Most people companies or initiatives are about finding or realizing a goal, whether it is about making money or about making the best music, literature, art, etcetera. Most people try to find their lane and be the best they can be at that thing. A good amount of motivational speaking talks about this topic but what happens when you become known for this one thing? Typecasting can be a great enemy of creativity, blocking the person from making otherwise simple creative decisions. Creating, establishing and sustaining an image is not an easy thing and it can be a rewarding thing, as well, but a once proven formula is not always timeless and if we look at people like David Bowie and their chameleon-esque skill to blend in with the times itself created new momentum and sustained their relevance. Marcel Duchamp once said: A work of art has a lifespan of about 20 years; Pontus Alv said: A skate company only has 10. But what if you change the rules and take away the “normal” pillars on which a skate company builds its image and just leave change as the only constant? That is what FLVR SERIES is doing. For them, change is both their modus operandi, their image and their medium.
A gallery showing different FLVR Collective exhibitions.
As soon as I walk through the door of the Berlin FLVR office I feel at home, Xavier welcomes me and offers me some tea. I look around, the place looks more like an artist studio than I would have expected. On the wall a board based on parts of a Giorgio de Chirico painting catches my eye, I love de Chirico! Xavier notices my excitement and starts talking to me about the project and its goals, I say „project” because the more he tells me the less I think of FLVR as a group of people that make products and the more I think of FLVR as a project, an action or a canvas on which ideas can be taken from. “FLVR in itself means nothing”, Xavier explains: “It is just a random collection of letters that we felt looked good together. Some people think it stands for flavor but it doesn’t and it shouldn’t. We don’t want to be pigeonholed. We want to be able to be new every time. We produce series of boards and we invite an artist to work with us and take on the FLVR project. When somebody chooses to work with us they are free to change as much as they want, the logo, our look, our feel and of course the product itself.” His explanation reminds me of New Deal where riders like Ed Templeton did their own ads and graphics the difference being that FLVR does not use the word team. They have affiliates that they support, they in turn skate and feature in the many different projects that they make. “We want everybody to be able to take part in the different versions of FLVR. If we like your skating we want to be free to feature your skating, everybody can contribute.”
I ask Xavier if he works with artists that skate, “We like artists that skate but we also think that fresh eyes can lead to new ideas and images”.
Just a couple of the many different styles of FLVR.
In our latest project Fougère, we tried to something interdisciplinary working with and combining different people that work with video, music, art and they combined skateboarding with drawing. The pictures Clement Chouleur took were given to artists and they created their drawings based on those pictures.
We like diversity, we don’t only sell to skate shops but also to stores that are geared more towards art and lifestyle.
One artist named Benjamin Artola based a collection on Jorge Campos a goalie that designed his own jerseys that he would wear during a match. A board which I am skating myself and the graphic gets a lot of looks and reactions, it is definitely different from many other logo driven boards out there. FLVR is not safe, what I mean by that is that they take risks. If you like the current Fougère version of the brand it doesn’t mean you will like the version before or the version after that. To us, that attitude is refreshing today’s world where products need to be moved targets need to be met and money needs to be made. Xavier tells me that Fougère is the first project that was completed that means that all plans were realized with two videos, two exhibitions, live performance, an analysis of skateboarding through different chapters and perspectives, a board, multiple booklets, interventions and even some special clothing. None of these stand alone but they all click together to make Fougère. After all this, is explained to me I ask Xavier what is next, he laughs and says I have no idea!
Some photos taken from the Fougère book.
FLVR SERIES is a project run by Xavier Staal, Youri Fernandez, and Paul Bizcarguenaga.