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12 Apr 2019

Photos by Chris Labrooy

Parallel Universe – the surreal world of Chris Labrooy

Catching up with digital designer and Porsche fanatic Chris Labrooy

Please do not adjust your set, viewers. You’ve entered the surreal world of digital designer Chris Labrooy, where preconceptions are sabotaged and 911s veer into uncharted territory. This digital distortion is a labour of love that combines Chris’s passion for cars – Porsches in particular – with creating unique, impactful images for the likes of Apple, Nike, Jaguar and, naturally, Stuttgart’s finest.
Having studied product design at the Royal College of Art, Chris started utilising 3D modelling technology to create architectural visualisations, typography and lettering. From there, a pastime foray utilising the technology in a more creative direction took off, leading towards automotive manipulations.
“Being an artist you are always looking for subject matter, so it was natural to gravitate towards cars,” says Chris. “The business element found me. I was approached after my work was seen online. Companies asked whether I could produce work for them – one job led to another and so on.”
Growing up, Chris had a passion for Ferraris. “The Berlinetta 355, 360, 430 – that model lineage really caught my imagination.” However, seeing the error of his ways, Chris’s first venture into sports car ownership came via a Cayman.

The Carrera RS imagery featured in Chris’s series entitled 911 came about after he created a Californian Palm Springs-esque backdrop, celebrating a part of the world that he finds particularly inspiring.
“It feels like it’s stuck in the past,” says Chris. “The design of the houses has this retro, mid-century feel. They’re all beautifully preserved and the people who own them tend to drive old cars. It’s a slice of that old Americana lifestyle.”

The process behind the Porsches in a swimming pool image was, in Chris’s words: “Taking a dumb idea and making it beautiful. It just developed from the set design.
I’ve got this 911, what can I do with it? I originally had one on the roof, then I thought about sticking it in the swimming pool. And while I’m there, let’s make it 12. It’s about exploring the environment.”

The image of the Carrera leaning up against the side of a house is a particular favourite. “The corridor produces a great contrast of strong sunlight and dark shadows.” For the 964 images, which were partly inspired by the iconic Paul Smith stripes, Chris consulted the Porsche colour catalogue.

“Once I’ve created the model and the environment, the process is almost like that of a studio photographer,” he explains. “I did 40 versions of paint combinations, looking at the shapes and angles. You may want to draw attention to a certain part of the car, so you need to experiment to get the required result.”
Now Chris’s motoring preference has switched from Italy to Germany, is he here to stay? “When I took delivery of the Cayman I remember the service manager saying: ‘You’re probably going to be a customer for life.’” Based on the evidence, we tend to agree.

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