Interview with Anya Oderyakova and Olya Korsun, Directors of Synesthesia

Synesthesia is a combination of interactive digital innovation and timeless fashion. Teaming up with Fred Perry for the Spring/Summer 2014 campaign, the website is an exploration of the phenomena of synesthesia, when one sensory response induces a sensation in another. The product of Olya Korsun, Anya Oderyakova and Poon Sap’s creative thinking, the team intend to both entertain and educate visitors to the website. We speak to Fashion Director, Anya Oderyakova, and Art Director, Olya Korsun, about the initiation of the project and how to match colours with sounds.

A: What is the idea behind your Synesthesia website?
First of all, we wanted to explore this fascinating physical condition called synesthesia, when a person can hear colours or see sounds. Fashion projects rarely involve scientific research and often only play around with aesthetics and allusions to different epochs and trends. We decided to refer, not to a particular trend, but to a scientific phenomenon. We had a tough time trying to figure out how to connect our findings on synesthesia with the actual website. We really had to invent a way to connect our colors and sounds, which is not easy at all, because synesthesia is something completely subjective and experienced by every person in a different way. But, in the end, the result was so rewarding. We also had the idea of making something unconventional, to surprise the viewer and to entertain. Thus, there was a lot of work on the side of programming too. To cut a long story short, the idea behind the project was to find an amusing fact of reality and show it though the prism of fashion using a bit of coding magic.

A: How do the snippets of music relate to the clothes?
As I have already mentioned the musical aspect of the project appeared to be quite challenging. The final decision was to prescribe every colour a separate music instrument. So, when you hover the mouse over a piece of clothing in a certain colour, you always hear a particular instrument, for example, red sounds like a drum. We never wanted to be really scientific and spend our time calculating the sound wave length to correlate it with colour wave length, although that’s what many scientists do. We wanted to play around, so we just dropped into the studio of our friend Syd Kemp and discussed what instruments he associated with this “mod meets rock n roll” mood of Fred Perry, and he instantly came up with the set of instruments we now have on the website. A viewer also has a chance to listen to the whole outfit, for example, how your trousers “sound” with your polo. The viewer just has to hover over a note score and hear the whole tune. It has a bit of irony to it, because the initial idea was to say to some people: “Hey, are you aware of how ‘noisy’ you look, dude?”

A: Who wrote the music and was it written in response to the images?
The music is composed by our dear friend and talented musician Syd Kemp. We gathered in his East London studio to discuss the way the instruments could represent the images we had. On the website you can hear a piece of music when you click on the image, but then the music changes when you hover over different colours, that is because you hear the sound stripped down to the music produced by separate instruments. We wanted to make it playful and that’s why we gave each colour its instrument. We were also thinking about the colours and the ways they can be represented by sound, we’d give lighter colours some lighter sounds, for instance. Syd came up with his own ideas for the music after we chose which colour would be given this or that instrument. It really is amazing because we collaborated with Fred Perry and we think rock’n’roll is something the brand generally associates with these days. We think for someone who loves the brand and music this is a nice way to be entertained.

A: What do you want the viewer to take from the project?
We want the audience to not only play around, although that’s a core component to the interactive aspect of the idea, but to also become fascinated by the amazing phenomenon called “synesthesia”. We want to entertain and educate our user at the same time. Also, we want to widen up the possibilities of interactive web-campaigns and inspire brands to think wider. We hope to continue building unusual projects like this in the future, as we feel that sites like this one can offer new opportunities for creatives and brands.

A: How did you put the project together? How involved were Fred Perry?
It all started as an experimental collaborative project. Everyone in our team has a different background and we wanted to grow in terms of our creative thinking and test our skills by taking on new responsibilities. During this time I was working as both a stylist and a producer. It was relatively easy to pull the team together, probably because there are so many talented people around us, and in London in general. We considered a lot of different brands, and a lot of big names were interested, however, we went with Fred Perry because we all agreed that music is part of the brand’s DNA. It just felt right to work with them, they’re perfect. They loved the idea and collaborated with us closely on each stage of the production in order to make this project happen.

Visit the Synesthesia site:

1. Image courtesy of Fred Perry and Synesthesia.