Creating ad campaigns for Apple, British Airways and Ford; art direction for Alexander McQueen, countless book covers… none of it has wavered the intrinsic artistry of design duo Kai and Sunny‘s work, the D&AD award winners still look most comfortable in a gallery space. Whether it’s as part of James Lavelle’s gargantuan Daydreaming with… project, or intimate East London galleries, the duo’s delicate, ethereal (capable of the occasional shift towards disquieting) work is always stand out; the inimitable aesthetic forever the source of wonder.
As part of our Create GB project, we caught up with Kai Clements to talk work, collaborations, British creativity and punk…
Where’s your hometown, and where are you based now?
Sunny grew up in Kendal, around the Lake District, and I grew up in a town called Yeovil in Somerset. Both rural places and areas of natural beauty. I believe this has had a large impact on our work. Sunny and I started working together over 10 years ago, and we had a studio in Hoxton Square for many years. We now work from Brighton which gives us a great balance, and feels a very creative place. London is close by, and our agent and gallery are both based in central and east London.
Do you think location affects creativity?
I think location can affect creativity, what is around you will always have an impact. However if you stay in one place too long you miss what is around you. I believe travel is important for creativity, over any one place.
How would you describe British creativity?
British creativity is strong and diverse. Creativity is something the British are good at. The UK is so multicultural, all styles are merging. I think this is exciting for future work and the creativity of this country.
If we could replace the Queen on bank notes with one iconic British design, which would you choose?
The desert boot is an iconic bit of British design.
Has being British had an effect on your discipline?
I think discipline is about how you were brought up. I was always taught to work hard and be nice to people. That discipline often works :)
What do you think the rest of the world’s view of British creativity is?
I would like to think the rest of the world look at British creativity highly. However it works both ways; I look at Japanese design, Danish design very highly, I could go on…
The Swinging ’60s, punk, Hacienda-era Manchester… is there one period of intense British creativity that you’d like to have been a part of, and why?
It would have been great to be in London for the start of the punk movement. In its original form it came and went so quickly, but the impact was immense. The punk movement completely changed creativity in this country and paved the way for so much. Creativity in this country owes a lot to it. Personally I was slightly too young, which made the visual aspect even more exciting.
Where in Britain do you feel most inspired?
London and the south coast. Sunny’s would be the Lakes.
The top 3 British creatives who have inspired you?
Henry Moore, Sir Peter Blake, and Thom Yorke
Will you be watching the Olympics?
If creativity was an Olympic sport, who’s the one person you’d want to represent Britain on the global stage?
Right now Jeremy Deller would do a great job to enhance social change.
What makes you smile?
My half American children :)
Fish and chips, Cornish pasties… what’s your favourite British dish?
We’re going to the pub and we’re buying, what are you drinking?
A pint for me please, and a Guinness for Sunny.
What’s next for you?
We’ve just finished a group show in Hong Kong – Daydreaming with… The Hong Kong Edition. It was a great show to be part of, and James Lavelle and Simon Birch did a fantastic job of putting it together. Sunny and I are starting on a new body of work, so some interesting things should be happening next year; including a piece we are working on which Frank Black from the Pixies has written a poem for.
We are just starting on a little collaboration with oki-ni which should be out in Autumn. Later in the year we are part of a show called A Million Pieces in Portland, curated by Sven Davis from Arrested Motion.