Thursday 11 February 2016

10 Question Column: Dichroic Art Chair Inspired by Daft Punk

Blurring the lines between art and design, DJs and designers Juliette Mutzke-Felippelli & Diogo Felippelli, pictured at The Week club in Rio de Janeiro, are inspired by French experimental artists like Daft Punk, Etienne de Crecy & Cassius 
American designer Juliette Mutzke-Felippelli and Brazilian Diogo Felippelli first met on the dance floor at a club in Rio de Janeiro before they opened their design studio Joogii in Los Angeles. Today, French house music is still one of their key inspirations, especially for their dynamic new chair. Jeanne-Marie Cilento asked them 10 Questions about their life and work

French Touch's luminous layers, a homage to French house music   
FRENCH experimental artists like Daft Punk, Cassius and Etienne De Crecy inspired the design of Juliette Mutzke-Felippelli and Diogo Felippelli's latest work. Called French Touch, the chair pays homage to the nineties house music scene and its legacy to modern electronic music. Blurring the lines between art and design, the luminous colour spectrum of the chair's reflective surfaces and the puzzle-like lap joints are a metaphor for the conceptual way the music tracks were produced by layering disco samples with filters. "To create that distinct sound, it was all about mixing uplifting disco samples with heavy filters," says Mutzke-Felippelli. “I interpreted this layering and filtering process literally by using dichroic film, which acts as this beautiful colour filter applied to the flat acrylic surfaces of the chair, creating plays and reflections of light."
Playing to big crowds as DJ's at Rio's Museum of Modern Art
House music was always one of Juliette Mutzke-Felippelli's passions and while she was studying in Rio De Janeiro she met Brazilian Diogo Felippelli who was already a DJ in the city. Once they started dating they decided to deejay together at big clubs in Rio and also produce music. They then moved to Southern California and signed with a local label producing house music and doing shows in Los Angeles and Orange County.   

Designers Juliette Mutzke-Felippelli & Diogo Felippelli 
The couple decided to start their own company, Joogii, so they could open a studio together. They have been working creatively since they met nearly ten years ago and wanted to be able to work on design, art and music projects. While Juliette first completed her Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she later decided to do a degree in Interior Design with an emphasis on furniture design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. "Diogo's degrees in Communications plus an MBA have helped us build our design business," she says. 

The French Touch chair is designed and manufactured in Los Angeles and composed of dichroic film applied to CNC-cut acrylic, connected by steel bolts. “The film is cut and applied to the inner surfaces of the chair," Mutzke-Felippelli says. "The most important factor determining the design of the chair was to show off the 'dichroic effect'. So we created flat surfaces at every angle on the chair so you can see how the colors change while playing with light and shadow.” The chair will be available as a limited edition for $7,500. Scroll to the end of story to hear the mixtape created by the designers & DJs  for the French Touch chair.

Designing the J1 watch created by the couple's Joogii studio 
1.After working in music production and as deejays, how did you begin your career as designers? Music, like design, has a logic as well as an architectural building process. Musical tracks have different components like high hats and claps, that need to be considered the same way that form and function are considered in design. A great artist or designer also understands the value of resonating on an emotional level with their audience. I didn’t officially begin my career in design until going back to school to pursue my second degree in Interior Design. Diogo has been working in graphic design his whole career.

2. Why did you choose design as your artistic metier? We were hungry to create objects, concepts and environments that reflect who we are and what we love. The design industry has so many outlets where we can express ourselves, it feels like there are never ending possibilities to explore. 

Overlapping puzzle joints like music sampling
3. Can you describe the experience, person or training that has had the greatest impact on your design careers so far? There are so many moments that have brought us onto the path we are on today. I grew up around design as my father has worked in the industry his entire life (working in surface and industrial design) so he instilled in me an appreciation for it. Ever since I was a child, he would point out special buildings, like when we were in Argentina and he took my family to Faena Hotel which was designed by Philippe Starck. I feel in love with Starck’s whimsy and his ability to create magic in spaces. Diogo always had a passion for graphic design.   As a teenager he admired Washington Olivetto, the owner of W/Brasil, a famous ad agency known for their forward-thinking advertising campaigns. It influenced him to apply for a job in art direction at an ad agency after he graduated college. Since then, he has grown his passion for all types of art and design including typography and photography.

4. Where did you grow up and does this place inspire your creative work? Growing up in Newport Beach has always pushed me to pursue original ideas. The area is very traditional and conservative in a lot of ways and I think that has given me a very high appreciation for novelty.

The French Touch chair's layering of light & colours
5. Today, you are based in Los Angeles, what does the city give you creatively? We love living in Los Angeles. There is so much activity in the art industry right now in LA and it is so exciting to see so many new museums and that creative culture really bloom right in the front of our eyes. It feels like there is movement going on in the city and we are a part of it. One of our favourite things to do to get inspired is to visit the Brewery Art Walk downtown in the spring and fall. It's a great opportunity to see what local artists are creating in their own environment.

6.  Do you find your creative process when designing more rational or instinctive? I think we are both very instinctual. If we have an idea that feels right, we go for it.

Dichroic film on acrylic give the chair its rainbow hues
7. What do find the most challenging aspect of working as designers? Finishing. I think the easiest part of the design process is coming up with the idea. The hardest part is the details ~ especially towards the end of the project where the details are so critical to the design. And then once you have a prototype built, it can be difficult to evaluate it without emotional attachment. We design things that we love so it can be challenging to take a critical look at the finished piece.

8. What part of the designing and making process gives you the most happiness? We love being designers. To come up with an idea and figure out how to make it happen and then actually make it happen is so gratifying. I feel like half the battle in our industry is just perseverance. It’s always a question of willpower and belief to see a project through, especially when you are working on a project that is unorthodox or untested. The whole process can be thrilling and terrifying, but if you have belief and perseverance, I think you can create something special. To see other people enjoy the finished product is icing on the cake.

J1 watch designed by Juliette Mutzke-Felippelli & Diogo Felippelli
9. Do you have a set schedule of working creatively everyday or is the process more fluid?   It’s very fluid for us. I read once that Olafur Elliason (one of our favourite designers/artists) likes to do the thinking in the morning and the building in the afternoon and we try to prescribe to that as we think it’s effective.

10. In our digital age, what does design give us as an art form? Design is the new art. Advances in technology, especially 3D printing are allowing designers to test and create more intricately and faster than ever before. It is expanding the limits of design to allow for more artistic gestures, which we are embracing wholeheartedly.

Mixtape created by the designers for the French Touch chair:

Subscribe to support our independent and original journalism, photography, artwork and film.