Legacy pieces are legacy personal narratives - told through a canvas, a sculptural object or a piece of furniture. They are works that question value and the notion of pricelessness. The heart of each work is built up from personal and seemingly worthless souvenirs that people collect through their lifetime. These souvenirs are incorporated within an object made by Based Upon so that memories, connections and sentiment are included within, and reinterpreted as, works of art. Traditionally, personal sentiment and emotion sits in quite a different arena to design but Based Upon’s pieces prove that a work can possess great artistic integrity whilst maintaining personal emotional resonance. In creating such pieces, Based Upon has pioneered a new kind of portrait. They are called legacy pieces because they are intended to last many lifetimes; to be handed down through a family line. They enable the commissioner to leave a personal legacy, telling their story or that of someone close to them within a piece of art or furniture.
The origin of our work was creating handcrafted metal surfaces. Our first project was to apply our surfaces to some chairs that we loved. The reaction to the chairs was beyond our expectations: our rusty version of Fernando and Humberto Campana’s Edra Favela chair sold at Philips de Pury for $36,000, and our distressed metal Vitra Panton Chairs are in the private collection of Vitra owner, Rolf Fehlbaum.
In many ways these chairs established Based Upon as a design art brand in its own right. The reaction to our work gave us the confidence to create our own pieces beginning with ‘based upon my school’, a limited edition collection of twelve customised old British school desks complete with engravings and graffiti. These desks sold in Comme-des-Garcons Dover Street Market.
At the same time, we were experimenting with multilayered handmade metal surfaces and presenting these to designers and architects to use within their own projects. Our experimentations involved applying and sanding through layers of liquid metals in alloys to create handmade textures inspired by nature.
Over the subsequent four years, we have produced a large portfolio of furniture and artworks. These include the Nobu Berkeley, Marco Pierre White’s Luciano and the Mayfair Hotel. Most have been commissioned and reside with their owners. Some form part of an edition and are available for sale. Our first large sculpture, Based Upon Number One, is on public show at the Cass Sculpture Foundation at Goodwood.
Our surfaces business has continued to thrive and, in the five years since we began, we have worked on projects on every continent. Our surfaces have transformed doors, walls, ceilings, floors, staircases, cabinets, wardrobes - pretty much every conceivable interior feature. We have completed large surfaces projects in retail environments: Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, and Donna Karan stores. In restaurants, including Nobu Milan, Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road, and Maze.
Where we set ourselves apart is that we hand-craft metal surfaces inspired by nature’s marks. The creation process is slow, careful, considered and intricate. There’s an old-fashioned, measured quality to the way we work. Based Upon’s creative style is to work with nature and to work with process, frequently travelling into a landscape to collect casts. We recognise that nature is a better designer than man, while man is a good editor of nature. We therefore allow nature to be part of our design and creation process by taking casts and allowing our pieces to crack, age and wear. This ethos carries across the surfaces, design art and furniture studios.
In the past two years, our surfaces business has been working on some of the largest super-yachts ever built. The standards demanded in terms of attention to detail and working to very tight deadlines has caused us to step up in our ability to deliver very large projects at exceptional quality.
Our large artworks are also featuring within these yachts, including a boat designed by Candy & Candy. Two boats completed this year feature a three-storey Based Upon installation that runs from the lower to top deck through the central axis of the boat. One of these boats is already winning awards and we are proud to have contributed to such an innovative project.
At 5 years old, we have decided to make a distinction between our design art studio and our surfaces business. We would like to give each of them more space to breathe so that each may grow and thrive independently of the other. They will of course always be very closely linked. Richard and Ian will continue to own and direct both. But each will be given room to create its own path. The surfaces business will create more affordable surfaces. The design art studio will take on more conceptual work.
The directors, Ian and Richard Abell, founded the company in 2004. As of June 2009, Based Upon is 5 years old and employs 27 artists and designers. It has over 150 clients and has collaborated with a large number of partners and suppliers.
During London Design Week, Based Upon will be showing their most recently created limited edition pieces for sale in The Unearthing of Cracked Earth at Kenny Schachter's ROVE Gallery until the 22 September 2009. They will be contributing a piece to Max Fraser's The Revivalists exhibition at Contemporary Applied Arts from Friday 28th August until 3rd October 2009. They have been commissioned to work on the redesign of the Deptford Art Project as part of a public art project involving the Deptford community. Concurrently, Based Upon will be working with the Quintessentially Foundation and the House of St. Barnabas on Soho Square to create a work of design as well as a photographic series that will be built around the donated possessions and stories of the homeless who use the House of St. Barnabas as a retraining facility. Quintessentially will be hosting a pop-up restaurant and club at the House of St. Barnabas from mid-September - December 2009 and Based Upon is one of the invited contributors.
- CAA Exhibitions
- Current Exhibition
- Coming Soon