Louisa Pacifico founded Future Icons in 2017, previosuly having been the CEO of Craft Central, and leading sales teams for both New Designers and Clerkenwell Design week. She studied 3D Design for production at Brighton University.
Future Icons represents a select collection of Design and craft led businesses, with a fast-growing reputation for high-quality creative talent we thought it was time to catch up with the adorable and eternally passionate Lousia to tell us more.
Tell us more about you and how Future Icons came about?
I have always had a passion for objects and artworks from a young age, this probably stems from my mother taking me to antique fairs monthly as I grew up. Following my graduate degree in 3D Design for production from Brighton University, I dedicated my professional career for 11 years to heading sales teams at significant design events, most notably; New Designers and Clerkenwell Design Week.
In 2015 and after 5 very successful CDW's, I was invited to apply for the Chief Executive role at Craft Central, a charity that offered 76 affordable studio spaces in two locations in central Clerkenwell. Here I had the pleasure of meeting master craftspeople across many disciplines and consequently learned and grew a deeper appreciation for these historical crafts.
Following the board's decision to relocate Craft Central to Mudchute, I felt this was the perfect time to set up a business of my own where I could combine my corporate skills and network to focus on supporting selected mid-career craft and Design-led businesses. In 2017, I launched Future Icons and have never looked back.
You represent a select collection of Design and craft led businesses, how does this collaborative process works?
When I launched Future Icons, I noticed a lack of support for mid-career craft and Design-led businesses. There has always been a lot of support for emerging brands, but brands that already have a fully equipped studio in place and a client base looking to upscale or change direction had little resources to refer too.
With this in mind, I first reached out to makers and designers I knew throughout my career and invited them to join for a discounted fee in year one as the concept of a hybrid consultancy and non-exclusive agency took shape.
With regard to accepting new members, the first aspect I look for is a passion for their craft. You can quickly see through the making skills and originality of our member collections that passion for their discipline is at the core of their businesses.
Businesses are welcome to apply for membership; however, clients must meet at least one criteria: Educated to an MA level, collections in museums/ prestigious retailers, or if they have won awards. If they have not met any of these criteria, then potential members are welcome to pitch to me.
I also look at collections and ask myself, 'would I have this in my home?'. I believe that if I aim to pitch and sell collections for my members, I must genuinely love the collections. This is then backed up with provenance they have provided me within their application. Both of these points significantly help me to 'sell my members' for new commercial or private projects.
Following this process, I meet suitable applicants to view works and, most importantly, discuss if we have the ability to work with each other. I have very personal relationships with each and every business; therefore, mutual trust and respect must be in place for membership to be granted.
What's been the highlight in collaborating in this way? Have you learned anything new?
I'm still a firm believer that live events are the best way to show works to new audiences. After the first couple of events I produced at our sister gallery 67 York Street, my members developed faith in my curating skills. A personal highlight for me is having built up their trust in me to display and represent their collections as a collective with and without them being present.
I was particularly proud of the curation at the inaugural 'The Future of Craft' for London Craft Week 2019. It was the first time I could show 17 large scale projects together as one collective. I refer back to my comment of 'would I have this in my home?' as the collections I represent are an extension of my taste, so in my mind, they all sit very well together.
As my members grew in numbers, I have had to learn quickly to be firm yet fair with my event production and curation plans. With limited space, time, and resources, I've had to take the confidence I have built up from previous showcases and assure new members this is the best way to work as a collective.
You're very committed and passionate about supporting both local and international makers and designers. Tell us about this?
I knew for some years, I wanted to launch my own business but lacked the confidence to do so. While at Craft Central, I looked at the 76+ solo business operators, and although many creatives suffer from levels of anxiety, I marveled at their passion and belief within their craft to run their own business/ life.
Therefore, when I decided to launch, I felt it was only right to place as much passion as dedication into my own business as my members do on their own. With regard to local and international designers, I pride myself on not discriminating on location, age, sex, etc. – if the work is strong and they are wonderful people, then I'm happy to represent them wherever they are in the world.
Looking through the beautiful collection of makers and designers that you represent, as you would expect we love the varied use of materials, is there a new material or a way of using existing materials that have inspired you recently?
I invited Janine Partington to join Future Icons following her showcase at New Designer's 'One Year In' in 2019. At first glance, you would mistake Janine's works to be coloured linocut artworks. When you look closer, you discover they are all actually carved leather pieces. Such a simple marriage of an historical craft skill with a material that has been applied for thousands of years. Love it!
We are excited about the growing number of bio-based materials and products that are now emerging, have you got any plans underway to feature some of these inspirational materials or products?
Of course! I'm always looking out for new makers who work with new materials. I currently privately consult a craft-based duo who are developing a new bio-based material to create one-off artworks with. This is still in development at the moment; however, I hope to show them in the next year or two once the collection is refined.
Many of my existing clients are always looking to introduce new materials into their works too, I'm encouraging this during the current downtime period (Covid-19), which is giving them a chance to experiment with new processes.
We won't ask you to pick a favourite product (How could we!), but what is it that has really caught your eye of late? Material, display, process, colour….
I'm going to have to say, Elizabeth Ashdown, who you recently interviewed. Elizabeth is one of only 5 passementerie weavers in the UK, and she is pushing this historical craft of creating 'lace edging' by developing them into large scale artworks.
I crave colour and every time Elizabeth pops round to my home to show me the latest experiments, I'm blown away by her bold colour choices. She recently combined white, yellow, green, pink, and copper together. Never in a million years would I put this pallet together, but when you how she delicately interweaves these colour threads into an artwork – it just works.
Finally, what are you looking forward to? Do you have any particular ambitions or new plans on the horizon?
Firstly, I simply cannot wait to co-produce The Future of Craft 2020. I'm a key collaborator alongside Design-Nation for Oxo Tower Wharf on this show. I, therefore, invest heavily in ample space to showcase Future Icons' collections during this London Craft Week show. This has currently been postponed due to Covid-19; however, we are hoping to produce it later in the year.
Secondly, a core ambition of mine is to connect with more luxury interior design practices and introduce them to my member skillsets for bespoke commissions. Although I already work with a number of these businesses, there are many more who rely on larger companies who often outsource their designs rather than create the works themselves.
Discover more about Future Icons.