Johanna Ulfsak x COSEINCORSO
Pillow Talk is the latest concept from COLLECTIBLE In-Depth. This new series of articles instigates design encounters in a playful setting. The idea is simple: we pair designers from the Curated Section and each duo then freely chooses three questions to ask to each other. They can tackle any subject, within the realm of design - or not! Today’s duo is Johanna Ulfsak and COSEINCORSO.
COSEINCORSO: For Collectible, you presented a kinetic artwork, a mobile. Could you tell us the story and idea behind this piece and precisely how it represents your practice?
Johanna Ulfsak: For the past year, I have been experimenting extensively in my studio with fabric manipulation and moving objects. I felt that I have to bring playfulness back into my practice. Tired after the pandemic years, I wanted to do a creative reset. I was questioning my work and my position in the creative field– how to find a balance between art and design; unique and reproduced objects; slow and fast methods; functional and spiritual realities, etc.? I started building elements of a mobile to answer these questions. Drawing parallels with hanging sculptures made by 20th-century avant-garde artists, “Motion Play” further explores movement and balance structure concepts.
C: Your medium of choice is textile. What is the place of heritage and tradition in your work?
JU: Both heritage and tradition play an important role in my practice; working with slow techniques in a very turbulent world is somehow intriguing.
C: This year, the theme for the Curated Section was « Escapism », what do you like to do when you are not working?
JU: Art is a potent form of escapism. But when your every day consists of creativity, it becomes dull normality. So, I try to remind myself every day what a privilege it is to work with my own projects– this is both a way to escape and to reflect. Literature, dancing, gardening which keep you in the present moment while at the same time, being distant from horror and nonsensical aspects of daily life and current events.
Johanna Ulfsakl: What was the starting point for integrating the story of Beguines into the ‘Les âmes simples’ collection?
COSEINCORSO: We started our project COSEINCORSO during the pandemic. Even if we have lived in Belgium for several years, we began exploring Belgian cities a bit further, like Brugge, Leuven, Turnhout, and Kortrijk, cities also known for their large béguinage complexes from the Middle Ages. Fascinated first by its architecture, we discovered the way of life of the religious women inside, isolated in these neighborhoods yet connected to the outside as they were makers and traders. This connection between these active ways of living and the serenity of the spiritual space made us think about how we can produce works related to local craftsmanship that can recreate this feeling of both intimacy and openness.
JU: What is your relationship with isolation? How do you keep your mind clear while we are all surrounded by algorithms and the turmoil of trends?
C: We both have an introverted part which leads us to isolate ourselves from time to time to work and reflect on ourselves. Again, during the pandemic, the isolation was forced but gave us even more time to think, create, and develop our project and first collection. Without this time, the result of our thinking would have been very different. The first object we made and the one we are showing at Collectible is The Mirror of Simple Souls: it is the first draft of this thinking process; the mirror refers directly to this spirituality as it reflects a blurry image of ourselves, an incomplete self.
JU: In your opinion, what is the future of collectible design?
P: As we both come from the contemporary art world, we think having an artistic look at design is essential and exciting. Collectible design should allow us to experiment and bring a new narrative between art and utility. We think it could be a driving force in the future to open the dialogue between disciplines and create interesting new matches.
JU: Extra question :) How do you collaborate as a duo?
P: We are a couple and have a strong common aesthetic. One is very detail-oriented, while the other has more a global approach. We manage to make it work and agree that both perspectives are essential to our practice. Our final goal is to make something that we both like, and this is our roadmap to make decisions. If it makes sense for both of us, we hope it will for others too!
Johanna Ulfsak (Estonia)
Johanna Ulfsak is an artist and textile designer based in Tallinn, Estonia. Her work is presented as artworks in gallery exhibitions and as non-seasonal collections of design and fashion objects. Ulfsak combines and mixes traditional weaving techniques with contemporary art concepts to create unique items and installations that challenge the established boundaries between disciplines.
COSEINCORSO is a multi-disciplinary design studio translating local histories into limited-run collections and creative services founded by Marzia Cerio and Marwann Frikach in 2021. Our approach aims to reintroduce poetics into the production process of objects and highlights the cultural context in which they are made. We focus on research and handcrafted production as well as on the valorization and transmission of know-how. We work in collaboration with artisans and source local material.
Each project is inspired by history, archaeology, and geography and translates the essence of a region into physical form. Our objects can be seen as an open door to our universe, but also as a possible form of escapism. We want everyone to feel both textures, materials and the work of the hand but also the magic, the poetry and the uncanny that the story behind each collection reveals.