Artist Philipp Schenk-Mischke channels Coal Drop Yard’s spirit of reinvention in Ace & Tate’s new store
The German artist was brought on board to create custom objects for the eyewear brand’s new store in Coal Drops Yard, using materials in inventive ways.
- It's Nice That
- 15 December 2021
Ace & Tate, an eyewear brand from Amsterdam, has had a long-standing relationship with creativity since its founding in 2013. Over the years, it’s embedded itself in the creative community by commissioning artists, illustrators and photographers, as well as profiling numerous creatives in campaigns and the like. Extending its expression beyond straight-up retail seems an important element of the brand and this is most evident when visiting an Ace & Tate store.
Boasting multiple stores across Europe, each interior is unique, often designed in collaboration with a local artist or studio and likely inspired by the shop’s location too. In 2018, for example, the brand teamed up with Anyways and Assemble’s Granby Workshop to do up its then-newly opened shop on London’s Brewer Street. They covered the interior with Granby’s iconic tiles in colours paying homage to the paving tiles from nearby Carnaby Street during its 1970s heyday.
Continuing this tradition, Ace & Tate has worked with German, London-based artist Philipp Schenk-Mischke for the opening of its new store in London’s Coal Drops Yard. Back in the day, Kings Cross was the go-to spot for London’s ravers and way back in the day, the site on which the shopping area now sits housed two Victorian coal drop sheds. It’s an area with a history of reinvention and, as an artist who repurposes materials as a core part of his practice, Philipp proved to be the perfect collaborator. He remixes materials in unexpected ways in his sculptures, blurring the boundaries between low-key products and high-end craft. “This often results in functional material explorations that try to elevate ‘tasteless’ materials and objects into the world of contemporary design,” the artist explains.
To create his works, Philipp employs an unusual process. First, he makes his ceramics by slip casting, an industrial technique used to mass-produce clay objects. Then, instead of a paintbrush, he embellishes his clay pieces using a body vibration plate. “I use a remote control to shake the wet clay on the plate, letting it take over the process of making – and letting myself become a spectator who steps in at a certain point,” he outlines. “I try to clash opposites to create something unexpected and induce a certain amount of inconsistency into a process that otherwise aims to be consistent, while making it more fun at the same time!” Interestingly, this proclivity for imperfection stems from Philipp’s time in industrial design. “During my first years at uni, it seemed unthinkable to let go of control,” he recalls. But in an attempt to forego his designs taking on elements of the zeitgeist, he began to embrace processes with a certain level of unpredictability to “helps me overcome my own constraints,” adding that “I’m attracted to the tensions and contradictions it creates.”
When creating a series of artworks that simultaneously function as pedestals for Ace & Tate’s eyewear, door handles, or decorations on mirrors, this unpredictability was channelled through the use of hijacked clay from his studio. Reworked clay can warp in the kiln or colours may change, making each piece unique. Building on this, he also worked with a high-performance material made from recycled paper that’s commonly used for skateparks, and fashioned it into organic sculptures that double-up as eyewear plinths. “The sculptures underwent a few iterations, going from organic shapes to the more geometric forms they are now,” Philipp reflects. “I like the idea of replacing things which are usually industrial and subject to norms – like door handles – with something that seems primitive and handmade, and a bit out of place, but still fulfilling a specific function.” The resulting pieces coalesce with the exposed brick walls and wood beams, while the original cast-iron columns – finished in bright colours that nod to Philipp’s designs – are centrepieces in their own right. The resulting installation is a masterclass in materiality.
GalleryPhilipp Schenk-Mischke: Ace & Tate, Coal Drops Yard. Photograph by Edmund Dabney (Copyright © Edmund Dabney, 2021)
Ace & Tate believes inspiration is everywhere if you just open your eyes wide and Take Another Look. The Amsterdam-based eyewear brand endeavours to support the creative communities that fuel the world with inspiration and make it a brighter place to live in!
Philipp Schenk-Mischke: Ace & Tate, Coal Drops Yard. Photograph by Edmund Dabney (Copyright © Edmund Dabney, 2021)