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Design Collaborations: Why Are They So Important?

Decorex caught up with Melissa Byrne, Founder of Byrne Communications, to delve into the world of interior design collaborations – asking why are they so important for the industry? Throughout Byrne's career, she's worked with several high-profile clients for whom she's helped bring fabulous collaborations into fruition. 

Innovations: Trends, Collections & Collaborations just so happens to be our content theme for The Edit in June. We'll be revealing speakers for this month's programme of talks and giving a sneak peek into what they'll be discussing, precisely. 

Melissa Byrne walks us through the concept of design collaborations, outlining the dos and don'ts and highlighting some of her most memorable projects to date.

The Key to a Successful Collaboration

Collaborations - they're not exactly a new invention. As far back as most of us can remember, design brands have been putting their heads together to create wonderfully innovative masterpieces that combine two celebrated styles. But how does one orchestrate a succesful collaboration? Byrne says that "a successful collaboration is a genuine meeting and sharing of minds, aspirations and identity that can enhance and move ideas forward." 

Furthermore, the best collaborations can bring something entirely new to the table, according to Byrne. "[They] can bring a new energy to all partners. With that comes greater awareness and all that brings. For the interiors, architecture design and art market the undisputed silver lining of the Covid-19 shutdowns will be increased collaboration." 

Having new and vibrant deisgns infultrate the market naturally leads to innovations in the industry. The concept of combining methods, styles and materials helps to carve new trends and open up the design space to fresh ways of thinking. "Sharing ideas leads to heightened creativity and new ways of working," says Bryne.  

While it can seem like there are no drawbacks to collaborating with another design business or brand, Byrne points out that there needs to be a shared mentality between parties. Otherwise, creating a new product or design together might be difficult or not render the results that were originally intended.

"There has to be shared brand values at the core of any great collaboration. Size doesn’t matter – large heritage brands can benefit from smaller edgy creatives if there’s a common thread such as a respect for craft or the making process.," she explains.

Melissa Byrne of Byrne Communications | Hirondelles by Lalique and Fromental

Melissa Byrne's 3 Rules

We asked Byrne to share 3 rules for any design brand considering a collaboration. 

1. "There has to be a genuine affinity, a shared identity and belief system"

While collaborations can sometimes play on the idea of contrast, Byrne points out that there needs to be a shared belief system in order to make it work. Make sure there's a link between yours and their brand. 

2. "Mutual respect and trust between the two parties is key"

As ideas and contacts are shared along the way, collaborations work best when both parties are equally invested. Show your partner respect and choose a collaborative brand that you trust.

3. "Lines of communication have to be open as there often hold ups along the way"

You'll be working closely for a long while, it's important to gauge that you can work at the same pace. Always keep communication lines open. It’s a good idea to have a very small working group on both sides with a pre-agreed timeline. 

Rachel Chudley VIP Lounge with Cox London

Memorable Collaborations

Byrne recalls some of the most successful collaborations she's worked on during her career, one of which was between Lalique and Fromental - a collaboration with a genuine affinity on both sides. "For its 130th anniversary,  the Lalique Hirondelle’s and Dahlia motifs, originally created as the top of powder boxes for women of the Belle Epoque were paired it with a highly decorated chinoiserie pattern in a winding composition with open spaces to accommodate Lalique crystal," she explains. Fromental created a new chapter with Lalique, moving the concept of wallcoverings forwards. 

Cameron Design House and Steinway was another collaboration noted by Byrne, which started from a conversation and led to a beautiful Steinway chandelier to celebrate London Design Festival. A true example of right place, right time. 

Earlier this year, the iconic fashion designer Matthew Williamson collaborated on a new collection with British furniture brand, Roome London. Each print that was made adorns the classic furniture shapes well. The print designs themselves are inspired by travel - creating a joyful aesthetic. 

Looking to the future, Byrne discusses collaborations she's got in the pipeline. "We are also working on an exciting collaboration with Graphenstone – the world’s most certified eco paint and a well-known Design House.

"As a product, it really is unrivalled in terms of its eco-credentials - an industry trailblazer with over 1000 colours of beautiful, high pigment paints. The collaboration has integrity at its core and will be launched later in the summer," she says.

Matthew Williamson for Roome London | Tamara drinks cabinet showcasing Sunburst

A Few Favourites

We asked Byrne to describe one of her most faourite collaborations in design to date. She shares details of The LOT collaboration between jewellers Sarah Pulvertaft and Jed Green with embroiderer, Beatrice Mayfield was based on the ‘Exquisite Corpse’ method.

"Rather than designing a piece as a trio they each began a piece and passed it on to the next until all three had contributed within a pre-agreed timeframe and with no discussion between them during the making. This way of working pushed them creatively and encouraged them to work within and beyond their usual methods. I thought it was a very interesting process for a set of brands to adopt," she explains.

Another she remembers vividly: "The design collaboration between Peter Doig and Dior really caught my eye as it wasn’t the obvious choice – atmospheric paintings into menswear – but it was an intensive working collaboration as well as a fitting convergence of two complimentary worlds.

Upholding the Industry

Our conversation with Melissa Byrne illuminated the fact that collaborations are vital for upholding the interior design industry. The bringing together of different ideas and styles is something to be cherished, and will undoubtedly live long into the future. Daring brands are constantly conjouring up new ways of working together, whether that be through the merging of patterns or the lending of 'arenas' by which to present their designs in. We look forward to the next big design collaboration and wonder what new and exciting creations our favourite brands will come up with next.

Steinway Chandelier for London Design Fair 2019

The Edit: June’s Content Revealed

The Edit is a new digital content hub from Decorex that’s been curated around the needs of the design community who, now more than ever, require a reliable resource that’s easily accessible all year round. The Edit filters out the noise by delivering fresh perspectives on essential topics.

In June, The Edit’s content theme is Innovations: Trends, Collections & Collaborations. Brand new design sessions will be released on 17th June, where you'll be able to hear from the like of Bill Amberg - Founder of Bill Amberg StudioAlistair Hughes - Managing Director of Savoir BedsCamilla Riviere - Founder & Designer of Riviere Rugs and Peter Gomez - Lead Designer at Zoffany. Plus, trends expert Emily Gordon-Smith from Stylus and John Lewis & Partners Home designer, Sarah O’Sullivan, discuss three long-lasting effects of the pandemic shaping product design in the home; health and happiness, sustainability and flexibility.

Become a member for exclusive access to all the latest releases and The Edit's vast archive of content.

Pictured L-R, Top Row: Sarah O'Sullivan, , Anne Cuthbertson, Camille Riviere, Jessica Jonzen | Bottom Row: Emily Gordon-Smith, Sandy Redbook, and Peter Gomez

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