Art peps up product designs

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Aug 23, 2012 - 20:18
  • Updated : Aug 23, 2012 - 20:18

Collaborations between acclaimed artists and top-notch brands bring synergy effects

The following is the sixth in a series of articles on design prepared in anticipation of the Herald Design Forum on Sept. 19-21. ― Ed.

The classy, monogrammed leather of Louis Vuitton bags is simply turned into a backdrop for much wilder patterns: artist Yayoi Kusama’s vivid red polka dots, for example.

The French luxury brand’s 2012 line features a collaboration series with the established Japanese avant-garde artist dubbed as the “Princess of polka dots.” She scattered bold, colorful polka dots and pumpkin illustrations all over the leather, presenting a visual shock.

It was not an easy task, even for Louis Vuitton which has collaborated with several top-notch artists in the past including Stephen Sprouse, Murakami Takashi and Richard Prince, to get Kusama on board. The brand’s creative director Marc Jacobs is known to have put great care to win her consent since 2006. 
Marc Jacobs (left) and Yayoi Kusama in front of Kusama’s studio in Tokyo in 2006. (Louis Vuitton)
Incase’s “Denim Cow Collection” (Incase)

The effort has paid off so far judging by the public’s interest in the new patterns soon after the series was launched last month ― part of the buzz is criticism that polka dots are too much and overshadow what Louis Vuitton has on its own.

“We have created shoes, bathing suits, silk dresses, trench coats with her spots printed over the monogram. To me, the Vuitton monogram and Kusama’s spots are both endless and forever. I hope that this will bring the work of a really special lady to yet another audience,” Jacobs said in an interview with U.K. magazine Grazia.

Collaborating with significant artists of the time not only gives a fresh look to the brand but also lifts up the brand to another level. It presents an image that the brand is artistic and innovative, and therefore worth anticipating.

Louis Vuitton is only one of the many brands that regularly roll out collaboration works with artists. An artist’s creative finishing touch is in high demand now for products in all realms, from garments, bags and shoes to beverage cans, refrigerators and even cars.

Andy Warhol, who died in 1987, is still one of the most in-demand artists in terms of collaboration. For instance, smartphone case and backpack manufacturer Incase Korea has been adapting the U.S. artist’s major works such as “Banana,” “Flower” and “Marilyn Monroe” into iPhone cases, laptop protective sleeves and tote bags since the spring of last year.

In the fifth series rolled out this summer, the company printed Warhol’s film “Chelsea Girls” and silkscreen print “Denim Cow” on its major products.

“Andy Warhol, who still has an ardent fan base worldwide, created original artworks that are considered to have been much ahead of his time. This Incase collection used his films, not paintings, as an object for collaboration for the first time,” said Incase in a press release.

One of the most interesting collaboration works between an artist and a product last year was Korean pop artist Mari Kim’s designs for the album jacket of popular K-pop group 2NE1.

Kim participated from the planning process of the album and produced animation characters of the members of the group in her signature style. The characters, featuring huge eyes, thick makeup and holding guns, drew as much attention as the girl group’s songs in the album, which topped local music charts soon after the release.

Public designs are not excluded from the trend of collaboration.

A total of 12 representative British artists including Martin Creed, Michael Craig-Martin, Tracey Emin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris, Chris Ofili and Bridget Riley participated in the design of the official posters for the 2012 London Olympics.

The posters received a favorable response from the public for promoting the Olympic spirit as well as reflecting each artist’s signature styles.

By Park Min-young  (