A few years back, Wilhelm Finger, an Art Director in fashion, and Melita Skamnaki, a Creative Director in advertising, set up the London based curating agency: Double Decker.
It was born in difficult times, before the onset of a financial crisis and severe budget cuts for the arts and creative industries in the UK. Slowly but surely, however, Finger and Skamnaki have been making waves with their unique form of curating. The secret magic recipe it seems is a timeless narrative – a journey, an element of surprise, a vigorous, thoughtful, and intelligent approach to the content.
i-D online caught up with the dynamic duo to find out more, ahead of their curated evening tonight at the Design Museum (info below).
How was Double Decker born? It was born where curating should be born: out of a University and a Museum. After a decade of work in the creative industries both of us took a break and followed the Kingston University in conjunction with the Design Museum Curating Contemporary Design MA course. We started working on projects together and decided to set up Double Decker in the curating of our own projects.
How would you describe your own process of curating? Our process of curating an exhibition is similar to the one of a film director. We need to have a story in mind that we want to tell. We walk around the set in our minds again and again. We find our protagonists – but ours are the exhibits. We create imaginary dialogues – but in our case dialogues are between the exhibits. We come up with a logical flow between the exhibits, just as it moves from scene to scene in a movie. We also need to make sure that what we say is interesting and most of all intriguing. Curators, like film directors, should allow people to have their own interpretation of the exhibition.
Do you aim to engage the audience directly with the process, or is an element of surprise important in your projects? There have been experiments in exhibitions in which the audience has been engaged during the stages of preparation. However, we prefer to keep an element of surprise. In some cases the audience may know the core idea beforehand, and its contents will only be revealed at the opening. An element of surprise is crucial in the process of engaging audiences. That is where the story begins.
How do you adapt to working in different countries, with different audiences, languages, rituals and art scenes? We keep our eyes open. London gives us a great foundation. Our team is multinational: German, Greek, British, Turkish and Brazilian. Working in a diverse environment on a daily basis enables us to switch all the time, seeing things from many different angles. The rest is a matter of experience. Regarding the art scene, every project leads us to investigate and scout new people. We have links in many places in the world. It became a natural process of constantly widening our pool of contacts wherever we may be.
What are you working on at the moment? We are working on a great exhibition concept for the London Design Festival. We are also presenting a wraparound programme for the upcoming Christian Louboutin exhibition at the Design Museum. In addition to that we have been working on a number of hotel projects, and a very exciting new venture that will be launched soon. It’s something that we are proud of developing and therefore a bit of a secret. It shall all be revealed shortly. Stay tuned.
Who are your inspirations and creative heroes? Our inspiration comes from young artists, designers and photographers with potential that we discover everyday. We are also very inspired by the Bauhaus movement; its structure, spirit, innovation and influence. It’s an on-going creative fuel. As curators we don’t have creative heroes as such. It’s more along the lines of dealing with different creative heroes in every exhibition.
Doubledecker present an evening of music, film and visual spectacle entitled WALK INTO ILLUSION, a wraparound project as part of the Christian Louboutin exhibition tonight at the Design Museum, London. Friday 18th May, 8 – 11pm.
Text and Interview: Joe Cohen
Photos by: Michael Mann