In a compelling new collaboration, esteemed design studio OK-RM teams up with artist Daniel Shea to create Ex Nihilo; a documentation of material products. Commissioned by fashion brand 1017-Alyx-9SM, Ex Nihilo is a series of printed objects including a book, a set of six posters and a stash of plates, contained within a high-gloss folder and fastened by the simple but trustworthy rubber band.
The beautifully designed printed paraphernalia is “a work of fiction”, produced by OK-RM’s publishing imprint InOtherWords. In the press release written by Maisie Skidmore, she explains how the work “exposes the mysteries of how matter and being appear to emerge from nothing.” The ethereal photographs document artefacts that have formed over a “geological aeon”. Daniel brings his delicate hand at photography to highlight subtle textures of these topographic objects. And together with the designers at OK-RM, the creatives collaboratively craft a thoughtful and elegant design to frame the images within the crisp white paper. As a result, Ex Nihilo embodies the work of both design studio and artist, as well as the bold garments of 1017-Alyx-9SM.
On the subject of this collaboration, founding designer of OK-RM Rory McGrath tells It’s Nice That, “It’s unusual to find the potential for collaboration on this level of synthesis, but from the moment the conversation started with Daniel, this was the case”. The project comes as a “radical new exercise in creative sustainability.” While the fictional narrative embodies the meaning of Ex Nihilo, which literally translates from Latin as “out of nothing”, the creatives draw out the material essence phenomena that has similarly arisen from nothing over several millennia. Daniel and OK-RM explore the “value and potential of natural resources” throughout the nuanced project that allows the viewer to interpret the story in their own way.
Through a concept-heavy artistic process, the project intends to “transcend time, space and scale”, acting as both temporal capsule and arresting piece of design. Significantly, it is also “the first in a series of narrative projects” commissioned by Alyx that places an emphasis on sustainability in fashion. Rory adds, “Clothes don’t exist in a social vacuum, they are mobilised and deployed by individuals and groups for specific purposes. That’s why storytelling is necessary in fashion. This is also why a clear belief system is so important, as without ideological precision you can’t control form or context.”
The book in Ex Nihilo is a particularly beautiful piece of work. Free-flowing between overprinted text and imagery, the designers utilise offset lithography techniques to create a textural sense of depth within the book. With a cover that folds back on itself, the creatives devise a narrative that has “neither beginning nor end”. Instead, the work evokes a range of themes, touching on archaeology through to industry, circling to and from these mutually exclusive matters across the edition that makes up Ex Nihilo.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.