Friday, June 5, 2009

The Horst Interview: Rui Pedro Andersen Rodrigues Diogo

Spon Diogo Fall/Winter 2009

A beautiful almost endless name, a beautiful almost eternal design approach. The collections of Spon Diogo convince due to their simplicity and strength. Delivering shields of purity for the modern fashion- and self-confident woman. As a design team Mia Lisa Spon and Rui Pedro Andersen Rodrigues Diogo are partners in all aspects. Working on various projects such as jewellery, graphic and accessory design as well as a wellness project. A unity of design and construction that communicates a unique language and creates soothing feelings.

Rui, can you tell me more about your design philosophy?

Our philosophy is that any object should be able to stand alone: 'Simplicity is an essential quality of good design. And it is one of the most complicated things in life, because you have to take away, take away... It is the start from a precise executive and functional concept, and the designer should be able to explain over the phone why his object is designed in a certain way and how it ought to be made - so simple that it endows the object with a distinctive character.' (Vico Magistretti)

What are you wearing right now? And yes, this is also a question of underneath.

I wear what I normally wear: All monochrome: black cashmere polo neck, black slim Helmut Lang jeans, black wool socks, Jil Sander shoes and white briefs.

What is your personal background? Rui Pedro Andersen Rodrigues Diogo sounds like a multiple personality…

My mother is half Norwegian, quarter Egyptian, quarter Namibian. My father is Portuguese but a bit mixed too. My mother married a Danish man, so I primarily grew up in Denmark.

There is something very mysterious about the Spon Diogo woman, who is she?

She is not really that mysterious. She is urban, a socialite. She enjoys the better things in life, such as art and other delicate cultural offerings. She will do anything for love – yes anything. She is not afraid to go over the top, but would rather enjoy a life in the shade of her personality.

For me, the model in your Fall/Winter 2009 lookbook adds roughness and sex to your collection. Who is she?

The model is a lovely young Danish woman called Hanni Gohr represented by Unique Models. She is a dream to work with. We like to work with younger women rather than very young girls. It often lends the images a much stronger presence. As for the roughness – it’s all in the styling, grooming and the hard lighting.

One might describe your designs as a contemporary adaption of the independent, androgynous and sexual powerful woman, as deified by Peter Lindbergh and Helmut Newton in the early 90s. Would you agree on that?

Somehow to a certain degree. I grew up with a mother always clad in very strong pieces (YSL and others). Obviously this has had an effect on me. Also as icons they are the more interesting. We don’t see our lady as particularly androgynous; she is quite feminine. We see her power not borrowed from the male, but rather a self-relying power. She is powerful as a woman. She needn’t be naked, but can rely on her feminine powers, her character, charms and moves. Mia is of course that woman; so it’s easy for her.

Photo Hasse Nielsen Cover April 2009

Tell me more about Mia. A declaration of love…

Mia is simply the most beautiful, sweet woman I have ever met. She is kind to animals and children.

How did you meet? And how come you decided to start your own label?

Well Copenhagen is a village really, so we were bound to meet sooner or later. We know a lot of the same people. We met at this backyard party in central Copenhagen - love at first kiss. We started working on various projects for other companies and found a really good chemistry – it just evolved from there.

Isn’t it a risk to share everything, private life and work? Aren’t you afraid of failing and losing everything?

There is always a risk when you mix business and pleasure – a risk of spoiling both. However we find that we are very patient when it comes to love. Business will run its own course.

Rui and Mia kissing

You once told me you love kissing. Any advice you could give Horst and his wonderful readers? Can we book some Spon Diogo lessons?

Tongue is good! Also, another advice: Always wait a wee bit!

What else could you teach me? Do you have a hidden talent, no one knows of?

I used to be a real sporting man – everything from martial arts, skateboarding, running to fencing. Now I just work a lot. But I can still pull some grinds (Skateboarding).

You create pieces with sharp, severe lines, using strict colours, drawn by minimalistic restraint. Where does your fascination for purity derive from?

We always try to get dirty, dark and sexy, but somehow it always lands here. But I think the next collection will be dirtier.

How would this dirty, dark and sexy vision look like? Give me a picture.

Well, we are looking to work towards a more explicit sexuality. We have formalized a certain feel that has various layers of darkness – a sense of something hidden in there. We are working with structural clashes to enhance the graphic elements and layers.

Is there a concept behind every collection, or do you develop and elaborate your design aesthetic bit by bit, season by season?

We design almost every day. So in the end we have so many directions when making a collection that it comes to a selection of which road to travel upon. We try to make a collection as a strong whole – to be able to sum a collection up in a one liner. We do try to develop a certain sensibility before embarking on the collection/selection process, but somehow it’s a very fluent process.

Spring/Summer 2009

What would you define as your signature, may it be a certain piece or repetitive element?

Small feminine fitted jackets, fitted dresses. Great cut, fantastic materials.

Which designer could be named as most influential and inspirational for your concept of fashion?

Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo. It seems to me that there is a certain notion of singularity in the Japanese culture. An object must hold the power to stand alone, be self-referential.

If there were three iconic pieces of clothing everyone should own, what would they be?

Well, this relies on your style. But black jacket, white shirt and good shoes.

How sympathetic are you towards kitsch and exuberance?

Not too sympathetic towards kitsch, but exuberance yes, please. The more the merrier.

What is the ugliest thing you own?

I bought some shoes for going to the countryside from Clarks. I have obviously never worn them.

How will your future collection for 2010 look like?

We are working on a younger approach. Usually one defines youth as naïve and raw power. But we like to think of youth as more aware of the socio political changes. So maybe the Spring/Summer collection will be a slightly more political collection, less ladylike. We are using more contrasting materials.

Spon Diogo showroom & work drawings

Could you describe one certain look in detail for me, an exclusive little preview?

We are working with straps that envelope the body – sometimes they meet; sometimes they don’t. Skin is thus bare in non-regular strips. We are working with a slight futuristic feel.

And finally, please tell me a secret…

Designing is easy! Just follow your heart.


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