Phoebe English for Dover Street Market
Following in the footsteps of prestigious guests such as Simone Rocha, Tim Walker, Chanel and Lanvin, the 27-year old British designer Phoebe English has unveiled her first window installation at Dover Street Market. We sit down with the designer to talk about 'The Glass Globe', an enormous blue-glass sculpture created from the same glimmering textile used in her S/S 2013 collection.
Where did the idea of a globe come from?
I’m really interested in the stars and the planets and I think it came from my love of planets, astrolabes, celestial spears and globes, but also the space itself led me towards that, trying to do something in the round because a normal window display in a shop, everything is facing out whereas the Dover Street window space is different because you have the whole of the back open so it’s just like a room really. So the sphere is something that is supposed to kind of drawn you into it because that whole back of the space is open and it’s something that people can walk around and be part of.
The sphere refers to the idea of construction which is prevalent in your work. Can you please comment on that?
I like the confidence of the globe as a shape, it’s very big and it looks heavy — it is heavy — and I then wanted it to look like it’s just floating there. So that contradiction between the weight and the weightlessness, and then the contradiction between the solid form of the globe and the really irregular chaotic surface, so like those two things playing. And then the contradiction between the fact that the shape is floating but all the weight is falling of it, so it was all about playing with the notion of gravity. And of course how the light behaves. The beads are all made from glass so they sparkle slightly and the surface of the acrylic sphere underneath has a different type of reflection.
You explored an entirely new medium and way of working with this project. How did you find the experience? Would you do it again?
I was talking to so many people, like “I don’t know how to actually make this”, and I just get the same reply “It’s not possible, it’s not possible, it’s not possible!”. We kept finding new people to talk to and asking new people, and finally, after talking to so many people and just working and working and working at it, we found a way to do it, but it’s been a very long process of problems solving, and logistics, and measuring and geometry. It’s been really a whole different thing but it’s so satisfying. It’s different from when the collection is ended, because when the show is ended, you don’t having anything: you just organized it, there’s nothing you can see. I mean there’s the photos but it’s not the same as being there, you can never be at your own show, whereas we finished this last night and it was like Wow, it was such a big high to be able to actually look at it and celebrate it. It’s a good feeling.
Did your original idea match the finished installation?
There was a moment last night when we put it up... We were all holding it while somebody tightened the string and we let go of it and I had that moment where I was like “It’s exactly the drawing!”, which has never happened before. It was so weird because the drawing was done so long ago and it was such a quick sketch. But it was amazing that it’s exactly how I saw it in my head.