Who said you can’t invent your very own fantasy job? That is what Nick and Julie from CONFETTISYSTEM did. Their dream jobs progressed naturally into a business due to similar aesthetic and taste. Now the duo is extremely busy traveling around the globe creating conceptual but lighthearted objects by using simple materials and giving them life. Recently, they have collaborated with Lanvin, Opening Ceremony, United Bamboo and MoMA PS1. We catch up with Nick and Julie in between their many escapades as artists, stylists and designers.
Photo courtesy of Leonard Fong
What brought you guys together?
N: Definitely a shared aesthetic…and the way our ideas build on each other, from the beginning we were sort of finishing each others thoughts, you could say it was a psychic connection!
J:Yes definitely, we have been friends for a long time and it was very natural to start working together.
How did you decide to be a business?
We were decorating our friend’s parties and music performances together for awhile. We really loved how we could transform a space and mood for one night, adding an energy to the space and leaving people with a memory.
We loved it so much we decided to experiment with the idea of what a classic ‘party object’ is and what it could become. And what kind of worlds and environments we could create with them. Our piñatas and necklaces were the first series of objects we created and photographed. We both have backgrounds in set design and sculpture so it was very natural for us to envision our objects in a particular context and then create it to photograph. It all started with our initial series of photos we shot with our friend Jason Fox. Eventually the photos made their way online and we started collaborating on sets and custom pieces with our friends. It has been a very organic process. We’ve been very fortunate to be able to work with so many talented artists and designers on projects we really love.
Who came up with the name? Is there any significance to it?
N: Actually CONFETTISYSTEM was a band first! Our friend Karlo thought of the name, Julie was in the band along with a few others and we both decorated for performances in my basement in Williamsburg. The band didn’t last too long, but we thought the name was too amazing to let go! And all of the ideas of transforming spaces and celebration sort of crystallized that summer.
Photo courtesy of Leonard Fong
What kind of art mediums does CONFETTISYSTEM work with?
We are primarily paper based, but we also created a line of silk and leather jewelry. Recently, we’ve been experimenting more with fabrics. We’ve been working on a few permanent interior installations so it’s been really interesting to find and experiment with more durable materials.
We’re both really inspired by simple materials and exploring the limitless possibilities and opportunities to transform something that is so everyday into something unexpected and refreshing….to give it value through our hands and ideas.
You guys have done quite a bit of collaboration with various fashion houses and artists. Which artist(s) did you guys collaborate with first?
The first big project we did was a collaboration with United Bamboo. We created large set pieces for their Spring 2009 runway presentation in NYC and created the sets for their ad campaign that season featuring Terence Koh.
What was your last collaboration? Any new projects?
Recently we’ve worked on a few projects with Lanvin which has been really amazing.
We’re currently creating the stage design for the MOMA PS1 Warm Up events this summer. We just worked on one this past Saturday and 2 upcoming Saturdays at the end of the summer. We’re also collaborating with Lane Crawford in Hong Kong on their winter store installations which we’re very excited about!
Do you have any dream artist that you both would like to work with?
Sheila Hicks, James Turrell
I read that you guys both enjoy the hobby of craft making. Are there any arts and crafts that you work on outside of ConfettiSystem?
J: I’m hoping to find some time to take a weaving class, I’ve always been very interested in textiles.
N: I am going to start doing ceramics again, it was my focus in school but it’s been years…can’t wait!
CONFETTISYSTEM for Opening Ceremony. Custom fringed exotic bird head for OCNY
You have art directed and installed for fashion brands such as Opening Ceremony, United Bamboo, J Crew and even bands like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Beach House. Did you always know that you wanted to art direct and create installations or was this something that happened organically due to experience and learning curbs?
N: Every now and then we both remember that as kids we were sort of natural stylists. We were both always making little sets or vignettes in our rooms, or sewing or building things.
J: It’s definitely an interest I’ve had since I was young.
I’ve always been fascinated and drawn to 3-dimensional spaces. I remember when I was very young, my dad would bring home architectural and home magazines and I would diligently study them. Right after college, I was a studio assistant for a sculptor, Tom Sachs, did a lot of work set designing for film/TV/music videos with Michel Gondry, and worked at ABC Carpet and Home creating window and store displays. So it’s always been a part of life in some way.
N: My grandmother used to head the Jams factory in Hawaii in the 80’s, I think visiting her influenced me a lot. All of the sewing machines and amazing printed fabric, and all of the pattern making and sewing techniques. My parents also started off in Hawaii as sail makers and upholsterers for boats, we always had tons of fabric around and an industrial machine, we would make backpacks for school and sometimes clothes.
Before CONFETTISYSTEM, we worked as prop stylists and craft stylists, set designers, also worked for Martha Stewart for a few years.
CONFETTISYSTEM recently was part of a group show curated by Stephen Burks called ‘Are You Hybrid?’. How was working with the talents involved? How was the experience for you?
Stephen saw our Gold Wall and thought it would work well with the concept of the show he was curating at the Museum of Arts and Design in NY. We’ve known Stephen for a while and he’s always been super supportive. We really admire his work as a designer and the curatorial mix of his show is quite impressive.
Photo courtesy of Leonard Fong
Do you guys wear the jewelry that you make?
J: I do! It works with everything I wear, not surprisingly. We’re planning on working on new designs and colorways soon…very excited!
It seems you like to take familiar staples when making your jewelry and putting your own spin on it. Is this a conscious decision?
Yes I guess that is sort of the case…we are both perfectionists and kind of obsessive. When we began making the initial series, we started from scratch, in terms of materials and construction, and just made the idealized versions of the objects that we were dreaming about.
Where do you guys get your sources of inspiration?
Often ideas come as memories of objects and places and experiences from the past that spark new projects or ideas.
J: Growing up in New York….
N: Growing up in Hawaii…
Do you consider yourselves artists?
Yes…I think the lines between artist, designer and crafts person are constantly shifting and maybe drifting closer and closer to each other.