CONVERSATION

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser

issue #36: Inspiramentation

The 36th Issue of Caleido, coinciding with its third anniversary, explores the most intimate, enigmatic, and suggestive aspect of the creative mind: the process of mental re-elaboration that allows it to draw inspiration from the surrounding environment to devise something entirely innovative. This process, which connects inspirations and experimentation, is encapsulated in the concept of the neologism “Inspiramentation.” To delve into this theme, we’ve talked with Arthur Arbesser, fashion and product designer. Welcome to Caleido, the Kaleidoscopic Observatory on the world of creativity / Read the Editor’s letter here.

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
Ph. Giorgio Veronesi
1. I start with a personal question: what initially inspired you to become a designer? What are the first memories and feelings that emerge when you think about your first relationship with creativity?

It all definitely came about thanks to my parents, who have always taken me to theaters, museums, art gallery openings and especially to the opera from a very young age. They always showed and transmitted to me a great passion towards everything that can be considered beautiful and ignited in me an enormous curiosity and desire to discover, see and learn. Then through the costume on the stage I understood the power of a dress.

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
2. You have Austrian, Viennese roots. How does your personal cultural heritage, and your natural diversity from some of the Italian brands you have worked for, influence your creative approach?

I know that my nature, my Viennese origins influence my work so much. I haven’t lived in Vienna for more than 20 years and I think that, just being away from my homeland, leads me to reflect more carefully on my birthplace, the place where everything started and realize how important that can be. Vienna truly has an immense cultural fabric: from the distant past as the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to the radical change wished for by artists, designers, architects and scientists around 1900, to the “Viennese Actionism” of the 1960s. Also, not to be underestimated, Vienna is the city of music: a true center of music and dance. All these elements coexist in me and continue to strongly attract my attention and curiosity. Certainly Vienna, its art, history, music and culture, represents the starting point of my creative way of acting.

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
3. Thinking about Vienna, which I visit regularly for @ViennaDesignWeek: what are 3 places dear to you that I should visit to really understand the essence of Vienna? Do you visit them frequently?

Definitely @viennasecession: not only the whole building from the point of view of its exterior structure, but also Klimt’s “Beethoven Frieze” in the basement and, if you can get access to it, the management rooms on the second floor are also stunning.

Then I would say the @cafekorb – a historic cafe in the center of the city featuring a 1960s interior design, a lunch menu that changes daily, a place that hosts citizens all day: Viennese people are there every day and it is simply the place to be.

To finish I would undoubtedly mention a visit to @mak_vienna – the museum of applied art. (Read the Conversation with @mak_vienna artistic director Lilli Hollein here).

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
4. Your aesthetic is often described as bold and innovative. Do you agree with this definition or would you like to change it? Where do you draw inspiration from to break conventions and experiment with new concepts? What is the creative process you adopt and how does it influence the narrative of your stories? Are there rituals or habits that help you focus and find inspiration?

I don’t know how to answer that, I personally wouldn’t call myself that bold, in fact I like to look to the past and the older I get the more I like and am inspired by beauty in the classical sense. Perhaps among the many brands that exist today our aesthetic comes across as bold and innovative? I am certainly not the one to say that. To focus and search for the right inspiration, I always find great help in classical music; when I am alone I often listen to Schubert and Mahler in the studio, for me they are perfect to work with. Everything always starts from a lot of research, collected photos or newly born passions, a topic discussed over lunch in the studio or an evening where you learn the name of an artist you didn’t know or, even better, you happen to meet him personally. It is very important to me that each collection tells a story and becomes a small chapter in our “book,” the one we are writing with each new collection. The purpose is never purely commercial.

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
5. In your work you have often confronted the creative legacy of great designers, such as Giorgio Armani or Marc Jacobs. In your vision, how can we continue to sell high-fashion to the younger generation? What are the levers that this audience is most interested in?

I worked at Armani for seven years and learned a lot. I find that it is crucial to stay on your own path and not be influenced too much by your surroundings. I speak to a small niche of consumers in which, in part, there are also real relationships of friendship and mutual esteem. So I don’t particularly perceive the risk of losing the “connection.” I believe that as long as you create a good, interesting product with a strong concept behind it, you can always find people who are interested in the project.

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
6. Your collections often seem to play with structure and form, treating garments as if they were architectures. What is your approach to manipulating materials to create unique and distinctive pieces? Would you call yourself an impulsive person?

I am a very instinctive person who involves more the heart and less the brain. That’s also the luxury of being a completely independent designer: we in the studio can really do whatever we want! It’s wonderful and priceless. Then, thinking about our collections, we treat the surface more than the form. We work a lot with prints, graphic effects and patterns that then create special effects once they are sewn and made into a garment.

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
7. Is there anything you wish you had been asked about? An aspect of your work or creative vision that you would have liked to have been emphasized more?

I am happy to point out that I do this work out of passion and creative joy. It’s like having my own showcase that allows me to work with people I respect and do things my way and less following the “system.”

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
8. What stimulates you intellectually? What are you most attracted to?

From people, from a potential meeting in real life with someone who makes me discover something I don’t know yet, something new. A passionate person, with a personal vision or with a real talent like a singer or a painter. But I’m also fascinated by craftsmanship, by the hands of someone who can create something, really well, like a carpenter or a glassblower.

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
9. In recent years there is a lot of talk about debranding and de-heritage. What is your relationship with a brand’s archive? And with its personality? What is the perfect formula for combining tradition and innovation?

When a creative goes to work for a brand obviously has to study and know very well the history and the archive of this brand, which are the backbone, the identity of the brand itself. At Arthur Arbesser, the archive is constantly growing, especially now with the different collaborations in the design world, and it is growing exponentially. New creations are added, chairs, rugs, fabrics. We are starting to have a space problem. Coming back to Vienna, for me it is really a city that blends tradition and innovation, and I can only espouse this project as well. I find that all the objects or clothes that really work and continue to appeal to us are a mix between something classic that already exists and an innovative vision.

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser
10. what is an object in your home that you would never give up? what is the memory attached to it? would you send us a photo taken by you?

It is my little “Pemo” chair: a mini chair that we designed and presented for the first time during the Salone del Mobile 2022 in @triennalemilano.

Caleido interviews Arthur Arbesser
@arthurarbesser

Diary of @arthurarbesser
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All images are taken from the interviewee’s Instagram account, and are an integral part of the interview’s editorial storytelling. See the interviewee’s Instagram account for full credits.

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