Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
This weekend at Frieze New York 2018, LIFEWTR (PepsiCo’s premium water brand and the Official Global Water and Emerging Program Partner for Frieze) is welcoming guests to its LIFEWTR Lounge—an oasis of art, relaxation, and hydration. There to act as a colorful recharge for visitors to the fair, the lounge also celebrates artists from the brand’s extensive partnership roster and the ongoing series that have been created for vibrant new water bottle designs. Series 1 featured the theme “Public Art,” Series 2 was “Women in Art,” Series 3 was “Emerging Fashion Designers,” Series 4 was “Arts in Education,” and, seen at Frieze this year, is Series 5—“Art Beyond Borders.” Each series highlights three artists’ artworks, seen on LIFEWTR bottles, and on tote bags and postcards in the lounge. For this year’s series, the brand is celebrating the power that art holds to create cultural awareness, understanding, and unity with works by international artists Aiko, Yinka Ilori, and Laercio Redondo.
To further its dedication to the art world, The LIFEWTR Fund (which launched at Frieze 2017 to fund museum acquisitions) also announced a major acquisition of work by artist Ed Clark for the Brooklyn Museum. The selection was made by a panel including: the Brooklyn Museum’s Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Anne Pasternak; Deputy Director & Chief Curator, Jennifer Chi; and curators Eugenie Tsai, Catherine Morris, Ashley James, and Carmen Hermo.
And this weekend, LIFEWTR is hosting two discussion panels—“Inspiration That Transcends Beyond Borders” on Saturday at 2 p.m. and “The Uniting Voice of Art” on Sunday at 3 p.m.
In celebration, and to learn more about LIFEWTR’s many exciting art ventures, we traveled to Randall’s Island for Frieze to speak with Olga Osminkina-Jones, VP of Global Hydration and Innovation at PepsiCo.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us a bit about LIFEWTR and what makes the brand special?
OLGA OSMINKINA-JONES: Obviously LIFEWTR is a premium water brand, but it’s so much more than water. The reason for LIFEWTR’s existence is to be a platform for emerging artists. The brand is very committed to finding great talent, but also showcasing them and their careers, placing works of art, and beyond that—mentoring them, giving them media opportunities, as well as opportunities for professional and personal growth.
WW: Tell us a little bit about your role as VP of Global Hydration and innovation at PepsiCo. What does that entail?
OOJ: Essentially, I lead PepsiCo’s portfolio within the beverage space—mainly water on a global scale starting from the strategy to the way that strategy comes to life, and in turn, manifests itself in our portfolio of brands. In some instances, we either recreate or innovate on the brands that are already well known, such as Aquafina (which has become the number one mainstream brand last year). Another instance is creating absolutely new prepositions, and LIFEWTR is one of them. I truly believe that when we embarked on the premium water journey, the audience didn’t need just another premium water brand. It was an amazing opportunity to create something that is so much bigger than a product, and it’s a true artist system that has so much potential to make the world a little bit of a better place.
WW: When you mix purpose, passion, and business, only good things can happen, right? Business in the 21st century…
OOJ: I believe in the 21st century. From here on out, brands really have to think about what they’re doing. Without a true purpose I don’t think there is really a reason to exist. We all have pretty much everything we could possibly need, and it’s more about the impact beyond the product that brands are making.
WW: Tell us a little bit about LIFEWTR’s partnership with Frieze this year, and the brand’s lounge.
OOJ: This partnership has been in the making pretty much since the inception of the idea—of LIFEWTR, even before the brand appeared in the market. Frieze is the largest art publisher in the world, but also a supporter of a lot of contemporary and emerging talent in creative spaces, and we are extremely proud to align with an organization that is already dedicated to the impact they are making to creative communities. And in turn with the fairs, like Frieze New York, they are also able to catch the audience that is interested in art and connect creators and the creative world with much broader audiences (in one of the greatest cities in the world, New York). And beyond New York—with small events, gallery partnerships, or educational programs that we will work on together. And of course, the magazine that you can find in pretty much every notable museum or gallery around the world. For us it was a very natural alignment. We see eye-to-eye with pretty much everything we do. I hope with the lounge everything comes to life and with LIFEWTR being on every gallery table, it’s pretty obvious that this is organic. We as two brands align in our vision as to what we can create as an impact to society.
WW: LIFEWTR also hosts a creative series, where three artists are chosen each series to create a new water bottle design. The series have previously focused on topics like inspiration, inclusion, cultural identity, beliefs, etc. What did you want these designs to really express?
OOJ: Part of the DNA of LIFEWTR is the ability to drive attention and awareness in a broader society to true issues that exist within the art community and art worlds—and often issues that touch way beyond the art world. Every series, which we release roughly every four months, is anchored into one of those tensions.
Today, we sparked the conversation around women and arts, and we most recently talked about arts and education. Frankly it is a big mistake to consider cutting it out of the educational system because art is proven to be extremely impactful to all of the signs type of subjects and is proven to grow much more well-rounded, whole-brain thinkers, which our world needs with all of the developments in technology, like artificial intelligence, etc. Art is fundamental and critical.
What we are talking about today is the tension around cultural identity and this whole idea of art beyond boarders. Again, it has been proven many times, and we strongly believe art has the power to connect people—way beyond their cultural identity and roots. It bridges a lot of divides.
With Art Beyond Boarders, the real nugget in this tension is the fact that art has an amazing power to put aside all our differences and connect people around the conversation that actually bridges the divide. And focus on optimism, and the positivity of creating something new and meaningful in the world. By putting aside our differences, we as a community can be so much stronger as a human kind.
Every artist in the series comes from some country of origin, maybe Japan or Brazil, but they leave and practice their art in a completely different environment to them, whether its in the U.S. or Sweden. I think what is so powerful in that is that they are a living and breathing example of how they could take their roots and their cultural inspirations and bring it in a new environment and spark so much curiosity in that new culture. By that, they’re creating more positive and open-minded conversation and making people more accepting of how big and grand and inspiring the world can be.
WW: Tell us about your partnership with the Brooklyn Museum, and the work by Ed Clark that The LIFEWTR Fund endowed to the museum.
OOJ: I love the Brooklyn Museum’s philosophy because they try to acquire paintings from contemporary artists that they already support and believe in. This is going to make the Brooklyn Museum’s collection that much richer.
I try to give space to the right people to let them do their magic, so for me it was a moment of learning, I was learning more about the wonderful artistic talent through their eyes and through their mission as a museum. The work that has been purchased is also very true to LIFETWR’s expression of art, and what you can envision popping up on our labels one day, but it is a very positive and contemporary piece of work. Everything we do is about showcasing and advancing creators. We put on our labels artists that would benefit from a platform like ours, as well, so they can look back and celebrate that moment in their career—the moment of aligning with LIFEWTR. But when it comes to museums, it’s more about understanding what type of story they are telling communities. In this case it’s equally important. We try to advance and showcase organizations that are helping communities at large get closer to art and erase the borders that used to exist between art and appreciation of art for a greater number of people. I think the Brooklyn Museum, just the way they celebrate art every day (their open door policy, their events, bringing entertainment into the walls of the museum), democratizes art, which is exactly what we are doing. It is wonderful to be able to help an institution that is so committed to making more people appreciate art on a daily basis.