How best to show-off a new collection at London Fashion Week? Take the audience into outer space of course. With flying models, dancing bags, giant glowing planets and an epic soundtrack, another impressive Anya Hindmarch show came to Central Hall Westminster last week, this time collaborating with Silent Studios, to bring the collection to life.
Silent Studios, a London based design, direction and music studio, create bespoke audio-visual work for a variety of events and cross-discipline experiences, and they are steadily building a reputation for large-scale immersive work and creative content that blurs the boundaries between art, design, music, fashion and film.
They have worked with a variety of brands including Adidas, Burberry, Google and Shelter, and whether they are creating interactive tour visuals for Kasabian, a ‘holographic’ audio responsive sculpture for the British Fashion Awards, or a synaesthetic installation for Secret Sensory Suppers, their work seeks to combine their skills in art direction and musical composition, with visuals, sound design and digital elements influencing each other during the creative process.
“Experience led design is where we are positioned.” says Silent’s Nathan Prince. “Having worked in ad agencies and design agencies, it felt like a natural progression to somewhere more imaginative, where the audience feels something. Its quite addictive for us as we get to experience the audience experience it all too.”
Although Silent Studios don’t directly align themselves with a particular industry they often tend to work in fashion, in part because their work suits the nature of the industry – being in a constant state of reinvention season by season – and similarly with the fast pace of change in the music industry. Both often place emphasis on innovative experience-based audience engagement.
“They have to constantly push what they are doing and what those experiences are, that’s why we’ve ended up working in these industries.” says Nathan. “We’ve done four years worth of shows for Burberry, and their shows are events that are imaginative and content led, so over the years we’ve got good at getting under the skin of a brand and a collection quite quickly, and doing something really atmospheric.”
Video: Out Of This World, Anya Hindmarch, LFW SS14 show
Hindmarch is well-known for her inventive and extravagant LFW shows, and the task of delivering a show that realises her wildest dreams calls for an understanding of her trademark sleek but playful British style. It’s elegant but fun – it’s about creating beautifully crafted objects but without taking itself too seriously as a brand. Past events have been pretty spectacular – there was a toy factory show with bubbles, conveyer belts of chocolates and bags pulled by toy trains; a disused tube station in London transformed into a colourful lost property office; a merry-go-round of black and white cardboard Georgian rooms and mechanical characters; and last season 60,000 dominos cascaded in perfect formation around her newest collection.
“There was a lot of anticipation around this show, because of the shows she has done before, but Anya had a really clear vision, she wanted it to be less whimsical and more chic than things she had done in the past, but still with an element of humour,” says Silent’s Oliver Davies. “From our point of view, I’d say the real challenge was to try to find that level of chic and sophistication within the world of space, because you could go several different directions within that world.”
Hindmarch’s show’s are partly about presenting what has been going on in her head over the last six months, and with this season’s collection having a focus on lightweight creations, the themes of weightlessness and space seemed like a natural direction. With a treatment from creative director Stuart Nunn, the team began with music, writing and recording an original classical score that would provide a relatively epic sonic element to the show.
“A lot of catwalk shows source music and then cross-fade tracks together, and it feels like this is missing a trick,” says Liam Paton, Silent’s resident music director. “You are taking people on a bit of a journey, which can dynamically change throughout, so we worked quite closely with Anya and her team to work out where the musical cues should happening and bringing in sound design to highlight certain things going on.”
Video: The Making of a Show, Anya Hindmarch, LFW SS14
The team often work with additional specialists, such as coders, programmers or interactive artists. Nunn in this instance led on the more analogue elements for the show, such as the kinetic structure, with the bags coming down on wires in a carefully choreographed sequence, and the models being lifted up from the runway, space-walking and dancing through the air. Silent Studios understand that not all projects call for hi-tech elements or a strong digital presence; “In fashion you don’t want it to be really tech looking, you want it to be quite hidden,” says Liam. “You want it to be emotional, you want people to feel something,” adds Nathan.
This show is a good example of finding a creative solution for a brand that aims to have a high fashion appeal but with a certain British charm. Amidst a blanket of stars, the giant swirling planets showed projections of high speed spinning floating bags, and then became huge yellow smiley faces, (echoing the design of Hindmarch’s ‘Happy Shopper’ bag) – the delighted gasps and giggles of the audience were enough to show that they had got the level techy content and the balance of style with humour just right.
Silent Studios say they don’t have a house style as such, but as “architects of experience culture”, what they love the most is working in a live public facing environment, and creating exciting experiences to fit a brand – work that not only sparks ooos and ahhhs from the audience, but that is evidently the imaginative result of an adaptable, multidisciplinary creative process.