+41 have played a pivotal role in the scene not only in Europe but around the world in recent years. The design company based in Switzerland work on many mediums and really made a move when they produced the famous Chocolate sneakers, the rest you could say is history. We caught up with Phillipe from +41 to talk more about the group of designers inspiration and what they are working on as we speak…
Can you please describe your motivation was to become a designer?
For my part it has always been a wish and a natural thing, maybe due to the fact that my grandfather was a graphic designer, my grandmother a photographer, my father a photographer, his sister a graphic designer and my mother went to the same art school as my father (the same school than my wife did) I have been into art and design since day one, I have always been drawing etc
How did +41 start and how did the name +41 come about?
First of all +41 is the name of a small brand which is comprimised of graphic designers: Laurence Jaccottet, Ivan Liechti and me, so we are first of all graphic designers working under the name of //DIY (Do It Yourself). We started +41 as a mandat, a guy asked us to create our own brand and he was supposed to support the product and the all financial part, that ended before the first collection came out so we split and kept going on, on our own. +41 is the switzerland international dialling code.
Special paper edition “Submit Text” the story of Roger featuring Florian Chevillard
You work on many different canvases and mediums of design what would you consider your favourite?
Yes we like to cross boundaries and interact with different fields of creations, mix mediums etc, we do a lot of photography but it’s pretty hard to say what we do prefer, I think the best thing we like is to be able to switch from one to the other! Experiment and use the best medium depending on the project, not mixing everything just to mix it but for us creation is complex and it’s good to think about the best way’s to express ourselves! We also really like to get deep in a monomaniac process, just depend on the purpose and so the project.
Do you travel a lot? Especially for inspiration for your work?
I try to travel as much as possible its really a big source of inspiration, to see other countries and people! Traveling, its maybe one of he most important thing to do in a life…
Can you tell us a bit more about the chocolate sneakers made with Nike?
The choco sneakers is a long story… we did the first one for the mag Sneaker Freaker and when we saw the result we immediatly thought we should do more and especialy mini ones! We were already working with Nike at that time and so they got involved right from the beggining because they loved the idea and saw that the result was just perfect!
All our choco products are made in a old chocolate house in Lausanne, its called Blondel and is in the same place since 1850.
You have done a lot of work with Nike and if the chocolate sneakers did not put you on the map the Air Max 1 definitely did. How is your relationship with Nike unique and what sets the tone for your work with them?
The chocolate sneakers definetly put us on the map, we produced them for many Nike events around the world did so much press etc… for the Air Max 1 yes it was a success, but the big surprise for us was the opportunity to see our shoes getting auctioned by Christies in Zurich, that was quiet crazy because it was really the first time they where doing an auction like that! It was a step forward in the recognition of the sneaker movement its a bit historical… We try to always come up with fresh idea’s and perfect realisation! For us its really important that everything we do with them has to be perfect and innovative, we always care about the concept as much as the formal apsect! Otherwise everything is possible! We are always trying to do our best even if its for a low budget project it has to be perfect other wise we dont do it!
Special collaboration with Reine et Roi NYC
Where do you see +41 at the moment especially with many, many people trying to make tees at present?
As I said for us we are more graphic designers than stylist or whatever so we are not really in this war for making the best hyppest coolest tees in the world! we do our thing and try to make it inteligent funny and beautiful but we are not following the trend or whatever but its funny to see how sometimes everybody seems to be mind connected hmmm we are just graphic designers trying to put some cool clothes because we like that! and its working rather good, people seems to like what we do propose.
Has music always been a big part of your life and do you see it as inspiration and motivation for your design work?
Yeah sure Music is one of the most important and inspiring thing in my life, i’m producing and have other music project going on like UBS a production team that I created and manage with my man Yvan Jacquemet aka Peacemaker, one of the biggest Hip-Hop and R’n’ B producer in europe. Also at +41 we are all big music consumers , Ivan is a real records collector, all type of good music he knows so much about music and he also plays records in parties over here! So yes its really a source of inspiration and about music we gonna soon put out a new BigPants record! he has made so many great songs since the last album!
You have been creating publications for some 6 years now, how do you continue to keep them fresh and new?
Good question, we are just trying to do our best by creating things that make sense and be beautiful, we try to develop as much as possible a way to think and a way to approch creation by the most appropriate reflection, and that for each project, more than trying to aplly an esthetic or a design… and we always like to play with references and put a bit of humour in what we do! It’s important to bring some surprise we always like when the public have to rethink how they were considering you and your work!
You are currently involved with the Nike1/1 Exhibition, was that a natural move considering your previous work with Nike?
Yes, they just asked us if we would like to take part and we said yes of course, it was perfect timing because we were already working on the sneaker sacralization theme, so we applied this thinking to the football context by creating a similar instalation we did for Cellophane.
Nike 1/1 Project ‘Holygame’ Art Basel June 4-8
The piece that you created was entitled ‘Holygame’ can you describe the piece and tell us a bit more?
Yes like I said it talks about football sacralization the cult to this game! It’s a kind of representation of what could be a prayer monument for this sport! The shoes create a kind of pyramid and enclosed in it you have the ball, standing like a precious item at the centre of attention, the shoes are stretched by the tension between the shoe lace’s, the structure is extremly tense! So it’s possible to make a parralelism between this structure and a football team, the link between the players the tension between them and its also about the force that you can find in this sport or in the stadium, the tension between the fans the supporters, sometimes its positive sometimes negative but anyway its powerful!
What do you see for the future of +41?
To take new directions, get involved in new projects, experimenting new fields, to discover new things and new people. So more projects, more challenges and most important: having FUN! We have so many ideas… sky’s the limit!