This season, the MIMCO x National Gallery of Victoria story continues with a capsule collection inspired by the gallery’s Escher X nendo | Between Two Worlds exhibition. The immersive exhibition features the largest collection of M.C Escher’s iconic works, engulfed in a contemporary take on his key themes created by Japanese design studio nendo.
Discover more through our conversations with MIMCO jewellery, leather & soft accessories designers Sophie, Carla & Meg, as well as NGV Senior Curator, Prints and Drawings, Cathy Leahy.
How did the Escher x nendo exhibition come about?
Cathy: Escher’s work’s not been seen in Australia before and we wanted to mount the first exhibition, and we wanted to bring a contemporary reflection to the presentation of his works. As he’s been so influential for architects and a whole range of designers, we thought that we would approach a contemporary design studio to design the exhibition installation. nendo’s design creates an extraordinary immersive exhibition experience and in it, you can encounter Escher’s graphic world in a completely new way.
What is it that's so unique about Escher's approach to art?
Cathy: Escher’s looking at the world in a way that's very different to a lot of other artists. He’s not only responding to the beauty of the natural world but analysing it very closely. He comes at those from the perspective of mathematics and geometry and wants the viewer to question their preconceptions. There’s that wonderful quote from Escher where he asks, are you absolutely sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling? If you're walking up the staircase, are you absolutely certain that you're going up?”
How has the work of Escher & nendo inspired the MIMCO collection?
Sophie: “We used the key attributes of Escher or nendo’s works as the inspiration and building blocks for our own range. For jewellery, we focused on the notions of repetition, perspective/ mirroring, and the manipulation of basic geometric shapes to create an abstract form. The silver finish in particular was a nod to the work of nendo. Other materials such as marbled resin were chosen to show a unique link to the natural world.”
Meg: “The Tessellate Scarf plays with the idea of optical illusions; the print combines interlocking geometric patterns with forms that appear three-dimensional. Accents of floral blooms make it a unique and somewhat fantastical piece.”
Carla: “We were mindful of taking the key principles of Escher and nendo as inspirational foundations and translating them into the capsule collection. For the leather pieces, we loved the idea of taking Escher's principles of reflection, symmetry and nature—and using them to build on an iconic MIMCO shape.”
Why is MIMCO’s partnership with the NGV so important to you as designers?
Sophie: “I love that we were able to bounce off the inspiration and ideas of others to collaborate and present our own unique point of view. It’s important for us to remember that we design as a response to something; that the pieces we wear—and design—have meaning. The pieces in this collaboration have a real integrity to them, because we had the chance to behave more like artists.”
Meg: “Having the opportunity to work with the NGV on this project has been really inspiring. Escher’s work is so iconic and as a print designer, it was especially exciting to create some pieces in line with the unique exhibition.”
What is your favourite piece from the MIMCO collection?
Sophie: “My favourite would have to be the Tessellate Hoop; I love the way it folds around your ear to create a sculptural silhouette.”
Cathy: “I think that the pieces that respond to Escher’s tessellation work are fantastic. Tessellation is such a key part of his practice and in fact inform all of his later and most famous works. It’s wonderful to see a MIMCO design that picks up on this core idea in such an original way.
Carla: It would have to be the Flip Side tote.
It’s important for us to remember that we design as a response to something; that the pieces we wear—and design—have meaning.