Welcome: Welcome Beyond

One of my favorite design sites, Yatzer, interviewed Berlin based brothers Chris and Oliver Laugsch that are the founders of  Welcome Beyond.  It is an amazing collection of unique hotels and homes all over the world.

Welcome Beyond

By Lauren Del Vecchio,

Welcome Beyond is a new travel site with a fresh perspective and delicious eye candy in the form of architecture, design and ambiance. Founders (and brothers) Chris and Oliver Laugsch curate one-of-a-kind places to rest your head across the globe. A villa in Majorca, a modern chalet in Austria, the architectural marvel that is the Treehotel in Northern Sweden… only a few of the many destinations that can be found throughout the site. Explorers by nature and avid world travelers, Laugsch brothers founded Welcome Beyond with the intention of sharing their philosophy that ''where you stay is as vital to the experience as what you see and do''. One look at the images that pop up and you can’t help but agree with them.

How was the idea for Welcome Beyond born?  What was your inspiration? Our dream was always to start a business together, to do something a bit more meaningful and rewarding with our lives. Both my brother and I were at a point where we were fed-up with our jobs and Welcome Beyond really was the culmination of our favorite past-times. We have both lived abroad for many years, we love to travel and we have a passion for good design and architecture.  So it only seemed natural to combine these elements in one place.  We did not go about it in the traditional manner, doing market research and all that. The idea or concept just seemed right, so we went for it. There are, of course, difficult moments, but looking back it has been incredibly rewarding. Every day we deal with fascinating people who all love what they are doing.

How do you find these spectacular properties and architectural beauties?  I know there are a few boutique hotels, have any been built specifically for Welcome Beyond or were they all built originally as residences? They are all the product of passionate owners who often spent years developing, restoring and decorating their properties. And through our personal interviews with the owners, we try to tell their story – how a couple sailing around the world fell in love with a small island and ended up adopting it, how a single mother went on holiday, bought a derelict property and never went back home or why the British building authorities were not amused by the name ‘Love Shack’.  Initially, we found the properties by spending many months looking through newspapers, magazines and websites worldwide. Today we have a number of people scouting and recommending properties to us, and more and more owners are approaching us as they want us to list their property. Unfortunately, we can only accept a small percentage of them in order to keep our collection to the standard it is today.

At Yatzer, we find your philosophy refreshing.  You explain that it is about gaining new perspectives:  "...Not just geographically, but beyond the obvious, the predictable, the expected. It’s about gaining new perspectives on regions, cultures and places of incredible beauty."  As a design site we’d really love to ask your opinion, what is it about one's surroundings that transcends an experience to another level? Absolutely, I believe it is about gaining new perspectives. We are all immersed in our day-to-day lives, the usual, the familiar – it is hard to break out of the routine. It requires time and effort to create a truly inspiring space.  And that is what all of the owners of the properties we have listed, have done. They have invested a lot of time and effort into creating a very personal space – often a reflection of their own character. The owner of Casa de Madrid put it this way:  “The decoration of each room is very different yet on the whole, when you walk through the house, you can feel the harmony. It is like the same person with a different sense of humor. It’s my personality, from one day to another, and that’s carried over into the rooms themselves.”

Guests appreciate that. People who use our website regard shelter as a meaningful part of their travel experience. They are looking beyond the obvious, predictable and standard hotel you find in every corner of the world. Because being in beautiful surroundings helps recharge the batteries.  So, people do love beautiful and functional things. But we are simply overwhelmed with impressions, everything is constantly changing. It is difficult to find a calming and soothing spot, to find the time to appreciate something beautiful and be inspired by it.  Wilber Das, Creative Director of Diesel and the owner of the Uxua Casa Hotel, is a very good example. The fashion industry is constantly changing, things don’t last. The Uxua Casa Hotel was a reaction to that, a longing to create something that lasts.

Welcome Beyond is also about giving back. You call it a ''social business''. Could you tell us a little bit more about that? *Editor’s note:  This is something that the owners have planned to roll out in their next “phase”.   More to come in the near future! Welcome Beyond is all about finding amazing places to stay and promoting great locations. In order to put some greater meaning into the enjoyment of these luxuries and to be able to give something back, we have decided to operate Welcome Beyond as a social business. In the future we will use profits generated through Welcome Beyond to support those who are less fortunate. We don’t want to simply give away the money to a charity, though. We want to put it to a better and more immediate use. We are already thinking about some ideas and projects but none of them are confirmed yet. It is incorporated into our phase two and is still some time away.

Interview: Maria Cornejo

I've been a fan of Carol Han's blog Milk & Mode for a while now.  She has found the intersection of fashion and food--what could be better?  I'm also a big fan of Maria Cornejo.  So when I came across this article on Bon Appetit, I got excited.  I was fortunate to work with Maria at a storytelling workshop led by one of my clients Karen Harvey.  After spending two days together in the workshop, I came away inspired by Maria's natural ease and her incredible design talent.  In my eyes, she embodies the word goddess and this interview only affirms my feelings.

 

Kitchen Couture: Designer Maria Cornejo's Ceviche

By Carol Han

A few days ago, Chilean-born fashion designer Maria Cornejo had the best meal of her life: homemade gnocchi, made by her husband, photographer Mark Borthwick, and served with fresh basil pesto and lasagna with bacon and vegetables. They ate by candlelight in the garden of their Brooklyn brownstone. And she was wearing (we had to ask) the Long Sarah Dress in Tribal linen from her spring/summer collection.

To us, the dinner sounds just as sophisticated and lovely as her garments. An award-winning designer who counts Tilda Swinton, Cindy Sherman, and Michelle Obama among her customers, Cornejo makes clothes for the thinking woman--simple lines that curve and swoop along the body, and prints that hold attention.

Here she takes a quick pause from fashion week prep to talk food and cooking, which she happens to love, and shares a ceviche recipe she learned to make while growing up in Chile.

What's your go-to snack after a long day of fittings? Roasted seaweed

What do you eat to celebrate a new line? Tacos and margaritas

How often do you cook? My husband Mark Borthwick does most of the cooking at our house. I usually cook when he is traveling or for our picky teenage son, Joey.

