You might be a devoted fan of Rhiannon Gilmore’s work without even knowing it; you might even look at it every day. And yet on the off chance that you actually know who she is — the force behind the four-year-old inspiration blog Intelligent Clashing — did you also know that she’s both an artist and a writer? Intelligent Clashing belongs to that universe of curated image blogs that provide a steady stream of visual inspiration for creatives, but whose editors rarely express themselves in words. Rarer still are the moments when we see them exploring their fascination with a certain image by engaging with its maker. In that missing link, we here at Sight Unseen saw an opportunity: Why not give these bloggers a platform for mounting small investigations into subjects that had recently caught their fancy? Every Friday (or so) for our new column Peer Review, we’ll ask the curator of an inspiration blog to pick a recent post from their site and ask the featured artist, or else an expert on the topic at hand, three questions of their choosing. Our first participant is Gilmore herself, who relished the opportunity to interview the New York fashion duo ace&jig, who left behind their role as founders of LaROK to start a label based on hand-woven textiles and vintage influences. Dusting off her reporter’s hat, the UK-based blogger says, ”injected a new focus into my blog.”
In her ace&jig post from earlier this week — which is actually more of a small slice from her stream of subtly related images than a single story — Gilmore compares the designers’ striped top, above, with the textiles and ceramics below. “The starting point was ace&jig’s Boro Pullover from Conifer Shop, which I placed with a Munn Straw bag from Belinka I’ve been coveting and a Louise Bourgeois fabric drawing,” Gilmore says. “The main connection for me there, aside from the obvious stripe and color link, is the brown band running through each piece. I just love it when that happens — these three disparate images that I’ve found and saved at some point, and here they all are using the exact same brown band. Put them together and they create their own rhythm. It’s just so visually and intellectually pleasing to me. The rest of the post explores different applications of stripes, and I feel like everything is brought together with my favorite find of the week: Suki, wearing a beautiful Maike dress, her own stripes billowing out while she contemplates their reflection in the water, which echoes the previous images. That’s everything Intelligent Clashing is about, really — creating these little studies of color and shape, a complete story made only with images I’ve found.”
Read Gilmore’s interview with Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson of ace&jig below, then follow the link at the bottom of the page to see the original post on Intelligent Clashing. Images, from top to bottom: ace&jig Boro Pullover, Munn Straw Bag from Belinka, Lisa Call’s Marking #15 (2007), Untitled fabric drawing by Louise Bourgeois (2005), detail of Beatrice Valenzuela’s home from the Ermie blog, image of Suki from Erika Jane’s blog Kotoa.
What are the touchstones of your designing process — the rituals you always go through and return to on the way to realizing a piece or collection?
Being utterly hands-on with our design process, we intimately explore the medium of a woven fabric. Our creativity is sparked by flea markets,vintage and antique shops, and daily digs through large vats of heritage fabrics we’ve “saved” in our studio (we’re textile fanatics). This textile passion is translated into our production of ace&jig garments: Not one fabric of ours is alike. We thrive on creating a new artisanal textile story each season. We work face-to-face with an amazing weaving technician, playing with the warp and weft until we arrive to a place of satisfaction. We’re constantly building on our previously used colors and textures. Each handloom is made from a careful selection of natural fibers, usually of various textured yarns, which are then hand dyed and allowed to sun-dry. The hardest part of each season is usually the last fabric we create — how it plays into the mix, from the repeat to the colors to the weights, etc. We like to think our silhouettes take shape in an effortless and seasonless fashion! Did we mention that we travel to our manufacturer in India several times a year? Well, we do that too. Quite the ritual!
I’m really interested in how you work as duo. How do you think your creative dynamic shapes the ace&jig aesthetic?
We’ve been best friends for 10 years and we’ve covered pretty much all the bases: living together, career, marriage and children around the same time—we’re even both Tauruses. We share high standards for our capacity to create authentic items. Ace&jig is a testament to our sturdy work ethic. We sit next to each other engaging in banter all day about mundane yet necessary things, from our taxes to the inspirational images we find on Instagram. It’s nice to be part of a team where you can bounce ideas off of each other, even if we’re usually on the same exact page. And the times we’re not, it usually provides a really good equilibrium.
I love that every ace&jig fabric is born from a stripe. Why do you love stripes so much? And what are they like to work with?
Yes, the stripe is truly an ace&jig uniform! Being designers of woven textiles — not printed — allows us to delve into the craft of weaving. For ace&jig we knew we needed a stable, yet recognizable pattern that would help provide focus to our expansive personalities. Designing is such a fluid, organic process, and we really wanted to begin each season and each fabric from a place of structure, a self-imposed boundary. Stripes are iconic, rooted in many cultures, and we felt we’d never tire of them. The historical influences of the stripe are abundant, from Swedish woven tapestries to Turkish kilims. There’s a great book called The Devil’s Cloth: A History of Stripes by Michel Pastoureau that illuminates all aspects of stripes and their origins. Weaving on a loom is naturally pretty linear and has a set framework, yet we love the challenge of creating fresh takes on stripe patterns via textures, dots, plaids, rows, repeats, etc. With each of our fabrics, we’re not only learning new methods of working with the intrinsic nature of fibers, but also how many forms the stripe can take.