PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SELBY
In just a short couple of years, design duo CONFETTISYSTEM has grown from creating DIY runway displays and window decorations for New York stores and designers (like Opening Ceremony, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, and United Bamboo) to manufacturing displays for all of J. Crew's stores nationwide. Along the way, Julie Ho and Nicholas Andersen have collaborated on a stage design for the band Beach House and created party decorations for everyone from the American Ballet Theatre to Tavi Gevinson to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O. Which makes a certain sense for some ex-art school kids who originally thought they were forming a band, not a design company.
KEN MILLER: What lead you to form CONFETTISYSTEM?
CONFETTISYSTEM: The concept of CONFETTISYSTEM started while were planning decorations for one of our musical performances. We remembered how fun piñata parties were when we were young, and we wanted to recreate that feeling. We decided to make only geometric ones based on platonic solids, because we were really into the idea of using one shape to create a three-dimensional object. Eventually, we decided to continue exploring and working with the concept of what makes a party, creating heightened experiences through interactive objects, settings and sounds....
MILLER: Would you say a company like Bergdorf Goodman or J. Crew is more buttoned-up than the independent designers like United Bamboo and Opening Ceremony that you've worked with?
CONFETTISYSTEM: Actually, not really. Some clients have specific needs, which is a great challenge because you have to find a way to meet their needs as well as stay true to your vision. Others have a similar vision to ours, such as Opening Ceremony and United Bamboo. But we've been lucky. Most of the people we've worked with—whether it's a large company or an independent one—have given us the freedom to do what we want. It's always a collaboration, but they tend to trust us and what we're doing, which is a dream.
MILLER: You've also done decorations for live events such as the American Ballet Theatre benefit with Hamish Bowles at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Do you have a different approach for a live event versus a print project such as a magazine or catalogue? Do you have a preference?
CONFETTISYSTEM: Our approach for both is pretty similar—we envision what the ideal piece or space will look like and then start making it.... What's a bit different is the actual install/shoot day. With a magazine or catalogue shoot, there's a bit more room to finesse and make something look a certain way for the still image you're capturing. For a live event, it's a bit more spontaneous as to how the piece will fit within the space. Usually, you only have a few hours to install a huge piece you've been creating in the studio, which is a totally different space.
MILLER: Fashion takes itself very seriously. Do you?
CONFETTISYSTEM: We're only serious when we have to be.
MILLER: Do you relate more to fashion designers or product designers?
CONFETTISYSTEM: Both? They are becoming more and more alike. Although we make objects or products, we think more spatially and imagine what kind of world our objects will live in. So I guess you can say we actually relate more with sculptors.
MILLER: What can you tell me about your pieces for (Le Baron founder) Lionel Bensemoun's new Paris shop and Damien Hirst's London shop?
CONFETTISYSTEM: We are creating an installation for Lionel Bensemoun's new restaurant/shop next week and we're also selling new custom objects at the shop. We'll be making everything there, which will be really fun. For Other Criteria, Damien Hirst's new store, we've created a custom garland for their holiday window installation.
MILLER: A lot of your objects are created to be destroyed. What is it you like so much about that?
CONFETTISYSTEM: We don't see our work as being precious. In the long view, we hope our work can influence a few moments in a person's life. It's sort of an offering: putting our energy into transforming materials to create an object that will be destroyed. It seems a bit reckless, but that's what makes it fun.