What are a few of your favorite restaurants? 5 Burros in Queens for fish tacos; Il Buco and Frankies 457 for fresh, quality Italian; Hibino in Cobble Hill for sushi.What is your favorite city and can you tell us what your top 5 favorite places are in that city? Los Angeles: Animal Restaurant, Lucques, MOCA, Getty Museum, The Botanical Gardens at the Huntington LibraryWhat are your top three tips for entertaining? Cook with togetherness and with love, candles set the ambience, and make sure you are able to enjoy the time with your guests.What is the one kitchen accessory or tool you couldn't live without? A blenderWhere are some of your go-to tableware items and where did you buy them? Our wooden serving spoons we collect from world travels and Lebanese Silverware from Liwan in Paris.Maria Cornejo's Ceviche

INGREDIENTS 1 1/4 pounds fresh red snapper (or similar firm white fish), rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1-inch cubes Juice of 15 limes (enough to cover the fish) 1 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise 1 garlic clove, minced 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped Salt and pepper

PROCEDURE In a large bowl, combine fish chunks, red onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and salt and pepper. Cover with lime juice. Refrigerate and let marinate for 3 hours. Serve chilled.

Interview: Opening Ceremony

"Go full force and do not do anything haphazardly."

Shopbop recently interviewed Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, founders of Opening Ceremony.  As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of these two, not only because I feel inspired every time I walk into Opening Ceremony, but because Humberto and Carol aren't afraid to take risks and go with their gut.  It's an important skill of any entrepreneur and I think they embrace it with confidence.

Cool Factor: Talking with Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon & Carol Lim

Sometimes that old saying holds true: either you’ve got it or you don’t. In the case of Opening Ceremony founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, they’ve definitely got it. The duo opened their store in 2002, and it has since become a beacon for the downtown set, developing collaborations with some of fashion’s coolest kids and, most recently, working with photographer Terry Richardson and model Lindsey Wixson to shoot their spring lookbook. We talked with Leon and Lim about Opening Ceremony’s philosophy and collaborations, and working Wixson and Richardson.

Shopbop: Model Lindsey Wixson served as your muse for the spring 2011 collection. What is it about her that speaks to the Opening Ceremony brand? HL & CL: We decided to shoot Lindsey Wixson for the SS11 campaign because she truly embodies youth, freshness, and personality. Lindsey was super fun to work with and brought an amazing energy to the shoot. And that smile? How could we resist?!

Shopbop: You shot the lookbook with renowned photographer Terry Richardson. Can you tell us a little about what made you choose him? HL & CL: Terry Richardson is very much part of the Opening Ceremony family. We have been friends with him for years and have always wanted to work together. He really captured the fun element of the collection through his photos. Model-muse Lindsey Wixson, shot by Terry Richardson for the spring 2011 lookbook.

Shopbop: Tell us a little bit about the history of the store. What inspired you to open it? Humberto Leon & Carol Lim: The inspiration for the store came from a trip we took to Hong Kong in 2000. We decided to visit a mutual friend of ours from UC Berkeley and had such an incredible time finding so many things—clothing, objects, food, magazines, music—that we knew we wanted to bring this sense of discovery back to everyone we knew.

This excitement led us to open Opening Ceremony in 2002.

Shopbop: Opening Ceremony has a unique retail perspective, highlighting a new country each year. What is the philosophy behind this approach? HL & CL: The philosophy stemmed from our love of travel. As we looked to other people or companies that featured a country every year, we realized that our concept shared similarities to the Olympics: featuring a country (not only from a sports level, but also from a cultural and infrastructure level too), the idea of anticipation, and celebration.

So, each year, Opening Ceremony features a country, bringing together emerging designers, established brands, and items we discover alongside a long and growing list of brands from the US and past countries we have featured. In the past we’ve featured Hong Kong, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, Japan, France, and the USA.

Shopbop: The Opening Ceremony brand has become an arbiter of what’s hot with the downtown set. Is there a secret to your success? HL & CL: I think that it all comes from the heart. We are always excited about everything we bring into the store, so we always go with our gut.

Shopbop: Collaborative design is also key to the Opening Ceremony experience. What prompted you to start pursuing collaborations? HL & CL: From the beginning, we have always thought of ourselves as storytellers. So the idea of doing partnerships is completely natural. For instance, we have always believed in heritage and authenticity, and when we wanted to develop a flannel shirt, we went to the original makers at Pendleton and decided to work with them in telling their story through our lens.

Shopbop: You’ve worked with some of fashion’s coolest kids—Chloë Sevigny, Rodarte’s Mulleavy sisters—as well as iconic brands like Keds and Levi’s. How do you go about choosing and developing these collaborations? HL & CL: All our partnerships are from the heart and from nostalgic relationships we have with people and brands. There is no set formula to the different partners we work with. Sometimes they happen within weeks of the products being in the store. We like to react from the gut, and most of the time, we are so excited about the projects that we want to share them immediately.

Shopbop: Rodarte is a particularly exciting collaboration, making this label accessible to a much broader audience. How did the partnership come about and what inspired the collection?

HL & CL: We’ve known Kate and Laura since they were 18. We all went to UC Berkeley together and have always had a great connection. The partnership with Rodarte was a natural because together, we share a similar vision of storytelling. We wanted the collection to be a conversation, and we feel that we absolutely succeeded.

Shopbop: You’ve been working with Chloë Sevigny for a handful of seasons. What makes her such a great match for the Opening Ceremony aesthetic? HL & CL: Chloë Sevigny is a good example of working with a friend who happens to be a fashion muse, and bringing her visions to life. In her own way of dressing, Chloë is incredible at mixing designer fashion with street wear, and that language speaks to Opening Ceremony completely. Chloë is always willing to experiment with fashion, which is so refreshing.

Shopbop: Are there any other collaborations in the works that you can tell us about? HL & CL: We are launching MM6 Maison Martin Margiela x Opening Ceremony in the fall, which is super exciting. We are currently working on the next installment of Chloë Sevigny for Opening Ceremony and Rodarte x Opening Ceremony as well.

Shopbop: Do you have a favorite collaboration from the last few years? HL & CL: They are all so different and so personal, it would be hard to choose a favorite. Chloë, Rodarte, Pendleton, Maison Michel, MM6, Deyrolle, Keds, Dr. Martens, Agnes B., K. Jacques… They are all so different and speak to us in a special way.

Shopbop: If you had to isolate one moment from the last nine years, what would be the highlight of your work with Opening Ceremony? HL & CL: September 1, 2002, the first day Opening Ceremony opened. Carol and I were the only two employees, and we didn’t know how to interact with customers so were both fighting for the register position.

3 Fast Questions for Humberto & Carol: All-time favorite fashion label: HL & CL: Comme des Garçons and Dries Van Noten

Person you most admire in the industry: HL & CL: The people behind the scenes you don’t ever hear about.

Best advice you can offer someone looking to get a foot in the fashion industry: HL & CL: Go full force and do not do anything haphazardly.

