This year Alice Made This was featured in Tom Dixon’s Multiplex at the Old Selfridges Hotel as part of Clerkenwell London. While we were visiting the space, and admiring the refined curation of products on display, we met Golnar Roshan, one half of the London based design duo Rive.Roshan.
During their residency at Multiplex, Rive.Roshan experimented with UV pigments and capturing light, creating pocket squares and scarves by placing different objects onto fabric. Intrigued by the process, the Alice Made This team returned a few days later to create our own pocket squares using the geometric hardware from our new collection. To celebrate the arrival of our Lloyd belts and key rings, we speak to Golnar about the details behind the UV project and the duo’s wider inspirations.
“We met in Amsterdam,” Golnar tells me. “We worked really well together there and then we became a couple as well. I think having the two genders working together brings something interesting. We both look at things in different ways. Ruben is more technical and can make anything, whereas I’m more organic. It just comes together.”
Golnar Roshan and Ruben de la Rive Box formed Rive.Roshan after moving to London in 2012. By applying their graphic design and textile backgrounds, the duo began by creating a silk scarf and pocket square collection, driven by modern patterns and contemporary forms – a precursor to their work at Multiplex.
“I’ve always wanted to experiment with UV,” Golnar continues. “It’s something I’ve wanted to explore for a really long time. We just talked about it, but we never did it. When the opportunity came up to do Multiplex, Ruben suggested that we do the UV concept.”
By using UV sensitive pigments to paint cottons and silks, and placing solid objects between the light source and the fabric, the pigments darken under the rays leaving a dynamic and almost photographic effect on the material. The longer you leave the objects under the light, the darker the pigments become.
After the objects have been removed, you have to brush out the pigment, as well as washing the material, otherwise the pigments will continue to react with natural light and the pocket square will continue to evolve.
Excited by such an analogue and reactive process, we used our Lloyd buckles, as well as some of the other hardware from our Geometry collection, to create our very own Rive.Roshan pocket square. The result was a collection of bold and graphic silhouettes.
“We started experimenting in our court yard,” Golnar says. “We had to start experimenting with lots of light, including natural light. We’re still exploring it. The goal is to find a really strong UV beam so that the results on the fabric are instantaneous. Sunlight is actually stronger than the UV rays we use at the moment. If you did this in direct sunlight then it would only take around 10 minutes to create your patterns.”
“Our inspiration for this project really came from the way that graphics can translate across different materials and processes. It’s not that we’re working with manufacturers, but we’re working with processes that we aren’t familiar with. What happens if you break the light and capture it on fabric? How can we take something analogue and then process it in a digital space and use digital printing? Not only is this an experiment with light, but it’s also a theoretical study of colour. How does the red pigment blend into the navy and how does this change with different time frames, materials and projects? Every week we are working to develop our visual language.”
Rive.Roshan take traditional materials and combine them with contemporary techniques. They stray away from traditional prints and safe patterns, embracing the digital and evolving as projects twist and turn. They love tapestry and want to bring fabrics back into the home. As I watch how excited Golnar is about their experimentation, I wonder where this ambition and impulsive creativity comes from.
“My family are from Iran and Ruben is Dutch,” Golnar explains. “My family moved out of Iran after the revolution, but a couple of years ago I started to get really curious about my heritage and its history. I think Iranian culture has definitely influenced my whole textile passion. The things I’ve seen from my heritage are all about the rugs and the weaving so I have that nostalgic attachment to them.”
“They’re so different, but our cultures both share an appreciation for detailed craft. In Holland there is actually quite a big textile movement. If you look at a lot of the design that is coming out of Holland, it’s very fabric driven and of course you have the Flemish lace and beautiful paintings.”
“Iran has the rug and weaving history and, even though Ruben comes from the more Western side, the Dutch travelled the Silk Road a lot in the past and shared interests with Indian art and Iranian textiles. They were the ones who bought spice to Europe through their ports. Somehow we are both the same.”
“In fact it’s funny that we’re talking about this now while we’re experimenting with UV,” Golnar continues. “Rembrant and other Dutch paintings are all about light, clouds and beautiful skies. It’s all about the light and capturing the light. The light in Holland is really amazing because most of Holland is below sea level and I think the sky looks different there because of that, or at least that’s what they said to me when I lived there. It felt so close and the clouds felt so close and that’s how the paintings captured it.”
It’s wonderful to see two creatives from such different heritages utilise their skills so harmoniously. The rich, warm fabrics of Iran balance the intricate detail and craftsmanship of Dutch lace work. This project alone encompasses their partnership: the technical workings of the pigments, and the careful placement of objects, complimented by the deep reds, navys and oranges of the exposed pigments. Like Alice Made This, Rive.Roshan are working to take industrial processes and refine them into precise, honest objects.