When we developed our vision for Baola, we knew that we wanted to work with exciting contemporary artists from around the world to produce aesthetically beautiful Swiss balls, the likes of which no one had ever seen before.
Each design had to be intriguing and unique, so that Baola would be more than simply a Swiss ball, but also a beautiful object of art in a room when not being used as a seat. We brought that vision to life in 2018 with the reveal of our first Baola design, The Orbit Edition, which was designed by the British artist and illustrator, Mike Lemanski.
To explain the artistic vision and inspiration behind The Orbit Edition, we sat down with Mike Lemanski to find out a bit more about his work as an artist and the process behind his creation. Here, in Mike’s own words, he describes his collaboration with Baola to create The Orbit Edition.
How would you describe your body of work as a designer?
“My work is quite varied, but I have mostly been working within print publication and branding, either working directly with established brands on campaigns or with new businesses wanting to create a visual language and new branding for their businesses. My main body of work is around illustration and design for editorial print.”
Where do you draw your inspiration for your design work?
“I take inspiration from a number of interests, which I approach in a more investigative and explorative way. I also study design as an ongoing process and allow this to work its way into my practice. I think as a creative, it’s important to seek out inspiration through various different means, one of my biggest inspirations is travel. I find the whole process of what travel brings to be inspirational!”
What inspired you to work with Baola?
“I felt that the ethos and the idea behind the creation of Baola was really interesting, an inspirational story which I wanted to help be a part of. Initially, I liked the idea of working on a physical object in fabric, allowing me to translate my print work into a real world product.”
What was the inspiration behind The Orbit Edition?
“When I initially approached the project, I wanted to connect the visuals with the physicality of the sphere. To do this, I chose to work with the idea of ‘orbits’ and my initial explorations were based around the idea of planetary orbits. When you first see the Baola you are struck by its size as an art object. It feels more like a sculpture and I used this size to relate the idea of a planet. I wanted the visuals to relay a sense of gravity and a flow around the object.”
What was the design process like?
“For the Baola designs, the process was very experimental at first. I wanted to create a pattern that was organic and this meant working with inks and paint at larger scales, being freeform with elements and expressionistic in my approach. I was able to amass a body of work that I could then use to compose patterns around the theme.”
Baola was the first round object you designed. How was the process of designing a spherical object different and unique from other designs you have created in the past? What were the challenges presented by designing a completely different shaped object than you are used to designing?
“I have constructed books and reinterpreted objects to create new works in the past, but generally speaking, my work is concerned with flat surfaces, working on paper, in print and on screen. I found that as an illustrator, the opportunity to expand my work into other mediums such as fabric that can be utilised for objects a logical step, but there are technical difficulties involved with the process.
Creating for a physical object in the shape of a sphere had a number of challenges; the main issue was that the construction of the Baola cover would consist of fabric panels each being stitched together. This necessary construction made it difficult if not impossible to create one seamless design around the whole object.
Instead of seeing this as a problem, I used the constraint as a way of adding an abstract visual quality to the design, making it multi-faceted within one design, rather than seamless. This made for a more dynamic experience for the user.”
How did you come up with the colour scheme for The Orbit Edition?
“I wanted to utilise a limited palette but have certain elements overprint and create new hues. This idea came from the initial development work that started with print. I wanted to link back to the organic process that started the project and I also wanted to get a sense of floating within the design. I began with two complementary hues, the vibrant blue and flat gold. I knew these would work together but I also wanted to contrast these with the peach tone that encircles the floating elements. Overall the main aim was to create a harmonious palette that would work within modern interior spaces.”
What do you hope people take away from your design of The Orbit Edition?
“I hope that there is a sense of the process within the design. I think that as an object the multifaceted surfaces can be read in various ways. The design is meant to reflect the object and I hope this comes across.”
Have you any other upcoming artworks or showcases that you would like to share with your fans?
“I have been busy recently on a number of commissions for various clients which has included things such as book illustration, branding projects and, as always, editorial illustrations. I’ve not had a lot of time for personal works which is an area I’m most interested in, I am hoping to create more personal work in the near future and I already have a number of ideas for what this may look like, potentially working on things off the flat surface and into objects similar to the Baola project! I’ll see where I get!”