*Photo by Jason Frank Rothenberg

Interview: Francis Ford Coppola

"The only risk is to waste your life, so that when you die, you say, “Oh, I wish I had done this.” I did everything I wanted to do, and I continue to."

Ariston Anderson recently sat down with Francis Ford Coppola to talk to him about his creative process.  There is a level of humility that emerges in this interview that I find admirable and inspiring.  Enjoy!
Over the course of 45 years in the film business, Francis Ford Coppola has refined a singular code of ethics that govern his filmmaking. There are three rules: 1) Write and direct original screenplays,  2) make them with the most modern technology available,  and 3) self-finance them.
But Coppola didn’t develop this formula overnight. Though he found Hollywood success at the young age of 30, he admits that the early “Godfather” fame pulled him off course from his dream of writing and directing personal stories. Like Bergman, Coppola wanted to wake up and make movies based on his dreams and nightmares.

Thanks in no small part to his booming wine business, Coppola now does just that. He recently wrapped his latest picture,  “Twixt Now and Sunrise,” based on an alcohol-induced dream he had in Turkey. The film even features the latest 3-D technology – but as a brief dramatic segment that serves the story, rather than the typical two-hour, multiplex gimmick.

I sat down with Mr. Coppola at La Mamounia, the legendary Moroccan palace-turned-hotel, during the Marrakech International Film Festival, where he shared insights on the filmmaking craft with local students. Rejecting the popular “master class” format, Coppola preferred a simple “conversation,” where he spoke candidly with students and shared his advice generously. What follows are excerpts from both conversations.

Why did you choose not to teach a master class? For me in cinema there are few masters. I have met some masters – Kurosawa, Polanski – but I am a student.

I just finished a film a few days ago, and I came home and said I learned so much today. So if I can come home from working on a little film after doing it for 45 years and say, “I learned so much today,” that shows something about the cinema. Because the cinema is very young. It’s only 100 years old.

Even in the early days of the movies, they didn’t know how to make movies. They had an image and it moved and the audience loved it. You saw a train coming into the station, and just to see motion was beautiful.

The cinema language happened by experimentation – by people not knowing what to do. But unfortunately, after 15-20 years, it became a commercial industry. People made money in the cinema, and then they began to say to the pioneers, “Don’t experiment. We want to make money. We don’t want to take chances.”

The cinema language happened by experimentation – by people not knowing what to do.

An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before? I always like to say that cinema without risk is like having no sex and expecting to have a baby. You have to take a risk.

You try to go to a producer today and say you want to make a film that hasn’t been made before; they will throw you out because they want the same film that works, that makes money. That tells me that although the cinema in the next 100 years is going to change a lot, it will slow down because they don’t want you to risk anymore. They don’t want you to take chances. So I feel like [I’m] part of the cinema as it was 100 years ago, when you didn't know how to make it. You have to discover how to make it.

Do you feel like you’re more of a risk-taker now? I was always a good adventurer. I was never afraid of risks. I always had a good philosophy about risks. The only risk is to waste your life, so that when you die, you say, “Oh, I wish I had done this.” I did everything I wanted to do, and I continue to.

What’s the most useful piece of advice you’d give a student? The first thing you do when you take a piece of paper is always put the date on it, the month, the day, and where it is. Because every idea that you put on paper is useful to you. By putting the date on it as a habit, when you look for what you wrote down in your notes, you will be desperate to know that it happened in April in 1972 and it was in Paris and already it begins to be useful. One of the most important tools that a filmmaker has are his/her notes.

If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before?

Is it important to veer away from the masters to develop one’s own style? I once found a little excerpt from Balzac. He speaks about a young writer who stole some of his prose. The thing that almost made me weep,  he said, “I was so happy when this young person took from me.” Because that’s what we want. We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice.

And that’s how you begin. And then one day someone will steal from you. And Balzac said that in his book: It makes me so happy because it makes me immortal because I know that 200 years from now there will be people doing things that somehow I am part of. So the answer to your question is: Don’t worry about whether it’s appropriate to borrow or to take or do something like someone you admire because that’s only the first step and you have to take the first step.

How does an aspiring artist bridge the gap between distribution and commerce? We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it.

You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money.

What’s the greatest challenge of a screenwriter? A screenplay has to be like a haiku. It has to be very concise and very clear, minimal. When you go to make it as a film, you have the suggestions of the actors, which are going to be available to you, right? You’re going to listen to the actors because they have great ideas. You’re going to listen to the photographer because he will have a great idea.

You must never be the kind of director, I think maybe I was when I was 18, “No, no, no, I know best.” That’s not good. You can make the decision that you feel is best, but listen to everyone, because cinema is collaboration. I always like to say that collaboration is the sex of art because you take from everyone you’re working with.

What is the one thing to keep in mind when making a film? When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In “The Godfather,” it was succession. In “The Conversation,” it was privacy. In “Apocalypse,” it was morality.

The reason it’s important to have this is because most of the time what a director really does is make decisions. All day long: Do you want it to be long hair or short hair? Do you want a dress or pants? Do you want a beard or no beard? There are many times when you don’t know the answer. Knowing what the theme is always helps you.

I remember in “The Conversation,” they brought all these coats to me, and they said: Do you want him to look like a detective, Humphrey Bogart? Do you want him to look like a blah blah blah. I didn’t know, and said the theme is ‘privacy’ and chose the plastic coat you could see through. So knowing the theme helps you make a decision when you’re not sure which way to go.

What’s the secret to working with great actors? I’m going to tell you the story of how I prepared the actors of “The Godfather.” Of course, we were all nervous about Marlon Brando. As theatre students in the ‘50s, we looked at him as the greatest. And there was going to be the first time when all the actors were going to meet. Of course, Al Pacino, Jimmy Caan, Bobby Duvall, Johnny Cazale – everyone just admired Marlon. He was the Godfather. I knew that, and I said, “I can use this.” Napoleon once said, “Use the weapons at hand,” and this is what a film director has to do everyday. So what I did is I arranged for the first meeting as an improvisation.

I said, “I want you to come and be hungry.” And they came to a restaurant that I had arranged, the back room of the restaurant, just a table that looked like a home. Marlon, I had sit at the head of the table, and to his right I put Al Pacino, and to his left I put Jimmy Caan. I put Bobby Duvall, and I put Johnny Cazale, and I had my sister Talia, who played Connie, serve the food.

They had a dinner improvisation together, and after awhile everyone is relating to Marlon as the father, and Jimmy Caan is trying to impress him with jokes, and Al Pacino is trying to impress him by being intense and quiet, and my sister was so frightened – she was serving the food. And after that dinner they were the characters. So one tip I give you is, with improvisations, they really stick if there’s something sensual connected with them, like food or eating or making something with their hands.

