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We talk W/ Achilles Ion Gabriel about his pink invasion at Camper Madrid

Achilles Ion Gabriel meets us at Camper Serrano to tell us all about the pink installation on the occasion of the ARCO International Fair.

Achilles Ion Gabriel arrives in Madrid to take over Camper’s Serrano store with a new look on the occasion of the ARCO Fair. A layer of pink vinyl covers, almost entirely and temporarily, the double height of the store, in honor of the main color of the collection CAMPERLAB SS23. You know: “Think Pink”.

“It’s not because of anything in particular, I just like pink. Pink is super chic, but at the same time it’s super tacky, off-putting, disgusting. It’s probably the only color that gives me those feelings. It can be high-fashion and 90s Paris Hilton at the same time. It’s the opposite of natural, like play-doo”, Achilles jokes. The designer is one of those born provocateurs -always on good terms-. He loves black, extreme humor. He probably finds laughter in things that no one else could. And it’s his way of seeing the world. A way of seeing the world that he shares with Camper, whose philosophy is to always have fun.

The designer had always wanted to do something on the occasion of ARCO Fair, but didn’t know how to. “I wanted to do something at ARCO but I didn’t know to what extent we should do something related to art so I thought that, since we are a commercial brand, we could do something in the store” he says. Later, by accident, he came across the vinyl texture that now fills the Madrid store and got down to work. Just a week before seeing the store taken over by pink, Achilles also had the idea to include something disruptive. This would add a little more interest to the concept. “I called Mateusz Von Motz to paint the windows as graffiti. I’ve liked his work for a while and thought it would be a good idea to include it in the proposal. It’s something disruptive and from the outside it can look like pure vandalism but it’s actually an artistic piece.” And so it has been. The windows read the mantra “Fuck normal I want magic” by the German-Polish artist.

Achilles is a great lover of art, and, as with humor, he has a very particular way of enjoying and admiring it. Surely growing up in an artistic environment has allowed him to develop in a different way. “My mother is a sculptor and I grew up next to a graveyard, I think that’s why I have such a black sense of humor,” he jokes. Laughing, but taking it very seriously, he confesses that he likes to act as a loudspeaker for those artists who are not well known but who he believes truly have something to offer. “I like things that are usually overlooked,” he says as he shows me Anne Truitt’s ‘In the Tower’. Looking at it, I understand what he means, and interestingly, with Camper’s designs it’s a bit of the same thing. “From a distance it may look like a simple boot but when you get closer you see that the sole is made in an irregular shape, as if it were cement or concrete. If he had to be a Camper shoe, he would be this one”, explains.

Achilles has taken Camper to another level; the brand is now at the forefront of design in an unprecedented way. Much of the credit goes to him, no doubt about it. “I used to not believe it so much but now I’m convinced that I’m doing a good job. We Finns are very modest in that sense, but as time has gone by and more people talk about my work the more convinced I am,” he admits. The designer moved to Mallorca shortly after being named Camper’s creative director. Thus, he is closer to the brand’s headquarters and has the peace of mind he doesn’t have when he travels around the world for work. “I love going places, but I hate the actual traveling part. Half the time I’m traveling so when I get to Mallorca I’m literally in the middle of nowhere. It’s a glass house in the middle of nowhere. If someone came to kill me no one would know,” he says with a laugh.

The Finnish designer takes his work very seriously. Normally, he never creates at his home in Mallorca, but travels to Camper’s headquarters. That way he is close to the team. In his creative process, he attaches the same importance to the creative part as to the usability of the product (maybe that’s why there is no uncomfortable Camper shoe). “I believe that there is no part more important than the other, it is a process in which at each stage you have to give 100%. When you start with the moodboards that’s the important part and when you get to the design and usability part, you have to fix all your senses and work on that goal,” he says.

Achilles stays a few days in Madrid, before going to Milan and Paris, to enjoy ARCO & URVNT. Also, why not, to see what the Madrid nightlife has to offer. The HIGHXTAR. team joined the designer, and had the pleasure of enjoying a fun evening with the Camper family and friends. The Penthouse by WOW hosted numerous well-known industry profiles such as Samantha Hudson, Alejandro Gómez Palomo, Alicia Padrón, Anna Castillo, Greta Fernández, Curro Verdugo, Fernando Valdivielso, Evangelina Julia, Rocío Aguirre, Amanda Portillo and Alex Turrión, among many others.

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