Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith; Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence; Gilbert and George. Creative couples have produced some of the world’s most influential artistic work, drawing out the strengths and brilliance in each other’s talents. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, we’re exploring the place where romance, collaboration and imagination meet by profiling four creative couples.
Kerr Mcilwraith and Desislava Todorova are freelance creatives who collaborate on projects in the realm of fine art and fashion. Living and working from their studio, it’s clear how much they enjoy and thrive off each other’s company. Whether discussing their collaborative work or each other, the pair are brimming with upbeat energy and contagious enthusiasm. Their space reflects their idiosyncratic yet refined taste, and it’s here that we meet to chat about their life and work as partners — in every sense of the word.
How did you meet?
We met initially in 2016 before I was moving to Stockholm for work, Desi was to take over my role in London, so we had around a week of getting to know each other. About 18 months after this, I returned to London, we were both now in different situations and realised how much we had in common – and now here we are!
When did you start working together?
Almost straight away! We are both so buzzing with ideas that our general chit-chat tends to result in ideas! A few of our first projects were travel-based editorials for Teeth Mag, as well as a London Fashion Week event for the renewable brand, Altiir.
Tell us about the work you do together.
It varies widely, from the art market to fashion trend forecasting. Desi has an academic background in Fashion Communications, while I studied Art Market Appraisal – so almost everything is marketing and communications focused, for fashion brands, galleries, art organisations or standalone events.
What’s the most special part of working alongside your significant other?
The honesty, and the teamwork.
Are there challenging elements to working with your partner?
I’d say we both have very different working styles, I like to blare music out and work sporadically (lots of coffee breaks) whereas Desi is much more concentrated and focused on the task at hand.
Which of your achievements has been the most fun to share and celebrate together?
We both work closely with a dear friend of ours who is an incredible designer, Roman Serra. He and Desi have been friends for years and years in London, and she has been alongside him as he grows as a designer – we both do as much as we can to promote, and support him with his work. Most recently Desi modelled for some of his new earrings, and last year I helped out with the campaign shoot for his debut collection.
How do you find a balance between a romantic relationship and business? Do you have any rules when it comes to how you divide your time or what you talk about outside of work hours?
For a large portion of time, we both work remotely on the same projects that don’t restrict us to a confined space for too long! Usually, the workday ends when one of us (usually me) gets hungry.
What is your number one piece of advice for collaborating with someone you love?
Reward yourselves (and each other!) after a long and often stressful week a small treat can sometimes be the most rewarding return; whether that be morning coffee & pastry, flowers (or burgers…)
What exciting things do you have coming up in 2020?
We are super excited to be welcoming a range of international artists to our studio over the coming year, for intimate exhibitions showcasing a variety of emerging talents in an assortment of mediums: from painting to photography, augmented reality to sculpture! We will be kicking off this March with a solo show by Folkestone based painter, Constance MacQueen!