Napoleon once said, ‘Use the weapons at hand,’ and this is what a film director has to do everyday.

How do you adapt a novel into a script? Well, usually it’s the novel that’s adapted. The novel, unfortunately, is not a good form to adapt to film because the question of the novel is it’s usually much, much, much too long with too many characters, too many parts. The short story is the natural narrative, linear narrative to become a film. Many, many short stories have become films.

With a novel, what I can recommend is when you first read the novel, put good notes in it the first time, right on the book, write down everything you feel, underline every sensation that you felt was strong. Those first notes are very valuable. Then, when you finish the book, you will see that some pages are filled with underlined notes and some are blank.

In theatre, there’s something called a prompt book. The prompt book is what the stage manager has, usually a loose-leaf book with all the lighting cues. I make a prompt book out of the novel. In other words, I break the novel, and I glue the pages in a loose-leaf, usually with the square cutout so I can see both sides.

I have that big book with the notes I took, and then I go and I put lots more observations and notes. Then I begin to go through that and summarize the part that I thought was useful. And quite naturally you’ll see that the parts fall away, or that you have too many characters, so you know that you have to eliminate some or combine some. Working on it this way, from the outside in, being more specific as to what you think… then when you finish that, you are qualified perhaps to try to write a draft based on that notebook.

In the case of “The Godfather” I did that, and although I had a screenplay, I never used it. I always used to take that big notebook around with me, and I made the movie from that notebook. In the case of “Apocalypse,” there was a script written by the great John Milius, but, I must say, what I really made the film from was the little green copy of Heart of Darkness that I had done all those lines in. Whenever I would do a scene, I would check that and see what can I give the movie from Conrad.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given to your children, inside and outside of the industry? Always make your work be personal.

And, you never have to lie. If you lie, you will only trip yourself up. You will always get caught in a lie. It is very important for an artist not to lie, and most important is not to lie to yourself. There are some questions that are inappropriate to ask, and rather than lie, I will not answer them because it’s not a question I accept. So many times we are asked things in our work or in life that you want to lie, and all you have to do is say, “No, that is an improper question.”

So when you get into a habit of not lying when you are writing, directing, or making a film, that will carry your personal conviction into your work. And, in a society where you say you are very free but you’re not entirely free, you have to try. There is something we know that’s connected with beauty and truth. There is something ancient. We know that art is about beauty, and therefore it has to be about truth.

You now have all the resources to do your own production, writing, directing. What’s the biggest barrier to being an artist? Self-confidence always. The artist always battles his own/her own feeling of inadequacy.

How do you overcome that? I’ve learned an interesting thing. When I was young on a movie set, I would try to stage the scene and the actors would read it, and I said, “Well, you stand here and you sit there, and blah, blah, blah.” They would say, “Well, I don’t think I should sit there, I should stand there. And I don’t think this line is right.” And they would begin to challenge the text.

What I learned, which is a simple idea, is that if you hold out with your vision a little bit, it’s like a cake being put in the oven. The scene doesn’t work immediately, you have to bake it a little bit. It’s unfair, when you begin to create a shot, say, or a scene, that it’s going to immediately be like those beautiful scenes in the movies. It needs a little bit of time to mature. It’s like taking the cake out without letting it be in the oven for more than a minute. Like, oh no, it’s terrible. So you have to be patient, and then slowly everyone starts to see that the ideas are right, or make the corrections. You have to battle the lack of confidence by giving the scene the chance to solidify.

Do you use that approach in life as well? Yes, I think. We are very insecure. People are insecure, not just young people. Everyone is insecure. They say that Barbara Streisand, when she goes on, she has a panic attack. She feels she can’t sing. Of course, she can sing. I believe that when you write something, when I write something, I turn it over and I don’t look at it. Because I believe the writer, the young writer, has a hormone that makes them hate what they’ve written. And yet, the next morning, when you look at it, you say, “Oh that’s not bad.” But the first second you hate it.

*Via The 99 Percent

Interview: Rei Kawakubo

I.T. Beijing Market, a 19,000-square-foot emporium blending various Comme des Garçons lines with other designer brands, opened just a week ago in the Sanlitun retail development in Beijing. In a rare interview with WWD, Rei Kawakubo, discusses the opening of her new Dover Street Market retail space.  The interview is brief but insightful and details some of the issues both she and the brand have faced.

WWD: What do you think of the way people dress here and their style?

R.K.: When I came here 10 years ago there were no people who would wear Comme des Garçons. I was just in the towns and didn’t go to the places where fashionable people gathered, but now it is much more casual. I used to enjoy seeing people wearing communist workers’ clothes and I don’t see that anymore.

WWD: How has the inspiration for your collections changed over the course of your career?

R.K.: Do you think it’s changed? For me it hasn’t changed at all. The way I approach each collection is exactly the same…the motivation has always been to create something new, something that didn’t exist before. The more experience I have and the more clothes I make, the more difficult it becomes to make something new. Once I’ve made something, I don’t want to do it again, so the breadth of possibility is becoming smaller.

WWD: Everyone is talking about how the Japanese market for retail and luxury goods is just terrible right now. Do you think that will change? Do you think there is a way to get consumers excited again?

R.K.: Now, with fast fashion, the value of creation is diminishing, and very expensive things are not interesting.

WWD: Is there any way out of that situation?

R.K.: I always think that I’d like to do something about the situation…it’s a very profound motivation…but I don’t think it’s something that can really be changed. I’m not powerful enough. There’s a closed-mindedness that prevents movement and change. I always think that I’d like to break that, and I’ve used it [this closed-mindedness] as a theme for collections, but I just can’t seem to break it. I want to wake people up, but I don’t think I succeed in doing this as much as I would like to.

WWD: You mentioned fast fashion. That’s been a huge story and obviously you had your collaboration with H&M. Would you consider doing something like that again?

R.K.: That was a special case. They were making a new store in Japan, so it was just a short, two-week relationship. It wasn’t a big thing, but I thought it was interesting because they asked me to do all the advertising and visuals as well. H&M has a very different way of thinking and a different business model, so it was interesting to see how much of a connection we could make. But in the end I realized that there wasn’t very much in common, so I don’t think I’ll do it again.

WWD: Would you consider selling it or listing it on the stock market?

R.K.: I don’t think there’s anyone who would want to buy it. I do everything on my own, so there are very few people who could do it. Do you think there’s anyone who would buy it? [Joffe interjected half-jokingly with a laugh: “We’re waiting for an offer.”]

