This week, Akris debuted its Spring/Summer 2021 with a film directed by Anton Corbijn. For the collection, Creative Director Albert Kriemler found inspiration in the work of Imi Knoebel. The Dusseldorf-based artist is known for his minimalist, abstract paintings and sculpture that incorporate bold colors and neon lights. The exuberant collection features a bright palette of primary colors, geometric prints, and even phosphorizing fabric.
As a designer, Kriemler is no stranger to collaborating with an artist. Past collections have featured the work of Carmen Herrera and Geta Brătescu. Kriemler recently shared with Whitewall how he came to know Knoebel, as well as how he found energy and joy in these challenging times.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us about how you first encountered the work of Imi Knoebel?
ALBERT KRIEMLER: In 2004, on one of my early visits to the Galerie Wilma Lock in my hometown St. Gallen. I saw a painting which caught my attention. It was Face 50, an arrangement of orange, lime yellow, light turquoise, and pure green aluminum sticks brilliantly composed. I began to search for his “Face” works, a series he began in 2003 and it intrigued me that the temper of each gridded arrangement is different as one face from another, it is almost as his paintings serve as portraits.
WW: What about his use of color struck you?
AK: His stunning sense for colors. His colors are extraordinarily sensual. In abstract art colors like red, yellow, and blue are often used in a formal manner, but Knoebel shares Matisse`s desire to “make color sing” or as I would say, he lets color shine. I was always fascinated by the way he dares to develop new hues. It was in 2017, when we first met at his exhibition in Vienna, that I found out about his color kitchen. A studio draped with an infinite array of 700 color swatches. I can very much relate to his world of grand colors. Colors are everything to me and we need them now more than ever.
WW: You visited the artist in his studio in 2019 in Düsseldorf. Can you tell us about that experience?
AK: It is not just a studio, it is an entire house in which he works. With his color kitchen on the first floor, a carpentry and metal workshop on the second, and a paper workshop under the roof. Everything that Imi does, he does in-house and with his long-time partners. I felt very much at home since here in St. Gallen we do the same.
WW: Art and architecture have long inspired your design process—and you are no stranger to collaborating with artists. How do you know when a collaboration will work?
AK: It is purely intuitive. Passion or inspiration is something you do not plan, it is part of you. If it excites me, it sparks an incredible desire to create new. If my inspiration shares the same passion, I know that it will turn out right and always surprisingly different and new.
WW: Knoebel told you he calls himself a painter and craftsman, rather than an artist. How did that distinction strike you?
AK: I can very much relate to it. He does not like to intellectualize his art. The sensual experience is important to him, not its rational interpretation. When it goes on the wall, it`s self-evident,” he says, which, albeit in a different context, can also be said about my collections. Akris stands for nothing but itself. We are in a moment where this is more relevant than ever. For us, ease, versatility, and craftmanship were never a trend, not a seasonal issue. Our path hasn’t changed. We continue.
WW: What kind of fabrics were you drawn to?
AK: Our phosphorizing fabric that is loaded by the power of light and sun and glowing in the dark, surprisingly new, and never seen before. This idea came to life through the involvement with Knoebel’s Batterie, a giant phosphorescent cube, an extension of his famous Raum 19 work.
WW: What kind of message do you hope it will send?
AK: “Pure Freude” or pure joy, it is the name of a work series by Imi Knoebel. It stands for purely being in love with the artistic process. A spirit full of energy even in these challenging times. Having the privilege to go to my studio every day, working with my great team and his exceptional oeuvre in mind, made designing my next collection a constant flow of joy.