Predrag Pajdic interviews Francisco Polo for Yatzer.com
What do you get if you cross two brains with architectural, scientific, design, art and entrepreneurship skills in a time of global austerity? Alternatively, what do you get if you take two internationally influenced Europeans with a passion for change and creativity in a time of conservative values and measures? Forget the cries of 'Yes We Can'; what you get is, yes, WE*DO Gallery. It is not in Paris, Madrid, Rio, Berlin or London; it is not even in New York. WE*DO Gallery is in Bangkok, that heady place of mystery and colour, shape and form; the new gateway into Asia. Yatzer recently managed to pin down an interview with one of the two founders, Francisco Polo.
The WE*DO Gallery consists of the two of you. Can you introduce yourselves please?
There's myself Francisco Polo and Markus Herchet. I am from Spain and Markus is German, so our points of view on everything are truly diverse. We come from such different backgrounds in terms of work, interests and culture. Even education: I studied Chemistry at University and Markus came up through the Architecture and Interior Design world. Twelve years ago I started working at IKEA in Spain as an interior designer and he was my boss. Then after 4 years, I left to open my first company, an Architect's Studio and a Distribution Agency in Madrid, importing the best Scandinavian brands into Spain. Markus was still with IKEA. My company was very successful, grew rapidly and approximately four years later I was delighted when we started to work together again. It was a crazy but wonderful time.
How did you come up with the concept for the WE*DO Gallery?
I had long harboured the idea of creating a unique multi-space where different creative fields could mix together. Thanks to my first company, I travelled to design fairs, opening parties for design stores, contemporary museums etc and during that time, I met a lot of designers, architects, furniture producers, photographers and artists. When the global economic crisis hit, especially Spain, it made sense to put all the pieces of the puzzle together at the end of 2009 to create the concept of what became the WE*DO Gallery. I had to generate business somehow as most businesses were suffering throughout Europe and the United States. As a result, the WE*DO Gallery is a mix of so many distinct, wonderful influences. These unusually range from business contacts from past jobs, life experiences, my travels, friends, in fact anything fascinating I might have discovered throughout my globetrotter life. Perhaps it's destiny that brings creative people to the same space.
Why did you decide on Bangkok for the place to launch the gallery?
Originally, we obviously considered Germany or Spain, the countries of our birth, but we really wanted a completely different life experience, a lifestyle change not just a new business venture. We both have family and close friends in the US and in Europe; but we found ourselves thinking about South America and of course Asia. We were searching for a really exciting and inspiring experience. However, the first option was Rio de Janeiro. I moved there for two months in order to study and check out the market, lifestyle quality etc but finally, and just at the point of relocating to Rio we decided it was a better move to go with Asia. If I had to be analytical, I would say our relocation is half down to destiny and half most probably because our daily lives are more connected with the Asian way of life.
I am unashamedly, a lover of all things Asian. In the past I had travelled extensively to Japan, Jakarta, Singapore, Hong Kong to name but a few and so, in some way, it was easier to move to Asia instead to South America. Why Bangkok? ... That's easy, after eight years of travelling to Thailand and enjoying extraordinary holidays, breathtaking paradise islands and beaches, an excellent quality of life, spectacular gastronomy and that really great 'Tropicana' mood, it became an easy choice to open the gallery in such a place. Of course, needless to say before the big jump from Spain to Bangkok, we spent six months researching the business market, competition, international factors for trade as well as the impact of such a life change.
What kind of treasures can be found at WE*DO?
Remembering this is a multi-creative space, in the Architect's Studio Library and exhibit in the space you can find collections from Moroso, Asplund, Vitra, Carl Hansen, Fjordfiesta amongst other well known names in the design world. Excitingly at the moment, we are securing a business collaboration with Boffi and Cappellini. We also offer a small selection of lifestyle accessories from brands like Pia Wallen, Muuto, Marre Moerel, Pioriobranco, Iittala or Ligne 13 by the fashion designer Maison Martin Margiela. This is not for the mass market but focuses on limited editions and distinctive pieces for design collectors.
For example, right now, at WE*DO there are some unique pieces designed by the Design-Duo Lotocoho (Jorge Lopez & Anna Tomich). Some of them are made in collaboration with Jaime Hayon in Treviso - Italy, and others have been designed especially for the Fashion-Award-Winner Joaquin Trias. We are also proud to be an exclusive point of sales for the Zoo tables by Eero Koivisto Rune for Asplund in Bangkok, a limited edition of 100 coffee tables in stainless steel, brushed brass and polished copper that have been received warmly especially by art collectors around the world.
We also have a limited edition of Obi (50 pieces in the world) designed by Pioriobranco, a re-interpretation of the classy Japanese Obi made in black silk using the best suede and leather from Buenos Aires as well as a "Sexy Beast" ceramic object (limited edition of 60 pieces) designed by Marre Moerel. This is simply not to be missed. In addition, one can also find signature collections in fashion, jewellery, accessories and exceptional lifestyle pieces which have been designed in co-operation with international designers such as the special edition ready-to-wear shirts by Martina Müller, unique maxi-necklaces by Hellena Rohner and a Sushi Bags Collection by Pioriobranco exclusively produced for WE*DO Gallery. We are constantly being challenged and inspired by great artists and we are committed to keeping our rotation fresh by offering new and exclusive art pieces every few months.
Something quite exciting is happening on the 5th of January 2012? Can you tell us something about it?
The Gallery is a lively space, where creative things just happen and with a rotation of four exhibitions each year plus unexpected small events such as DJ or tattoo sessions, catwalks or video projections. Whilst I was looking for the inaugural 2012 exhibition, I had many options, trying to decide between artists, designers, architects, etc but after much consideration and weighing up all the alternatives, I decided to contact Predrag Pajdic. You see, I had been following Pajdic's work (your work) for about two years as I always like to "double-check" on the people who I might collaborate with before I talk or contact them. At the end 2010, I sent him an outline of the concept of the gallery and asked if he would be interested in curating the first exhibition? I received his positive answer - just minutes later… What more can I say? I'm really proud to have the opportunity to show his project ‘The Oracle’ as the first WE*DO Gallery exhibition consisting of magnificent creations by many great international artists that will make the 5th of January 2012 the most spectacular and inspiring night in Bangkok; what a great way to welcome 2012.
What are your plans for the future?
Right now, we are concentrating on a new gallery 150m2 extension as well as new brands and new events for the coming year. The planned extension is a glass-outdoor-patio where we will exhibit the K-12 Boffi Kitchen, perhaps one of the most contemporary and best quality kitchens on the market. We will also move our actual Architect's Studio to a bigger area and we will be including one of the biggest names and players in the fashion world as an exclusive point of sale in Bangkok (right now, I cannot say any more - it's top secret!).
Also in the near future, we are starting a collaboration with Elena Broms, the food and beverage director of the Dusit International Company Hotel in Bangkok. It is a new concept named Borderless Dining. This will be a series of evenings hosted by artistic chefs in creative spaces, hosted and attended by a few select movers and shakers with the first such private dinner at the WE*DO Gallery around February 2012.
There is also a long term plan for a Design Boutique Hotel…