Rotganzen created by the two Netherlands-born designers, Robin Stam and Joeri Horstink, is the Rotterdam and New York-based design collective focusing on universally cherished subjects and of course, pop culture. Known to be the party savvy duo, most of their work is heavily associated with party themes and decorations. What makes their art really pop though is its creative take on ordinary objects, maintaining the subjects’ realist usage while changing the appearances and adding a layer of absurdity and artistic interpretations to the pieces— think melted disco ball, broken party tent, the deformed gumball machine and you’ll sort of get the idea. With that being said, it may not come as a surprise to see the next subject added to their bandwagon is confetti.
The plural of confetto, confetti literally translates to small sweets or wrapped sugared almonds in Italian. During the celebration period, the bonbons wrapped in rainbows of colourful papers are tossed around in the air as part of their celebrazione. As time waltzed through the clock, the tiny wrapped delights have evolved into papers. And thus, the vivid lifelike paper confetti was born.
Now sprinkling the whole venue of 72 Courtyard with gigantic confetti, the two designers totally transformed subjects of celebration into this larger-than-life outdoor art installation which will be exhibited until the end of this year. Twisted and reborn, the confetti represents more than the sense of happiness it seeks to convey. We got to sit down with Robin and Joeri, so read on for our full interview to know their insights which reveal all the dimensions lived out in – their work of art.
Robin: Because confetti is the icon for celebration. We also really love the fact that it’s so useless. That’s why we wanted to make it bigger, more valuable, and more like an art piece.
Joeri: Another thing is that confetti is this disposable thing but on the other hand, it has a great significance in many cultures. Confetti is an Italian term for small candy and the Italians have long been using it in celebrations, for example, the throwing of candy during carnivals. In some countries, confetti emerged in the form of coloured rice. Then the confetti evolved into paper. It has this symbolic meaning of celebration. It’s also very colourful. Once you blow it up in the air, you always get this Alice in Wonderland sort of feeling.
Robin: When we knew we had to cover the whole area with our art, right away we thought of confetti. The idea was just so surreal.
Joeri: And we don’t just use words. We use emojis, like the smiley face, because it’s more abstract. In this modern day, we all use emojis when texting each other because simply, it does the job well; it helps to convey our emotions better than text.
Joeri: Confetti, to us, has a double meaning. First of all, it’s a symbol of celebration in any party or festive cultural occasion. However, on the other hand, it’s throwaway. What you see here is almost like a frozen moment of confetti floating around in the air before hitting the ground.
Robin: Rotganzen is a Dutch word for brant, also known as the brent goose.
Joeri: First of all we picked this name because it sounds really Dutch. This species of goose often travels in packs. Everywhere they go, they eat everything and poop everywhere. Then they leave. Just like when party people who set foot on party grounds, go wild, and leave a big mess behind. So the name works well with the party theme we often play with.
Robin: The name also sticks. Although it sounds very Dutch and hard to pronounce, the name really works internationally; it sticks. People just want to master saying it right.
Robin: Colours play a huge part in our work. Obviously, we have a dark side in our art–like the hidden meaning—but we still want to represent it in a colourful and playful way. That’s why colours are so important.
Joeri: It’s a bit misleading also because it looks like we are these cheerful guys with a joyful work of art but that’s actually not all that we want to portray. If you take a closer look, our work — like the confetti – displays not only the happiness but also the darker side of life. Very much like life itself, it combines both happy and sad moments. We really don’t want to make too emotional of an art piece, so that’s why colours fit within the concept.
Joeri: We used to party a lot more when we first started. But now we have different lives. Robin has two kids and I’m also going to be a daddy in February. Plus, we have loads of work, so partying these days is not really an option. Also, it’s not that we like to party so we make this kind of work. Both of us are just very much fond of the party concept. Celebration belongs to life and it’s part of life to celebrate. There’s a lot of people who have a hard life but here’s one moment where they can unwind and be joyous so it’s very crucial.
Robin: Back then it was the parties. Now the internet is where we get most of our inspiration. Movies and songs are also great sources of inspiration.
Joeri: Travelling, meeting people, facing different kinds of situations, and going to places also helps to motivate us into finding new inspirations, too.
Robin: that’s also partly why we work together. We talk a lot about our work and what we have done. We have millions of ideas so we always share it together.
Robin: We both are from different fields. I am a graphic designer and Joeri is an architect. You can see the blend of that in our work.
Joeri: And it comes together, perfectly. We think the same in many ways and feel quite the same about lots of things. I guess it’s because we’ve known each other a long time, too. With our work, we also focus a lot on the universal theme, anything of a mass or pop culture, so usually you won’t see the essence of me or him in it so obviously.
Robin: It comes very naturally.
Joeri: Yes, when we find something that we are obsessed with, we talk about it and the nice thing is that because we are from different fields, specialising in different things, we know what would and wouldn’t work when we plan out the project together.
Robin: I also think that the most important thing about working in this field is the concept; it has to be sharp and precise. And we have to stick to the concept we come up with, always.
Joeri: If the idea gets way too big and broad, we would start cutting it down until we get the core essence of the original idea. It’s essential to do that so that we won’t get lost in ideas.
Robin: We have a few things coming.
Joeri: Yes, the most exciting things are the two new projects we are working on. The subject of our new project is chewed gum. We are going to make art out of it, making the old new again. Currently, we have millions of chewed gum pieces back at our studio. Our goal is to launch it at Milan Design Week in April 2019. But we will see.