Without doubt one of the most exciting labels on our radar, A.FOUR made its debut at The Goodhood Store for the AW13 season and with their superb Spring/Summer collection due to launch next week we thought it'd be a better time than ever to delve into the story behind the brand. The brainchild of artist and Goodhood collaborator Lucas Price and Japanese design guru Kazuki Kuriashi, A.FOUR specialises in producing classic garments with forward thinking detailing and a distinct graphic identity. We caught up with co-founder Lucas at his new artist space in Whitechapel to talk about the brand philosophy, design, collaborations and what the future has in store for A.FOUR.
GH: Hi Lucas, it might be worth starting off with how we met. I think I first spotted a disused lightbox at Stollen Space and enquired who had made it. From there I was put in touch with you, and discovered some of your early work with lightboxes. Many people probably don’t know that for the first year of the lightbox at Goodhood it was a collaboration with you. Can you tell us what the work meant to you and why you produced it?
LP: I knew about the store, and shopped there; although we hadn’t been introduced at that point…I knew that Word To Mother was making your signage. And so when you asked me to make something along the same lines, it felt like a good fit, and a way to carry on with the lightbox idea. Up to that point I’d done some stuff like take these light boxes around London and photograph them in various places with different pieces of text on them, in the West end and round east London. The work was just either personal ramblings, or quotes. For Goodhood I wanted to try and choose quotes from other people that were related to work, as I thought there was something I liked about the store that was about hard work, industry and community. In the end it was a little more esoteric, and I remember you asking me to tone it down in fact as it was perhaps going off on too spaced out a tangent.
Above: Lightbox Project: Lucas Price for Goohood
GH: Can you tell us how the formation of A.Four came about, and the relationship it has to both London and Tokyo?
LP: I met Kazuki through a mutual friend, Gary Aspden. I’d just done some work for Adidas, and Kazuki was in town. He asked me to make some designs for Cash Ca and it kind of went from there. We talked and I just suggested trying to make something together…that was it, really simple. What it takes from London and Tokyo…it’s a feedback loop between the two, or an echo unit. I think about the designs that I love that have come out of Japan which take parts of UK or western culture, and what they do with that information. I try and do the same, in reverse.
GH: Can you explain how A.Four handles the relationship between art and commerce?
LP: We have to make things tick over, but so far it seems we can get away with doing what we want and not compromise too much.
GH: Can you let us know about A.Four’s approach to collaboration and the design process?
LP: Very fluid…we collaborate with people (Ryan Gander, Stone Roses, Fergadelic, Tim Head etc.), and then we have a core set of designers (myself and Kazuki). Everyone makes suggestions, and it gets condensed down into a small collection…very simple, very open.
GH: What are your influences when it comes to producing visuals for the A.Four brand?
LP: More and more it’s about something anti design, anti slickness…influences come from everywhere. I like non-design though, it resists somehow. Very basic, bad use of typography.
GH: What does the future hold in store for A.Four?
LP: I think we’re going to start making books over the next year, and continue to collaborate with designers. Something with Goodhood...?
Above: A.Four Garment Label Design
Above: One of the books from the Library
GH: It was a fantastic opportunity to come and visit your developing art space in Whitechapel, can you tell us a bit more about this?
LP: I have a council flat which I’ve just re purposed slightly so that I can make exhibitions there when I want. I’m going to have some kind of retail space there too. I was reading about Marcel Broodthaers a while ago, using his apartment as a museum and since then I’ve wanted to make something similar. So that’s going to be happening this year.
GH: Can you tell us about your background and how you walk the line between high and low art?
LP: My background is…I came to art quite late, late 20s. Didn’t go down a formal route at first, and went back to graffiti as a way into art, which worked in some ways…then I got bored and went to RCA to study on the painting MA. In between I set up A.Four with Kazuki San, and that whole time line I see as a kind of huge bachelor degree. I’m just about ok with some of the stuff I do. I don’t know about high and low. I just try to pay the rent and get better.
GH: (Perhaps this is represented in the library), Is there a particular criteria for selecting the titles in the library.. any favourites?
LP: All the books at my place right now are a random selection from the books I have in storage. So it’s all a election of stuff which is either visual reference or text based research material. The visual stuff is from all over the world, and usually fact based reference books on swimming pools or eye operations etc. I mostly look at the pictures these days. I can’t concentrate long enough to read a book any more.
GH: When do you hope to open?
LP: We’ll be opening later this year, we just have to work out a few things.
GH: Is there any artists you’d particularly like to host?
LP: I’d love to do something with Misha from P.A.M., and Sterling Ruby…I thought I might ask Oscar Tuazon to come and do a residency. I want Ryan to do something, and…I have a list of people I want to ask though.
Above: A selection of Lucas' collection of "empty" photographs
GH: We have recorded your collection of 'Empty' photographs as they look amazing, can you tell us what they are?
LP: I’ve been collecting photographs from Ebay for a few years. I collect different sets of images, based on description. For these I search for images that have the word empty in the search criteria. I don’t choose, I just buy a bunch at a time. It’s just a simple way to select images, I like how I don’t have to think about it. I think they’re all headed for a book at some point.
GH: Any shouts?
Goodhood, Dan Lewis, Tim Head. Ollie at BNTL, the guys at Doomsday. Little Ollie, Ren and Tokyo. KZK, Hitomi and all the Tokyo people. TNATKH.
Keep your eyes peeled for A.Four's SS14 Collection in store and online soon.