How did you end up starting your own company?
We decided to start ensæmble for the simple reason that we wanted to do many different things. Fashion has never been our only passion – we have always been intrigued by a variety of areas. Having our own constant project has provided the platform to explore these passions. Performance and photography have always been part of our sartorial process but we started making sculptures in early 2015 when we were asked to make a solo gallery exhibition in Helsinki. We had been hoping for this opportunity for a long while so we were thrilled to do it.
Your work is something in between fashion, art and craft. How would you characterize your designs? What makes them special?
Yes, we always seem to find ourselves in between fields. We’d say this is exactly what has potential of making our designs unique.
Can you tell us a little bit about your on-going projects?
Currently our work revolves around three things. First there’s the artwork. This is something we do completely independently, trusting a very untrustworthy process and pushing ourselves to experiment and research. Then there’s the bespoke artistic direction and concept development that we do for other companies, which has to date taken the form of photography, video, installation, spatial design and performance. We find these projects really interesting and have been doing quite a lot of them lately. And finally, every now and again we still make clothes. To have been invited to take part in the fashion after Fashion exhibition at the MAD museum in New York along with designers who we have admired for a long time is a big deal for us.
In which direction do you think fashion is going?
It’s an interesting time because fashion is going in so many directions. We’re so close to both collapse and regeneration: feelings of devastation and hope fluctuate from the one moment to the next.
What keeps you going? What is your ambition?
We have some amazing colleagues who are incredibly determined to get the places in fashion which they have imagined for themselves. Maybe we are too curious to be decisive in this way. We want to explore as much as we can and therefore we’re better suited with a multidisciplinary approach. This diversity doesn’t mean that we’re not ambitious (we really are) but that the end goal is maybe a bit harder to decipher. Although it does seem fair to say that we are getting more and more ambitious about the actual art work. For the moment we really hope to be able to travel with our work and introduce it to people far and away.
Identity is something very personal but also collective. Do you consider your selves as Finnish designers?
Yes but it’s not evident to us why nationality seems to be so important in fashion. There are many people in the world with whom we have much more in common than “Finnish people”. While the interpretation of our roots is relevant for us in both our subjects and our approach, there is so much more involved: the music we listen to, the artists we love, what’s happening in the world, accidents and coincidences that take place. All of that matters to us.
In your opinion, what are the strengths in Scandinavian design at the moment?
As a concept, Scandinavian design has great commercial value. It has many recognizable features that people can describe with familiar adjectives. If you describe yourself as a Scandinavian designer you will probably be put in a certain frame or concept. We do not feel our work is very close to that concept. At the moment the term probably needs to be freshned up with some new names and adjectives.
What have been the highlights of ensæmble so far and what are you hopes for the future?
We are currently working on really great projects and good things seem to be happening – it’s super exciting. So the here and now is definitely the highlight of the moment. For the future we want to work with great people as internationally as possible. As we get more confident in what we’re doing – finding our own voice and trusting it – we hope to share it with more people.
fashion after Fashion
April 27, 2017 to August 6, 2017
MAD museum of arts and design