Behind the scenes of every great shoot, event or product is a team of creative masterminds. They're there from concept to fruition and while you might not know their name, it's likely you'll instantly recognise their work. Laura Clauscen and Lauren Stephens are the intuitive and talented duo who make up Practise Studio Practise. Joining forces just over a year ago they have so far directed shoots for Verner, created one-off pieces of furniture, hosted innovative dinner parties with Lucky Prawn, directed films and that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of their ever growing repertoire. We spoke to Laura Clauscen and Lauren Stephens to find some more insight into their unique, multidisciplinary work.
Verner Lookbook shot by Nadeemy Betros
How would explain Practise Studio Practise?
Laura: More than anything it's about two individuals coming together and forming a partnership rather than being specialists in one particular field. It's why we came together because we're not specialists or particularly trained in one specific field. It's two brains…with a similar amount of bizarreness and like aesthetic sensibilities.
Lauren: Desperate to explore different fields through the processes of ritual, material and cultural practice. I think every project we work on is born from a preoccupation with an object or experience as opposed to working within the confines of a specific field ...'graphic design or building a set.'
How do you decide which projects to take on?
Laura: I think we've been lucky because each little project we complete seems to flow onto the next. We are often so busy with our day jobs, it can be hard to find the time to reach out to people we want to collaborate with, but great opportunities seem to have fallen in place.
Lauren: It's actually really personal because we work projects with people that we really connect with. It's not marketing based, it's just our take on what whoever we're working with is about.
Otis Armada shot Harry Scott
I think that's where your strengths lie and where you get your original flare from - you don't look at what's already been done.
Laura: Sometimes it can be a blessing - not to have the time to do that.
Lauren: We're briefing each other via text message saying, 'This thing, this thing, this thing!' But then the good thing about it is that we have this really strong, deep instinct and if we get a particular project that we're really passionate about, the first thing that comes to us is usually the strongest. Actually we feel really good about that, it's working, it's got meat to it and we just run with it.
Laura: So much of what we do is a first for us. So not only do we make a decision but then we have to learn how to do it and that's the honest truth. That's probably why we love what we do because we learn something every time.
You guys and your business are so young. When did you begin Practise Studio Practise?
Lauren: Just over a year ago. It's interesting, we had a meeting with the head visual merchandiser of Aesop last week and she was basically just talking to us about how she comes from a Industrial Design background and she was basically saying that no one Aesop is hired for the position they have studied in. They enjoy that fresh take on whatever the job is. I feel like that's what we are trying to do everyday.
Upcoming film Moving Image ft. Peanuts
I think that's what you do best, using all the different things that you've learnt.
Lauren: We've actually been pretty lucky. Like when we go to Japan soon we're meeting up with a few people from an amazing object design company called Puebco. We used their aprons for Otis Armada. We also used one of their toilet brushes for an article in Ladies of Leisure. They've been so amazing and so interested in what we're doing back in Melbourne. We basically said let's meet up and try and work on a small project when we're there. I think we've been really lucky with the people we've connected with.
What is the plan for Japan?
Laura: The overall plan for Japan is to refresh, explore and learn. Maybe doing a few courses - Ikebana...
Lauren: Workshops. Ceramics. I really want to do a course in traditional Japanese. Laura knows what it's a called.
Laura: Furoshiki ? There are so many things.
Lauren: There's so many little things we want to do that will give us a fresh perspective.
So creative processes that don't necessarily exist in Melbourne?
Laura: Yeah, learning it in Japan with someone who's done it for 50-60 years. We applied to do a residency in Tokyo but we didn't really do much research into it and didn't realise how prestigious it was. That process was great though because it was such a good exercise for the brain. It made us think hey, what would we create? We'd do Waterproof kimono, edible ikebana, tatami matts but really brightly coloured. All this spacial experiential stuff. There's not a lot patience in this generation but I think it's because we're just interested in learning, jamming it all in and trying to test everything.
We're the generation who thinks we can do it all.
Lauren: II also think that to survive as a new business you do need to be multidisciplinary. Industries are going up and down like there's no tomorrow. It can be challenging.
Laura: Again, it's learning skills and learning to apply them to different contexts.
What's your plan for 2015?
Laura: I've been thinking about moving away… and about, 'what's going on here, what can we do, what can't we do?' But It's just that age and that fork in the road. But I've also been hit over the head with how lucky we are to be based in Melbourne. It's so supportive. We're able to work with the people we want to work with - internationally as well as locally. Maybe we need to…
Lauren: ...Quit all of our other jobs!
Laura: Exactly, we need to sit down and fob off everything else. We're going to see what 2015 brings and how it pans out.
Lauren: Bring it!
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Text Savannah Anand-Sobti