As by-product of Azusa Murakami’s architectural training, and Alexander Groves’ fine art background, the award winning Studio Swine produce work, which is as good aesthetically as it is morally. The duo create visually appealing, sustainable systems that people want to use in place of the conventional or less efficient, working across the fields of design, fashion and architecture. Studio Swine have collaborated with giant brand such as Veuve Clicquot and Heineken, always up-cycling unused materials, which results in irreplaceable products with a very unique story.
Your work tackles huge global problems, by offering an upgrade on simple day-to-day choices. What’s the biggest problem that we face, that you’d like to tackle or highlight with your work?
The biggest problems are riding the human population of un-stainable disconnected systems with the limited global resources we have. We could get so much more from materials and waste and make more interesting things in more interesting ways. The environmental cost is calculated so low and financial capital gain so high. China’s economy is growing but at a terrible price and I really think future generations, living with all the health and environmental effects, will say it wasn't worth it.
There’s no such thing as waste in nature, the systems are so well connected. We really want to engage with environmental problems in an interesting and exciting way. Sustainability is such a dry term and recycling is so unglamorous but both can and should be quite the opposite.
Desirability is prevalent in your work; however do the aesthetics ever hinder the physicality or sustainability achieved by your pieces?
We really believe in design being about transformation, we love beautiful natural materials but with marble or hardwood, it’s so lovely as there’s not that much scope for transformation. We love the challenge of working with undesirable materials and the constraint of always aiming for sustainable solutions is a great driver of innovation.
You’ve used architecture as a reference point for fashion pieces (i.e button covers); have you ever used fashion to inspire architectural or structural builds?
We haven’t worked much on an architectural scale yet but fashion definitely inspires our products. It always makes us think in terms of collections, themes and engaging with a new way of looking, where repulsion and attraction can flip. It’s hard to find another design discipline that creates such a seductive world as fashion; it’s a very immersive medium and one that product designers can learn a lot from.
You’ve provided an alternative to fast fashion with the "Seed Socks" (the portable dyers workshop that contains natural dye from plants and sustainably sourced bamboo fibre socks) –can you ever see yourselves releasing a fully sustainable collection, from head- to toe?
That’s a really great idea; we would love to do more fashion projects. We would really like to create a whole fashion film, where the interior, furniture and clothes are all sustainable and extraordinary.
As well as the "Seed Socks" you’ve created a very wearable range of eyewear, embellished with bio resin set human hair. Have you come across any other materials that are as abundant and renewable as hair, which could potentially be used in your work?
Yes we have a new material coming out soon that’s very abundant and renewable which is even more exciting. It’s still in early development so more coming soon!
“Pig Truck” is a self-sustainable mobile catering unit that uses the heat of pre-warmed rocks to cook through the food. Has this concept ever been used for any events or festivals?
We are using it for a summer workshop we are running in the south of France- Domiane de Boisbuchet in July, dates TBC
The “Slow Fast Food Restaurant” breaks down the production line of fast food restaurants. The diners are taken on a journey which starts by growing the crops, baking the buns, constructing the burger and then ritualising the sociality of eating. With time being so commoditised, which other parts of modern day life would you like to celebrate or even just compartmentalise?
For us luxury isn’t about having more things but having more time and space to enjoy an experience. We don’t envisage doing another slow project but this approach is something that carries through to everything we do.
What’s next for Studio Swine?
We have moved to Shanghai for 6 months and are currently working on new projects in China, we’re investigating the human hair industry, who is growing it, what happens to it and what are the possibilities for it. We have quite a nomadic existence and so we don’t know where we will be in 6 months from now but we know we’ll be doing something we love.