WWD: How do you come up with a retail concept? Where do you start?

R.K.: Firstly, I want to make a shop that’s unlike any that already exists. And then, since it’s a business, we have to be able to get back the initial investment, whether it’s ours or whether it’s the partner’s, in as short a time as possible. So I don’t like to use expensive materials. I take care to make costs reasonable. It’s very similar to the way I make clothes. I give myself limits, not only financial limits but I also limit my method of expression, and from within those limits I try to come up with something new and interesting.

WWD: Are there any young designers coming up through the ranks you’re keeping your eye on?

R.K.: There are very few. There are few people who, like us, have the values and the way of thinking to really try hard. They lack discipline. And it’s not just fashion, I think…[young people] get satisfied too easily. They’re not strict enough with themselves. They’re too soft on themselves.

photos via Hypebeast and Racked

interview via Robert Cordero and WWD

Interview: Gadi Amit

The bottom line is there's no replacement for emotional connection. -Gadi Amit

Fast Company recently interviewed designer and founder of NewDealDesign, Gadi Amit, as part of their Masters of Design issue.  The interview is insightful, bold and thought provoking.  Enjoy!

Like musicians, we think through our hands," says Gadi Amit, fondling three pieces of raw wood precariously bound together with masking tape. Amit has built his 22-year career designing award-winning technology devices for brands such as Dell, Palm, and Verizon; this year, he took top honors in the International Design Excellence Awards. Yet the 47-year-old industrial designer is curiously enamored of the power of craft. "Designers here are so computer minded; I say, 'You guys have computer vertigo, go down to the shop,' " Amit says, referring to the windowless basement workshop of his San Francisco studio, NewDealDesign. "As you play and sculpt with foam and putty, you actually discover, versus a more analytical or cerebral approach. That it's ambiguous and inaccurate is a good thing."

Going analog isn't Amit's only unconventional stance. One of the brat pack spawned by Frog Design, he has become an unapologetic critic of the green-design movement. "In the sustainability crowd," Amit says, "I feel that sometimes beauty is the first thing that takes a hit." The "beauty" Amit is referring to isn't some $20,000 chair enclosed in glass at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but well-built objects so lust-worthy that people will want to hold on to them forever -- objects like his prize-winning Slingbox 700U, a media device no bigger than a piece of toast, stripped of a plastic skin in favor of waffled aluminum that is virtually 100% recyclable. "My theory," says the Israeli native, "is that beauty is a very positive, visceral force that we should harness for sustainability."

Over coffee in his studio's loft, Amit talked about how computers are like animals, whether sex appeal trumps carbon footprint, and why buying a Prius may ultimately be an irresponsible act.

Fast Company: How did you end up designing technology?

I wanted to be a car designer, but the design school I went to [in Israel] is a very traditional European-craft type of art school, very much about creating furniture. Nearly antitechnology. But in 1985, I got to know the Macintosh, and I fell in love with it. It's an intelligent object, and since then, I've only dealt with things that aren't just docile objects; they have behaviors.

Some people view technology as cold, sterile. You don't agree?

When I started playing with hard-core technology, I started to realize there is an architectural problem in putting together complex objects; like animals, they have organs. All these computers, these machines, have a brain, so you have to figure out where to put the brain, and the brain is usually next to the face, which is where you interact with people, so those are buttons and the screens. Then there's the plumbing, the digestive system, and how you organize it. Much of the work we do today is essentially deciding whether an object has a body, a head, and four limbs, or a body, a head, and no limbs. It's that fundamental.

You began your career in the Middle East but have spent most of it around Silicon Valley. You've seen a lot of shifts in design along the way.

The '90s were the roaring age of product development meets design. It was basically the first time where the wide culture, not some geek enclave, met the digital age -- the first mass distribution of cell phones, PDAs, Web appliances. The 2000s started with this nearly insane drive for all things Web. At the same time, China and Asia became a huge product-development force. Design became driven by a cult of personality, by a culture detached from delivering products for common people. The notion that some European superstar designer builds a chair that costs $20,000 has both a philosophical and a cultural richness, but it's also related directly to the social indulgence of an economy going out of control.

When the economic crisis hit, was that the end of that era?

What happened in 2008 was not just an economic meltdown, it was a social realignment. If a designer in the '70s opted to sell a chair that was a million units, a designer at the end of the '90s or early 2000s wanted to sell two chairs that became a collector's item. That ended in 2008 because the people who financed that were the guys who messed with our mortgages.

Check out the full interview here.

An Interview: Matias Corea

"To be able to really take advantage of the possibilities for communication and information transfer that exist online, you need to open your mind and start thinking about the overall systems at play." -Matias Corea

Design Droplets, an online industrial design and product design Magazine, recently interviewed Matias Corea, Co-Founder & Chief Designer at Behance.  I'm a big fan of Behance and their mission to organize the creative world through three platforms, the Behance Network, the Action Method and the 99% conference, which I had the pleasure of attending this year.  I love his call to action for designers to lead the way in which consumers get information.  Enjoy!

Matias, Welcome to Design Droplets. Thank you for taking the time to chat, could you please give a quick introduction on yourself.

My parents are Argentinean and both architects. I was born in Barcelona, where I studied graphic design. My roots are in typography and print, but I fell in love with interactive design when I started Behance with Scott Belsky. I have lived in New York City since 2002 and I feel at home here. I’m a jazz lover, and I love driving my vintage BMW motorcycle around the city.

Can you talk about your influences and personal design philosophy?

In my school years in Barcelona, electronic music was omnipresent and offered many opportunities for design – flyers, posters, branding for clubs. That was a big source of inspiration for me, as it was a medium which gave me a lot of freedom and space for exploration. After class I would do my school and freelance projects at my little desk in my father’s architecture studio. All the conversations I overheard, the models being built behind me, the shelves packed with books and the work of the architects of the modern movement really left a mark on how I see and think about design.

To me, design is about solving problems, that’s what ‘being creative’ means to me. Limitations, boundaries, barriers, obstacles. I think that happens in every single creative project, even when we do personal work.

You are the chief designer at Behance, can you give a quick overview of Behance (what it is, where it came from, why it exists etc…) and share a bit about the development of Behance from a design perspective?

Behance is a company with the mission to organize the creative world. Everything we do serves that mission. We have developed the Behance Network, the largest Creative Professional community online, to help creatives present themselves and their work. We built the Action Method, a system for productivity on paper and online, and the 99% content site and conference, to share the best practices of the most productive creative people and teams.

