From the earliest examples of art fusion between Salvatore Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli in the 1930’s and Andy Warhol and Yves St. Laurent in the 1960’s, art fusion has never failed to capture our collective imaginations. In the last decade, the number of art fusion collaborations has proliferated, now with many different types of Artists collaborating with many different types of Brands. Brands in the fashion industry have generally dominated the movement, causing one to wonder whether our culture’s fascination with these unions and the resulting marketing impact could translate to less glamorous products – soap, for instance.
A recent example has caused much debate at ARTS & LABOUR. Method, the US planet-friendly soap and cleaning products Brand has collaborated with London-based printmaker extraordinaire, Orla Kiely. The outcome was a limited edition line of hand soaps in various fragrances complimented by unique patterns á la Orla.
The debate? While there’s no denying that the collaboration has had an impact for Method – blog and magazine coverage has been enthusiastic and grocery store shelves are now much more pleasant to behold. But where there’s room for debate is whether the collaboration has enough ‘Art’ at its core to be worthy of the name art fusion. As lovely as they are, do the resulting products push any boundaries? Has Orla stretched her creativity past simply stylizing? The most important question we asked ourselves is whether the marketing impact the collaboration created could have been greater if yes were the answer to those questions.
Perhaps if Orla had gone beyond attractively dressing Method’s existing package and instead reinvented it to add more ‘ahhhhhh’ to the final outcome, there would have been more buzz? Even more chatter? Even more desire and more of a bang for both parties? Or, as we’ve seen with other hugely successful art fusion collaborations, if the Orla printed bottles were only one aspect of a dynamic collaboration, merely the icing on the cake, perhaps there would be no debate to be had.
The moral of the story? It’s perfectly fine for a Brand to dip its toe into the art fusion pond but it takes a full commitment to this art form of our time the make the biggest splash.
Stay tuned for our take on the differences between ‘static’ and ‘dynamic’ art fusion in future posts.