The most inspiring small, upstart brands are the ones that seem to know themselves from the get go. They have a strong point of view and more than a little courage. It’s little wonder that these brands also happen to be the ones that fearlessly engage in art-fusion collaborations, not only as a way to build their name, but also as a way to express their personality.
The über hip furniture store Mjölk in Toronto’s Junction area is a perfect example and a great source of inspiration. The timelessly modern, yet markedly original pieces of design they carry, along with the store’s strong aesthetic sensibility, cause some to consider it more of a gallery of Northern and Eastern design than a traditional retail outlet.
Mjölk’s decision to collaborate with international artists and designers on a regular basis has become not only the bedrock of their brand’s identity, but a way to ensure originality, simplicity and exceptional beauty in all the products they carry. For Mjölk, the most crucial aspect of collaborative process is establishing a mutually respectful relationship with each and every prospective artist or designer. So they do their homework. When they feel they know as much as they can about a potential collaborator, Mjölk goes farther than most small brands would consider in the age of Skype and conference calls.
They hop on a plane.
Whether it be to Japan, Sweden or Denmark, they feel it’s of utmost importance to fill the gaps that technology can leave, and meet the artist in person. Only then do they feel they can intimately understand each artist’s school of thought and vise versa.
Once the artist is chosen, the budget is discussed. Mjölk proposes an allowance they feel comfortable investing and the artist’s agreement provides a commitment to the design and manufacture of a product that will meet their mutual expectation visually and functionally.
Because they invest so much time and thought in the collaborative process, Mjölk’s knowledge about each product and the narrative of how it came into being is so extensive, it’s captivating. It’s Mjölk’s unbridled enthusiasm behind each of the products they share with their clients that often turns a simple shopping experience into an inspirational journey.
The bottom line? A successful collaboration, like any good relationship, is based on mutual respect, communication, openness, trust and a mutual desire for everyone to succeed – the brand, the artist and society as a whole.
In our next post we’ll compare and review two art fairs that took place in Toronto this fall, Toronto International Art Fair and Feature Art Fair. See you then.