I've been a big fan of New York based textile designers, Cold Picnic, for quite a long time now. If you are not already well acquainted with their work, you may recognize their iconic rug series - Private Parts.
As much as I absolutely love their 'Private Parts' series, I'm here to shed light on their collection series 'The Passenger'. Through the lens of photographer Tony Farfalla, Phoebe and Peter of Cold Picnic showcase their brand new rug collection with the most fun and inventive art direction and styling I have seen all year.
The team created colorful abstract landscape dioramas around their artistic rug collection. I was instantly in love. As if their pieces were not beautiful enough; these dioramas showcase their new collection in creative, playful and contemporary way without taking themselves too seriously.
We sit down to have a little chat with Peter and Phoebe about their creative business, inspirations and collaborate with Tony on their new lookbook photographs.
| Kristen | Can you please introduce yourself and what you do.
| Both | We are Phoebe Sung and Peter Buer, and our brand is Cold Picnic. We design rugs and other home accessories from our studio in Ridgewood, NY
| Kristen | What is your background in?
| Phoebe | My initial background was in journalism and Chinese but I went to the University of Pennsylvania and got a BA in fine arts with an emphasis on sculpture. After graduating I worked a few odd jobs and returned to school a few years later to study fashion design. I worked in corporate apparel design for a few more years before starting Cold Picnic with Peter.
| Peter | I grew up in Brighton, England. After high school I entered into a design program where I studied fashion design, graphic design and architecture. Upon moving to the US, I received my BFA in Apparel Design at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, which is where I met Phoebe. I worked a few corporate design jobs as a knitwear designer and a print designer before Phoebe and I decided to move to New York and focus on Cold Picnic.
| Kristen | How did you first start making rugs and what inspired you to carve out this little niche where fine art meets textiles?
| Cold Picnic | We used to make wall hangings, and always aimed to go large enough to make a rug, but in the end never had the patience for it. After a week of constant needlework your hand sort of turns into a claw. When we made the transition from producing everything in house to outsourcing production, a rug manufacturer was the first thing we looked for.
We both have fine arts rather than textile design backgrounds, so any intersection could be attributed to that. But in the end we just designed the rugs we wanted and hoped others would want them too.
| Kristen | What is this particular collection about and how often do you come out with new collections? Are they limited edition?
| Peter | We release new rug collections about twice a year, and we’ll release a single piece like a pillow or bathmat sort of randomly. We also release jewelry collections but less often, maybe once a year. They’re not quite limited edition. For rugs, we’ll usually add in a few favorites from the previous collection in with any new collection’s production order. So each rug may get two seasons. The rug lines have been getting bigger, so there’s been less and less of the carryovers, just to make room for all the new designs.
The Passenger collection was influenced by the film The Passenger by Michelangelo Antonioni. It’s a movie we’ve rewatched so many times over the years, and the colors and landscapes especially always stuck with us. There always seems to be something specific we're waiting for when we start designing a new collection, but it takes quite a bit of looking to uncover it. Rewatching old favorite movies and looking at books and art we love helps with that.
| Kristen | What inspired your collaboration on this photo series?
| Phoebe | We’ve always photographed our rugs extending into their environments. Our first collection of rugs was very landscape driven, and we set our lookbook at an abandoned prison so they looked liked they occupied rooms, or cells, than nature had taken over. Even our Private Parts rugs were photographed with a nude-ish model behind them (she wore a bathing suit but you couldn't tell), so the designs stood in for her “privates”. Both those collections were photographed by the photographer who shot this newest collection, Tony Farfalla. He always seems to instinctively understand what we want and then some.
With our first “Hi-Lo” collection we continued the shapes from the rugs onto the walls and floors of our studio, and even into the air with these mobiles. It was a lot of fun, and it made sense this time to take it one step further and build a contained landscape for each of the designs.
| Kristen | What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
| Both | Treat other designers like your coworkers rather than competition. Hopefully you'll both be around for a while. Invest in your brand, both financially and in terms of the time and effort you spend. Try everything, but don't be afraid to be picky and protective of your brand. Don't expect everything (or anything!) to happen overnight.