Set designer Janina Pedan discusses Ukranian toads and litter in a reflection on her story in AnOther Magazine S/S15
For Katie Shillingford and Ben Toms' story in AnOther Magazine S/S15, set designer Janina Pedan had an unusual challenge. Rather than using a running theme or consistent set, "we wanted every image to be completely different", she says, and the result is a story that blends the ordinary with the unexpected for an incredible series of still lives. One of its standout moments is this combination of Anya Hindmarch's iconic Crisp Packet clutch bag with two giant toads. Speaking about her inspirations for the story, Pedan explained, "I imagined what I think of when I land at Heathrow – there’s the toads and then the crisp packets blowing in the wind. It’s sort of a romantic image of the British landscape."
She continues, "for me, toads are a little bit like a sacred animal. They are considered ugly and somehow disgusting but I find them really fascinating, especially because of their size. One of my earliest memories is going with my dad to a toad show in Ukraine. I don't know if it's because I was a child at the time but they seemed so huge, and I remember him lifting me up to see all of these different species, all giant and in different colours, and being totally amazed. The toads that we used came from an animal handler that I use quite often. He's really amazing, he provided the toads for Harry Potter and he treats them like his little babies. He talks to them and they make these weird gurgling sounds, and he showed us this trick where he hypnotises them and holds them upside down. Pairing them with the crisp packets made a pretty image, but it also played with the relationship between the mundane and the precious."
Anya Hindmarch's Crisp Packet clutch utilises exactly this interplay, transforming an everyday object into something exquisite, to be treasured. Literally modelled on a packet of Salt & Vinegar Walker's Crisps (which was photographed from every angle for a precise 3D rendering), each piece is moulded, spray-painted and hand-varnished by specialist artisans. As Pedan explains, "when I walk down the street if I see something glistening, it doesn’t matter if it’s just a wrapper or something, I’m like, 'oh! Precious!'" – and it is through exploiting our magpie inclinations and subverting what we consider valuable that Hindmarch has created something so special. The humble crisp packet – ordinarily reserved for display on corner shop shelves or within littering campaigns – is transformed into a shimmering piece of luxury fashion that unites the quintessential Britishness of a packet of Walker's with one of our greatest accessories designers.