We believe creative people have the most ideas, the most power to affect change, but the hardest time making those ideas happen. Design can play a huge role in helping people not just generate ideas but execute them. That’s why Behance is a design-driven company, always. Our audience is creative professionals, and we believe they are more likely to use systems they are attracted to. Design is also important in terms of usability – if our mission is to organize the creative world, then everything we put forward needs to be intuitive and incredibly easy to use, so that’s always a primary goal when facing a design challenge.

You are a fantastic example of design skills being highly transferable. You trained in Graphic Design, dabbled in Architecture through your fathers architecture practice, then jumped head first into web design with no prior experience, are involved in creating the 99% conference and co-created the Action Method products (product design). What are your thoughts multidisciplinary design and design skills being transferable to any field a designer puts her or his mind to?

I think all designers should be multidisciplinary. Design to me is a way of living and thinking, it’s about solving problems. In many ways, the process across fields is almost identical when we have a problem to solve.

The biggest challenge in jumping from print to web design was to understand that websites are basically visual databases. To be able to really take advantage of the possibilities for communication and information transfer that exist online, you need to open your mind and start thinking about the overall systems at play. Growing up in my father’s architecture studio helped me understand this. By looking at the blueprints of huge hospitals and other large, complex buildings, I learned to embrace dependencies between elements and to think about the big picture, not getting caught up in the visual details before the structure and flow of the system is defined.

While Behance provides amazing platforms and tools to empower designers and others to make ideas happen, what do you think designers can do to empower themselves to make their ideas happen?

We can provide all the possible tools in the world, but it’s up to designers to decide to use them. You have to want to change the way you work. What is it they say, that admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery? Scott, my partner at Behance, recently wrote a book on this topic called Making Ideas Happen. He talks about how creatives get “addicted” to new ideas, and then when it comes to executing, they lose steam and focus.

Choose one thing and stick with it until it’s done. The best way to get there is different for everyone, you have to find the system that works for you and that you will actually use.

You love typography, what tips can you give product designers and industrial designers on using fonts on products?

There’s a subtlety to typographic work that a lot of people neglect. That’s why most people don’t even know what a typographer does for a living. Anyone can put type on a bottle or packaging but only the ones who understand typography can make it belong to the object.

I don’t think there are set rules or tricks to good typographic work, I think there should be a learning process in which you develop a feel for what works and what doesn’t. Collaboration with an experienced graphic designer is the best starting point to be able to do typographic work on your own.

Irrespective of whether its graphic, fashion or product design, in your opinion how is the web changing design?

I find it more interesting how design is changing the web. At the beginning, it was all about the tech side, the coders, the engineers. But every day we’re realizing that innovation comes as much from the designers that are trying to push the boundaries and think of different ways to use that technology. In many ways, technology is now trying to catch up with the creative uses that designers are finding for the medium.

On the other side, the web is allowing people around the globe to get more exposure, which brings to the surface better work, which ends up raising the bar across all fields in the creative industry.

How important is organization for making ideas happen?

Essential. There’s an excess of ideas and a lack of good execution. Organization helps to prioritize, and that leads to smart resource allocation, from personal energy to monetary management.

Apart from the Behance family of sites and products, what reading (online or offline) material would you recommend for designers?

For those who want to learn the basics on typography and understand where everything comes from, I recommend The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst.

And, anything that is not about design – I really believe that inspiration and growth come from stepping outside of your ‘bubble’, your comfort zone. So I would suggest reading about other things. I think that it’s also very important to travel outside of your country. It may sound like a cliche, but different cultures and landscapes really do help open your mind. Most of my best ideas come from these moments of exploration and distance.

Matias, thanks for taking the time to talk with us here at Design Droplets. Do you have any final thoughts or advice for Design Droplets readers?

We need more designers that understand the web and can push it forward. Web design is no longer about applying the corporate color palette and making it look pretty. There’s a growing need for designers to take the lead in shaping the way we get information. Designers need to realize the role the Internet will play ten years from now, and trying to jump on it then will be much harder than starting now.

An Interview: Anna Wintour

"It’s not about forcing how we choose to present our stories into the same mold. It’s about seeing how our readers interact with each medium, and what we feel each medium has to offer the reader." -Anna Wintour

Humberto Leon, one of the co-founders of Opening Ceremony, recently had the opportunity to speak with Anna Wintour.

There's something truly inspiring about discussing fashion with Anna Wintour that goes beyond her great influence. When Carol and I were invited to her office to discuss Fashion's Night Out, among other topics, we were struck by how passionate and curious she remains about the fashion world. We were surprised to find ourselves geeking out with Anna on 'Like a Prayer'-era Madonna, her iPad, lost Soho oculists, and what prompted her to put a pair of jeans on the cover of Vogue in 1988. Of course, the order of the day was Fashion's Night Out, the event she developed last year to jumpstart global retail. I think that one of the things we share with Anna is an excitement for shopping, and a belief that retail should be fun, which is why being part of the event comes second nature to Opening Ceremony. Humberto Leon: What's new for Fashion's Night Out (FNO) this year? Anna Wintour: This year we have a CBS documentary on the making of the event, and we’re staging the largest public fashion show in New York’s history with some of the world’s top models. It will be a carnival-style celebration like last year, only bigger and better, with more cities and retailers participating.

HL: We hear that Vogue is organizing a giant FNO fashion show at Lincoln Center, the new home of Fashion Week. What can we expect to see? AW: Traditionally, shows are industry events, so this is unique as we’re staging it for the consumer. Not only will shoppers preview the best trends for fall on many of the world’s most recognized models, but they will also have the opportunity to purchase those trends on Fashion’s Night Out. No matter their style or budget, anyone can translate the latest trends to suit their tastes and wardrobe.

HL: How can FNO achieve the same impact abroad as it has in NY? AW: Last year, many cities had very successful celebrations. The fact that 3 more countries have decided to join in is a testament to last year’s success. At its core, FNO is a celebration of fashion, and each city knows best how to tailor the event to suit the needs of its culture. But what’s interesting is the transactional element – stores are taking the creative initiative to draw consumers in. Each city is responsible for thinking outside the box to create that unique environment and connect shoppers with fashion on a whole different level.

HL: As a retailer, Opening Ceremony realizes that FNO is the best excuse to do something really fun, exciting, new, and fresh for our customers. Is this what you imagined for FNO? AW: Absolutely. Opening Ceremony is a great example of a retailer that knows its consumer and is responding to their interests, personalities, and shopping habits. The store is always current and exciting, so people are destined to return again and again. It is a wonderful microcosm of what we hope the world of FNO will be on Sept 10.

