individuals, but about a certain approach and philosophy, which is based on design-led thinking and conscious self-improvement and self-development. Based on this philosophy we hope to attract people with very different talents and skills that believe in the same philosophy.
What has your favourite project been so far? Are there any other companies or brands that you would like to work with in the future?
Last year, our Hyatt Regency hotel project launched in Amsterdam – it took two years from start to finish. We really loved working on it because it was a holistic project where we were invited to design many graphic and textural elements within the space, from the carpets to the wallpapers, to large-scale artworks and mirrors. We were also given a lot of creative freedom, which made it all the more fun and pleasant to work on. Since the hotel is located in the lush Plantage neighbourhood we envisioned a fantastical future for botanic. With the underlay of botanical drawings from the Amsterdam University archives, and an eye to an exotic, imagined future, the studio experimented with a variety of physical and digital techniques, materials and hues.
The result was a series of larger-than-life, dramatic visuals of plants in full bloom, bringing the spirit of both a historic botanical garden and a new, fantastical experience of flora deep into the hotel. What made this project really exciting was that we could create a narrative for the guests to become a part of, dream in and become immersed in. That is always our ultimate goal.
Since finishing the Hyatt Regency project, we have had some very interesting requests for private commissions and hotel installations. We definitely see our power there, as we can make a real emotive impact on a space by adding colour, texture and personality. Since we have both worked within big design studios such as Marcel Wanders and Tom Dixon, alongside product and interior teams, we are able to add our own signature in harmony with the broader concept and design vernacular. Another recent highlight is that we are now working with Tools Galerie in Paris to expand our range of limited edition glass furniture and objects. We really hope we can explore that area a lot more in the near future and the gallery has been great to work with.
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Tell us about your latest exhibition, Driving Dutch Design, in Eindhoven, back in October.
Last year, we were one of the twenty-two studios selected to become part of the master class program Driving Dutch Design, a program run by the BNO (The Association of Dutch Designers). We started the program upon our move from London to Amsterdam and got immediately immersed in learning about developing our creative practice. The final exhibition was an overview of the work by all the studios at the Klokgebouw during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. It was a great event to be a part of, as we had the opportunity to speak to many potential clients and interested visitors.
Are there any other projects you’re working on at this time?
We are working on numerous different projects at the moment, including a collaboration with Indian craftspeople working with specific traditional techniques. We are taking these skills and are re-inventing their purpose and use. Alongside that, we have been working on creating new coloured glass edition furniture pieces.
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