D'heygere's Collaboration with Pepo Moreno's is Deviously Surreal
Stephanie D'heygere's latest collection involves customizable little whiteboards you can wear.
A D'heygere whiteboard bracelet customized by Pepo Moreno.
The Paris-based Belgian-born accessories designer Stéphanie D’heygere doesn’t remember the first time she met Spanish painter Pepo Moreno. Moreno, on the other hand, remembers it perfectly. “It was at her place very late at night,” he recalls laughing. “She doesn't remember that I was there with some of her other friends. I had to remind her who was there, what were we doing, what music, what sort of apartment it was, [and then she was like] ‘Yeah, you were there!’” Not long after, D’heygere and Moreno saw each other again, and quickly became friends. So when D’heygere started to conceptualize new work under her namesake label, she thought of Moreno almost immediately.
D’heygere’s latest collection involves little whiteboards with special markers. The designer has always enjoyed making slightly absurd pieces of jewelry that can be customized, and this felt like a natural extension of her work. To put a bow on the collection, metaphorically speaking, she asked Moreno to take her whiteboard jewelry and transform it into a micro art piece. Moreno worked fast, and within twenty minutes of starting, he created a few surreal—and in his words—“brute,” pieces of art, inspired by his queer identity and his desire to create work that is transgressive and witty. GARAGE chatted with both D’heygere and Moreno about their collaboration, what they love about each other’s work, and more.
How did this collaboration come together?
Stephanie D’heygere: We call it Carte Blanche. It's something that I've been doing on Instagram for quite a long, almost a year. I actually ask artists that I like to do something with the products. So most of I’ve done this with photographers. I lend them the pieces and they can actually do what they want. With these pieces of jewelry, because it's called the whiteboard, the idea is that you can accessorize your accessory by using the [markers]. Obviously for this, I thought it would be great to work with a new artist. I thought that Pepo, because I really love what he does. I explained a bit of the idea and told him he could just do whatever he wanted.
Pepo Moreno: Yeah, it was so much fun. I’ve know Steph for quite a long time now and I really, really like her brand, and the message that she conveys in her accessories and her pieces. They have such a personality and uniqueness and it was like a no-brainer for me.
Can you each tell me about your processes?
PM: I'm very autobiographical. In my art there are certain subjects that appear all the time, most of what I make is about identity and being a queer individual and living in the world. I normally work in a bigger format. So it was pretty challenging actually to work on those little pieces of whiteboard. I usually work with sprays and acrylics and everything that I do is very brute. It's very methodical. There's not that big process of researching or whatsoever. Most of the time I try to just start painting based on an image that I have in my head, or I’ll [quickly look up] a reference that I found somewhere, like on Tumblr. That is the place actually where I mostly find my inspiration and references.
There's still people on Tumblr?
PM: Yes, it's so good still. I prefer Tumblr over anything else. I get lost very easily there. I think that people are still creating things there, for sure. People are very engaged with it. For Steph, I think that I started working with the idea of hell and being a faggot, basically. So I tried to translate that in some pieces. That's it. It was so much fun. I had never worked with markers before.
SDH: Actually, I’m wondering because I never asked you, because obviously with this jewelry, it's very easy to wipe off what you draw, because that's also the concept behind the jewelry. That you can adapt, you can change. Did you have to [change anything]? Or was it immediately a success? [Did you have to start over at all]?
PM: I had to do it a couple of times, because I was not satisfied with what I was getting. I like things to become spontaneous so if you prepare and draft a lot, the result is not the same. So it was very, very fast, like within 20 minutes I was literally done.
Steph, what about you? Can you tell me about your process a little bit for this collaboration?
SDH: One of the big [tent poles] of the brand, I would say, is that it's very conceptual. One of the concepts that I try to translate every season in a different way, [is the] fact that you can accessorize your accessory. So in the beginning, we had these earrings that I continue selling in which you can [insert] flowers or cigarettes or a roll of banknotes or in a message. So this concept, I was doing for a couple of seasons. And then I was thinking, were there other ways to give people the ability to really personalize their accessories? Something super easy that everybody can do at home. To be honest, I don't really know where the idea of the whiteboard came, but I had it. I was like okay, I think this could be really nice. I have to say, it was not so easy to produce because the jewelry makers never worked with that material and it's a paper that's quite sticky so you cannot buy it in a different way. They had to cut it by laser, which was also difficult because the laser was burning the edges of the papers. You have to find the right level of burning. But yeah. Now it's in the stores. I think it's selling well. Also when you buy it, you get the four markers with it, because if you do it with any other markers you can actually ruin the piece.
When you look at the bracelets, because I always look at architects of jewelry, it's inspired by ID bracelets. Normally where you have it in full metal or you engrave your name on it. Now of course, you can write any name. Yours, boyfriend, girlfriends, or anything else. There's also this other idea where when I don't want to forget something, I write it on my hand. So now I actually write it on the bracelet instead of on my hand. So it's all little stories that come together in this [interesting and conceptual way].
What do you guys each love about each other’s work?
SDH: For Pepo, like he said actually, I think I love the fact that you can tell he's very spontaneous. It's also big in scale. Okay, now of course with this collaboration it's very small because it has like that to the side, but when I came to your studio, I think it's so nice. Your wall is full of these big, big papers. Pepo’s work is so expressive and also so colorful. It just makes me happy, to be honest. I mean, I'm sure there's also some negative sides that you're trying to, that you need to get out, but overall it just makes me happy to see what you do.
PM: What I really like about Steph’s approach to design is that she always keeps a hint of the absurd in her business. So, [with her earrings] you actually can insert actually like a lighter on it. Like this whiteboard collection, for example, there's something very absurd and very stylish. So it's not only an accessory, it's something that has a story and utility that you were not expecting from an accessory. She goes a little bit, she surpasses the idea of the simple accessory.