The Artistic Universe of Campbell-Rey
Embark on a journey into the artistic universe of Campbell-Rey, where design, history, and a passion for the exquisite converge. The genesis of this dynamic duo, Duncan Campbell and Charlotte Rey, traces back to their formative years at Acne Studios’ Acne Paper, a biannual publication that ignited their shared fascination with art, architecture, and the allure of craftsmanship. United by a desire to explore their aesthetic and storytelling potential, they founded Campbell-Rey, evolving from creative and art direction to an expansive art and design atelier.
As we delve into the Q&A, discover the narratives, inspirations, and favorite pieces that shape the design ethos of Campbell-Rey, the visionary duo behind our new collection of colorful rugs.
Can you delve deeper into the genesis of Campbell-Rey? What motivated the partnership, and how has the journey evolved since its inception?
CR: We met when we worked side by side at Acne Studios’ biannual publication Acne Paper during our university years – the magazine introduced us to a world of art and artists, architecture, history, photography, interiors, great hosts and hostesses, craftspeople, exotic destinations and personalities – it was a wonderful world that created a stepping stone for us to explore our own aesthetic and universe. After setting up Campbell-Rey, we explored this through creative direction and art direction projects for brands in the legacy and craftsmanship industries and with time we were asked to take on art and design assignments which has now evolved to an art and design atelier. We work across a wide range – from historical renovations of residential houses, to architecturally inspired artworks, to interiors, to design objects and furniture collections – because of our background, research and storytelling are intrinsic to our work.
Beyond the design world, what personal experiences or aspects of everyday life inspire your creative process?
CR: All of it – we are both avid collectors and travelers. We are constantly seeking out new things to look at, see, feel, experience, obtain – it’s a bit of an obsession but I think our job is more a calling than a 9-5 so we couldn’t not.
We’re curious about your current projects. Do you have a sneak peek into what’s on the Campbell-Rey drawing board or underway?
CR: Apart from our new Nordic Knots rug collection, which we are very excited about, we are working on a 12 piece furniture collection for The Lacquer Company and a lighting collection for Carwan Gallery in Athens. We are also working on residential projects in Greece, Italy and France as well as our first commercial project, the legendary nightclub Tramp in London’s St James’s.
Color plays a significant role in your designs. Can you shed light on the inspiration behind the new colors in your collection and how they contribute to the overall aesthetic?
CR: We are always drawn to great colors – delicious colorways that evokes emotion and that draws you in to touch. We used the color palette of Copenhagen’s Thorvaldsen’s Museum as a starting point for these newly imagined rugs as both of us, like him, are from Northern Europe but great admirers of Italy and its warm saturated hues. Thorvaldsen was a Neoclassical Danish sculptor in marble and plaster, the only non-Catholic artist to ever work in the Vatican, and in the 19th century he was very celebrated due to his craft and often compared to Canova. Towards the end of his life, upon his return to Copenhagen, he was given land next to one of the royal palaces to erect his own museum to display his life’s work. The resulting design was a historical mash-up of Greek and Roman classical architecture with Egyptian and Pompeiian motifs with unique ceilings in each room in the grotesque style – giving for an enthusiastic gesamtkunstwerk. As we are both historical art and architecture buffs, and we love color – we were drawn to the interiors of the building but also felt a creative affinity for Thorvaldsen as an artist.
Do you have a favorite object/design piece? Something that resonates with you on a deeper level or has a memorable story attached?
CR: I think when you create works, you learn quickly that there is no such thing as a wholly original or new idea. You owe so much to so many before you so there nothing is never fully yours, and you never own anything. So in that manner, we have many favorite pieces and they all mean so much but in different ways. Also tastes shift, something I really didn’t like last year might be my favorite thing today.
For aspiring designers, what advice would you offer based on your own experiences and challenges faced in the industry?
CR: Fully explore your creative side and learn your likes and dislikes to the best of your ability – then also understand that design is a business.
Among the Nordic Knots x Campbell-Rey rugs, do you have a favorite? How would you personally use or style it within a space?
CR: You can’t ask us to choose our favorite child! (laughter) We love them all equally but for different reasons – Climbing Vine is a softer design as it’s more floral, while Folding Ribbon is stronger and more profiled. Garden Maze gives depth and movement to a room because of its pattern. We love all the colors equally as they are warm and welcoming to make every room feel inviting, comfortable and sophisticated.
The collection was photographed at Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen by photographer Robbie Lawrence.