HL: Ignoring budget and logistics, can you describe your fantasy FNO? AW: Looking at the impressive lineup for this year, I think we are already seeing the fantasy being played out in reality.

HL: What is a change you've seen in the fashion industry since the first FNO? AW: I believe consumer confidence is being restored. People are out there shopping again without the level of guilt or concern of the previous year. Also, it’s built community amongst designers and retailers, both competitors and otherwise, and brought together all aspects of American culture and arts, which is an exciting aspect in and of itself. It’s a time of the year when fashion cities around the world are united in a cause, which is wonderful.

HL: What's your vision for FNO 10 years from now? AW: That retailers and consumers will be inventing bigger and better ideas to celebrate fashion.

HL: Do you read fashion blogs, and if so, which ones are your favorites? AW: Yes, of course. We’ve featured many bloggers in Vogue. Hanneli Mustaparta and Rachel Chandler are regular contributors to Vogue.com.

HL: How do you think fashion blogs have affected magazine content? AW: Like any evolution in the industry, they force you to become better at what you do. Vogue’s in-depth articles and beautiful fashion stories, along with coverage of the arts within a fashion context, is not something that exists in the same way on blogs. They force us to dig deeper for stories, but we’re not competitors; we serve different markets.

HL: Can photography and fashion editorials exist on the Internet? AW: Yes and they do. They are just presented in a different manner and provide more of a complementary voice to what lies in the pages of Vogue. Every medium serves a great purpose to reach our readers. It’s not about forcing how we choose to present our stories into the same mold. It’s about seeing how our readers interact with each medium, and what we feel each medium has to offer the reader.

HL: Your first Vogue cover featured jeans paired with a Christian Lacroix jacket. How did this idea, which was so revolutionary at the time, come about? Do you still take inspiration from youth culture? Is there anything happening in street style that you find interesting? AW: It was first and foremost a translation of a European aesthetic for the American consumer. It brought couture to the street and streetwear into Vogue during the era of Madonna’s Like A Prayer. It was also a recognition of the importance of personal style in fashion, which has played a role in Vogue ever since.

HL: Who do you think is New York's #1 shopper? AW: New York is a fashion-conscious city, and there are many anonymous shoppers who could claim that title.

HL: What influences your own sense of style? AW: I think style should always be an expression of an individual’s personality and tastes.

HL: What is your favorite store in New York that is no longer open? AW: There was an oculist on Prince Street that had great sunglasses and is sadly now a wine store.

HL: Do you own an iPad? AW: Yes, I do.

HL: Our FNO concept is patterned after great Parisian flea markets such as Clignancourt and Vanves. Have you ever been to any of them, and if so, what have you purchased? AW: I am usually in Paris on business and don’t make it out to the markets, but they are wonderful places with incredible history and serve an important role in the fashion industry.

HL: As you know, our country collaboration this year is with France. Would you mind sharing your favorite French spots? What are the best shopping neighborhoods/streets? AW: There are so many wonderful shopping areas in Paris. Different streets cater to different tastes, so it depends what I’m looking for.

HL: The place you most wish existed in NY? AW: I love the Place des Vosges and wish there was something like it in New York.

HL: The best hotel bar? AW: The bar at the Ritz.

HL: And finally, your favorite hidden spot? AW: If I told you it wouldn’t be hidden!

An Interview: Spike Jonze

Where-The-Wild-Things-Are

I have to admit, I'm caught up in the flurry of excitement surrounding the release of Where the Wild Things Are.  I grew up having the book read to me and then read it to my little sister years later.  It is the first book I can remember that took me through a range of emotions.   I would squeal when Max first arrived in the land of the Wild Things,  pop my head in and out of the covers in terror when the fearsome looking monsters emerged and then would cheer when Max danced with them as he is crowned king.  While the book only has nine sentences, the drawings led me into a world that was both real and surreal. I can't think of a better director than Spike Jonze to bring the story to life.

Pitchfork did a great interview with Spike Jonze that talks about how it all came together.  I particularly like when Jonze addresses the emotions and memories of a child:   "My memory is that nothing is explained to you, you've got to try to figure it out, pick up clues from the people around you, try to figure it out from their reactions. And the things that are out of control are scary-- I mean they still are, to me. But I think even more so at that age, when you really have no sense of control of your life."

Go on, read the whole interview and gear up for the release on October 16th.

where_the_wild_things_are

by Scott Plagenhoef for Pitchfork

Creating a film adaptation of a beloved work of literature is difficult enough with a novel, even a novella or short story. But how about a 10-line children's book? Spike Jonze took on that challenge in his long battle to bring Maurice Sendak's classic Where the Wild Things Are to the screen. With Sendak's encouragement, Jonze began work on the film in the early part of this decade, with the project then attached to Universal. Many years later, the film-- eventually scripted by Jonze and author/publisher Dave Eggers-- is finally being released in the U.S. via Warner Bros. on October 16.

Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are is not a children's film, which is to say it's not pandering, or cute, or repetitive, or simplistic. This is instead an art film about childhood, about the feelings and fears and needs of being young. In Jonze's hands, the film's young protagonist, Max, is the product of a broken home, with an overstretched mother, an older sister who has her own life, and a social structure that doesn't include him. These evocative early passages hint at the restlessness, the playfulness, the fright, and the untethered anger of being a child-- the needs for safety, belonging, and community, and the consequences of not getting them.

When Max flees to where the wild things are, these sensations become manifest. Already feeling adrift and unloved, he's thrust into a world populated with wild animals, where he is expected to serve as their king. This situation-- a young person being charged with caretaking, without instruction on how to do so-- draws easy parallels to Eggers' life, as detailed in the memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. The wild things themselves, rather than created with CGI, are portrayed by two sets of actors-- physical thesps in suits, and well-known actors doing voice work. As Jonze explains, this decision was to ensure that Max felt in the presence of the wild things-- "that they could hug, and yet he could be eaten at any time."

This potentially odd decision leads to a quintessential Jonze move-- Wild Things is a fantastical film shot in the director's now-familiar hyperrealist way-- even though it grew from necessity. Navigating a world in which a child needs the love and support of monsters is all too common for many kids, and Jonze's rendering of these emotional challenges and obstacles may guarantee Wild Things is neither a blockbuster nor Oscar bait but it helps retain a strong connection to Sendak's original vision. Jonze and Eggers had an almost limitless number of ways in which they could fill in this open-ended story, but rather than simply construct a narrative, they instead dig deeply into the scarred psyche of a young boy-- exploring his imagination, tapping into the heart of his anger and insecurities. It's a brave way to film a largely plot-free tale and it's also true to the spirit of the book.

