Two Different Groups of Artists Mock Consumers' Obsession With Luxury
A collection by Big-game for +41
Above; Elric Petit, Augustin Scott de Martinville and Grégoire Jeanmonod met at ECAL, in Lausanne. Respectively Belgian, French and Swiss, they developed a common approach and soon they formed a close team and in 2004, Big Game was born.
After the success of their first collection “HERITAGE IN PROGRESS” in 2005, Big-game came back with a new collection presented at the Köln imm fair in 2006.
Once again, the members of Big-game surprise us by creating a series of jewels for +41, a young Swiss fashion brand with a stellar reputation amongst the connoisseurs.
In their latest collection, Big-game questions the meaning of accessories and offers new alternatives to jewelry. This series of objects entitled “NEW RICH” results from the confrontation between mass products and luxury.
NEW RICH (as described by the artists)- Mass products meet luxury
When gold replaces plastic, democratic and functional objects become exclusive in a subtle way.
“We’ve picked standard, universal products, and replaced a part of each object by an equivalent in gold”, explains Elric Petit. “We love the shrewd blend between the down-to-earth functionalism of mass-products and the ultimate precious material: gold”
The scenography of Big-game’s exhibition in Köln reflects this ambiguity as it is inspired by black-market peddlers. The black suitcase that serves as a display stand for the objects is regularly carried around the fair grounds to meet visitors.
“Why buy a luxury lighter when you can have a deluxe BIC lighter?” asks Grégoire Jeanmonod. "Pimp your Bic pen, Apple headphones, Bic lighter, Swatch watch, brummagem jewellery and drawing pins with the “New Rich” collection!"
The Swatch has democratized watches as it offered a reliable and affordable alternative to luxurious timepieces. Here, Big-game substitutes a simple loop on the wristband by a golden version, making the object exclusive.
The BIC ball-point pen is an icon of democratic design. “We love the cap” explains Augustin Scott de Martinville, “it’s such a strong recognition factor”. Big-game’s version of the pen has a golden cap and – as it emerges from the pocket of its owner – becomes a jewel mocking luxury pen.
Over the last few years, the white Apple headphones have become an archetype. Here, Big-game replaces the plastic component holding together the two earphones by a golden one. This part thus becomes a pendant.
A plastic piece of jewellery can have some true qualities but will always suffer from a mediocre image. With the golden price tag, it suddenly becomes a truly valuable object!
Playing with the tradition of lighters being luxury objects, Big-game exchanges the BIC lighter’s plastic push-button with a golden one. This well thought mass-product becomes exclusive while staying functional.
Using push pins is the simplest way to fix something on the wall. Why choose a complicated solution in the name of luxury? A golden push pin will do!
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Now, Big Game is not the only creative minds to marry luxury with mass marketing. When it comes to creating products that mock consumerism and society's obsession with wealth and luxury it's hard to top Tobias Wong and Ken Courtney (aka Ju$t Another Rich Kid).
Tobias Wong and Ju$t another Rich Kid had created similar items based on a similar philosophy.
They call their collection "Indulgences"
Tobias Wong with fellow designer Ken Courtney, of Ju$t Another Rich Kid fame, also combined well-recognized symbols of mass consumption with qualities associated with wealth, luxury, and excess.
The duo took McDonald's classic coffee stirrer as well as the Playboy Bunny Swizzle Stick, both of the '70s — and notoriously used as drug paraphernalia — and cast them in gold, drawing attention befitting to their lesser known use.
Below are their Coke Spoon 1 and Coke Spoon 03, gold examples of everyday items also recognized as drug paraphenalia.
Other products include a Murdered Skull Pendant with diamond teeth, and capsules of gold flakes that when ingested turn excrement into gold.
Tobias Wong and Ju$t Another Rich Kid's products (coke spoon, swizzle sticks, murdered skull pendant and pills) are actually available for purchase at the following places, just click on the name to go:
Despite mocking the consumer, there's irony in the fact that people shell out a couple hundred bucks for these pieces of 'art', further illustrating the philosophy behind them.
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