If the design had a dark side Lauren Larson and Christian Lopez Swafford would be the promoters. The creative couple, who draws under the name of Material Lust, created their own aesthetic identity, which they call Oppressionism, recognizable by the combination of heavy theatricality, high manufacturing and use of uncomfortable images (pornographic, religious iconography, pagan symbols).
Their purpose is to create objects with a strong symbolic value that can be perceived as otherworldly, sculptures with a functionality to be passed down from generation to generation.
”We wear black uniforms, we are not social and we do not follow trends”.
Three years ago they opened The Annex, a collaborative space/lounge in the Lower East Side, to bypass the expressive and commercial restrictions with other galleries and showrooms and have a place where they can dictate their own conditions.
Here are exposed pieces of Material Lust and Orphan Works (label that includes orphan projects to which they decided to give a new life) in addition to works by artists who embrace their philosophy.
Tell us a little about you, where did you meet?
We met at the Parsons School of Design in NY where we both earned a degree in fine arts. Christian specialized in product design while I in interior design. Christian was born in Washington DC and spent most of his childhood in Oaxaca with his painter mother who encouraged him to immerse himself in the rich artistic heritage of Mexican culture. In addition to Material Lust, he is a teacher at the design university. Instead, I grew up in Portland and for 10 years I worked in creative consulting and artistic direction product and interior development. As Christian, I was lucky enough to be influenced by the work of a painter mother.
What are the things that unite you and which ones differentiate you?
In common we have the same aesthetic taste that we call oppressionism.
As for the differences I’m type A: rigidly organized and proactive while Christian is more fluid. I am more conceptual while he has more the mind of an engineer.
What is your aesthetic?
Our aesthetic is obscure and derives from a philosophy of solitary life that is independent of trends. We want to honor the dignity that exists in what is considered disquieting, in the grotesque or forgotten. A forward-looking design that uses the ancient craftsmanship of old craftsmen to express themselves.
Why did you choose the name Material Lust?
It was the name of Christian’s band in high school.
Who are your typical customers?
We work regularly with clients looking for bold and unorthodox methods to develop their product brands or spaces. In general, they are artists: musicians, tattoo artists, creative artists.
What are you working at right now?
We like to say that we are working on our next album. Three years have passed since we launched Annex, a collaborative space that is the ever-expanding extension of the brand’s vision able to bring radical design to the fore and redefine the concept of Total Work of Art. We will celebrate 5 years in our new Soho studio with a very personal work.
All of us, probably, would have had a couple of alternative routes regarding our professional life. What are / would have been yours?
We have made the mess with incredible mentors in our field. We did not want to do anything other than artists.
Favorite object in the studio?
Lauren – Portmanteau Her (the first piece made together)
Christian – Vanishing Twin Chair.