Interview with Ben Freeman and Deano Jo, Founders of Future Artefacts, East London

The inaugural Future Artefacts showcase event will take place this October in East London. Future Artefacts will bring to together the world’s most progressive music, arts publishing, fashion and tech companies to celebrate the media artefacts of the future. The three-day fair will be an opportunity for the public to purchase future artefacts from a variety of producers under one roof. A programme of innovative workshops related to art and music, and talks in conjunction with media partner Dazed will run at Future Artefacts, alongside a series of satellite events and club nights. A food stall run by Miranda alongside bars and a lounge area will provide the opportunity to socialise with the exhibitors and visitors alike.

In today’s digital world the need to produce media as physical objects has now been eclipsed by new technologies. The mission of Future Artefacts is to champion the production of physical manifestations of contemporary media – whether it be books, records, artwork or fashion – objects that can only exist in physical form and increase in value over time rather than being destined for landfill. Future Artefacts aims to provoke and influence the future of media, beyond what already exists. We speak to Future Artefacts founders Ben Freeman – owner of the publishing company Ditto Press, and Deano Jo – founder of the Real Gold brand and owner of Dalston bar The Alibi.

A: Was there a specific moment which inspired this project and highlighted the importance of the physical form in media production?
FA: We both have a background in music and arts publishing, so mostly this is a result of us witnessing trends and patterns. However, a couple of years ago we were in Rough Trade Records, and saw a rack of DIY synthesiser kits. That was a real moment of clarity as it seemed so obvious: of course, people don’t need CDs any more, but they love music and they love objects. This is where things are going to go in the future.

A: Why is it that you want to protect physical manifestations of media from the new, virtual world?
FA: We believe in progression, not sentimentality: the Darwinist effect of commerce and technology. Future Artefacts partly grew as a reaction to the fetishisation of craft with little justification other than nostalgia. We believe that far fewer objects will be produced in the future, and those that are will be of increasingly high quality. If we can have a hand in steering or influencing that trend, all the better.

A: What experience do you think can be gained from a physical item as opposed to say, an e-book?
FA: A physical book is different to an e-book, not necessarily better. They each have an appropriate time, place and function. Consumption is an experience which relies on all specifics, from volume and shape to colour and texture, digital included.

A: There is a definite revolutionary or countercultural element to your project. Do you see yourselves building on this tradition when it comes to media production?
FA: That countercultural or subcultural streak runs through what we do because of our personal tastes and interests. We’d love to provoke a culture that really questions the necessity of anything physical, cuts down on wastefulness in every sense, and encourages consumers to be a lot more demanding, aware and selective of what they consume. In a way we are harnessing what we perceive to be an existing trend, in another way we are willing it to happen.

A: Your collaborations with record labels associate big names with small independent publishers and artists. Is this important to you as a means of highlighting newer artists and promoting them in the same channels?
FA: Visitors to a Future Artefacts event will be able to spend from £5 up to £5000 and there will be a real consistency in quality of thinking, content and production; that has informed the participants we’ve chosen.

A: This is the first event of its kind. How do you see Future Artefacts developing into the future, and what plans have you got beyond 2015?
FA: We’d live to build on our philosophy of “if media is physical, it needs to be beautiful, otherwise make it digital” and see where that takes us. We’d very much like to see new forms and types of media develop that adequately reflect the world we live in.

Future Artefacts will be held at Shoreditch Studios, East London, from 23-25 October 2015. Entry is free.

For more information and opening times, visit

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1. Reify, Prototype totem. Courtesy of Reify NYC.