After a recent screening to benefit 826 National, a collection of non-profits "dedicated to helping students, ages 6-18, with expository and creative writing," we had a brief opportunity to speak with Jonze about his new film and the long road it took to completion.

Pitchfork: I'm not sure if you were in the theater tonight. Do you enjoy watching your art with an audience?

Spike Jonze: When we put out a music video DVD [for the Director's Label series], we would do 90-minute screenings, and those were really fun. Normally when you put it out you don't get to watch different people, so that's just really fun.

Pitchfork: I was trying to think of anything in your past that had any connection to this narrative, and the one thing I could think of was your Daft Punk "Da Funk" video, because it's a mirror image opposite of Where the Wild Things Are-- one animal in a world of humans.

SJ: Yeah, I never thought about that.

Pitchfork: Obviously, the story itself comes from Maurice Sendak however: How did you end up hooking up with Maurice?

SJ: I had known him for a number of years, because he was producing another movie that didn't end up happening, but through that I got to see him as someone whose work I liked.

It was a book that he had talked to me about over the years a few times, and it was a book that I loved, and when he brought it up to me I was very excited but also very apprehensive, because it was something that I thought was so great and so perfect in its form-- What am I going to add to that? I was so apprehensive to add something just for the sake of adding it, for the sake of a movie, and not really having a reason to make it, basically. But eventually I came up with the idea that you see what you see there, and Maurice was great, he was insistent upon that taking it there.

Pitchfork: He was very generous about allowing you to create your own film?

SJ: Yeah, I really don't think we could have done it without that. I would have been too nervous to make something he wouldn't like. And I didn't want to do that.

We were really nervous with the first script, because we didn't know what he would think. He read it three times in a row. The first time he read it, he was like, "It's not like my book." And then he said, "Oh wait, I told them not to make it like my book." And then he said, "Let me read it again," and he started to be able to feel it. By the third time, he was totally detached from anything before, and was able to feel it for what it was, and he called us up and told us he wanted to do it.

He had script approval, so if he didn't like it, we just wouldn't have done it. So it was a big call to get that call from him telling us that he liked it, and good luck.

Pitchfork: How long was that gap between those readings?

SJ: He read it three times in one day.

Pitchfork: So he called you after the first reading, and said--

SJ: No, luckily he didn't call us then. He went through that process on his own and called us, and then afterward he told me.

Pitchfork: When you first started to imagine it, did you do so in more cinematic terms or narrative terms? It's virtually a picture book, and some of the power of it is that it's less a book someone would read to you as it is a book that a child can get lost in.

SJ: Well, cinematic terms. I knew I wanted it to be live action; I wanted to build the wild things for real. I wanted to be on location. I wanted it to be a real boy with real creatures, in a dangerous, unpredictable environment, where you're with wild animals. But that wasn't enough to make a movie. It was more the idea that gave me confidence that there was a movie there was that the wild creatures were wild emotions, and Max was trying to understand things that were confusing and frightening, and made him anxious-- things being out of control, and him being sort of emotionally wild himself.

Pitchfork: Did you see it as a childhood thing, in terms of the emotions, or are these more just human emotions to you? The adult relationships in the film have the same needs and fears in some ways.

SJ: The emotions I felt were true to a child, were true to what it feels like to be a kid. What the world is like from a nine-year-old's point of view. Like when you're nine, you haven't figured out how to process all this.

My memory is that nothing is explained to you, you've got to try to figure it out, pick up clues from the people around you, try to figure it out from their reactions. And the things that are out of control are scary-- I mean they still are, to me. But I think even more so at that age, when you really have no sense of control of your life.

And so the things that are really out of control, and scary, are emotions-- of people around you, that are unpredictable, or those in yourself which are unpredictable. Like having a tantrum. The thing I remember most about having a tantrum is not the rage during the tantrum, but the being freaked out afterwards, and embarrassed, and guilty. It's scary, to lose control of yourself. We wanted the movie to feel like it was made by a nine-year-old, on some levels. So like you're in the headspace of a nine-year-old, and you're in the world, you're on the island with Max, trying to understand this foreign place. It kind of feels like being a kid, you've just shown up to this place, and there's no road map to it.

Pitchfork: Were there other examples of children's art that you were looking at? Things that were sort of about childhood, rather than for a child?

SJ: It wasn't so much that we looked at them; there's things that we knew did it right, but we didn't reference them, we went back and watched them. Like The Black Stallion, that I loved, in 1981, it's beautiful. My Life as a Dog. The 400 Blows. there are a couple others, just films that feel like they're from a kid's point of view looking at the world.

Pitchfork: How did you and Dave Eggers end up working together?

SJ: Because I had known him for a few years, and I love his writing, and just like him as a person. It just felt right, it was one of those intuitive things, like, "That's who I want to write this with." Just sensibility-wise, his first book, the way he wrote about a young character. I don't know, just the way he writes, and we're very similar, we're the same age, just the way we grew up influenced and in love with Maurice's work. It wasn't even too thought out, it was just like, "That's right."

Pitchfork: Talking about your ages. Do you think there is something about this story that makes it so beloved with our generation specifically?

SJ: I'm not even sure if it's just our generation. I think it might be that if you're five years old and you read that book, you're like, "I recognize that." It's in the language of a kid, of monsters and of things being giant. And it's like when you're a kid, adults really do feel giant. Monsters are a part of your subconscious. You have even less control of your emotions than you do now. I think it's all in the book. And he is really speaking the language and what it feels like at that age.

Pitchfork: So you guys had almost an open-ended structure to build a narrative. Was all that freedom helpful, or more difficult? Did you go a lot of different routes before you got the script you wanted?

SJ: Not a lot of different routes, but we definitely wrote a lot of different drafts. We shot, and then had the footage... the way I work, I like to constantly evolve, and try to find a better way to do something; searching and seeing what else can be discovered. And so yeah, there were many things where we were like "That's an amazing idea!" and that was it for a week and then "No, no this is a better idea!"

Along the way, the things that stay are the things that really deserve to stay. I love that process, of not feeling overly pressured, "this is the movie," and some people can do that, like the Coen brothers, their movies I think they write, the script they write is very, very close to the movie they put out. And they shoot exactly what they need, you know I probably shoot about four times as much film as them. They're like, "Oh, we got it." And I'm like, "Oh, what else can we do? And what if we try it this way?"

You take that leap and you don't know exactly how it's going to turn out, but you know what it is that you're aiming for. You know your goal.