Mogollon is Spanish slang for “a lot”, but the work coming from Francisco Lopez and Monica Brand’s studio is never too much, effortlessly capturing the qualities of imagination and new-age whimsy in everything they produce. After only a short visit, it was clear that their success stems from staying true to themselves and following their instincts, which for many artists is easier said than done. In the case of Mogollon, authenticity seems to come naturally.
I had the opportunity to visit their studio in Greenpoint and fell in love with their spirit, as well as the ethereal space they share. Each trinket, plant, or metallic accent seemed to be placed intentionally to keep the energy flowing. And flow it did.
Our journey begins after the jump.
-Cristina Galie, L/L
Being entwined in such a way as you are, what came first? Admiration of one another’s talent, or personality?
Personality; we found that we had many things in common, we shared a lot of the same interests and heroes, so we became good friends before talking about collaborating together.
Which parts of each other do you try to emulate in your personal creative process? How and when did you decide you wanted to become partners?
Our first project together was in 2004; we made a video piece documenting the building of an architectural installation at PS1/MoMA. While working on this project we realized that we worked very well together and that when we joined our skills and ideas the results where so much more powerful than when we worked individually. The day that we showed the final video to the then Deputy Director of PS1/MoMA, Brett Littman, he suggested that we should continue working together as a team. We took his word and decided to start an art direction studio where we could do not only video work but also design, editorial work, etc. We decided to call the studio Mogollon which is a spanish slang word used to signify “a lot”.
When young designers come into their own, they tend to face this battle between wanting to reflect their individual tastes and respecting their instincts, versus wanting to stay relevant and current. There’s a unique, dream-like quality to your aesthetic that’s a trifecta of playful, personal, but timeless. How did you achieve this balance?
We try to avoid to look too much into what is current because when we’ve done that our original instincts get diluted and the resulting work is never as good. We trust that what we do can be appreciated for what it is and not because it’s part of a trend. The timeless aspect of our work might be the result of all the inspiration that we take from the past or from very distinct styles. For example we might be thinking a lot about designs of the Deco era and at the same time be obsessed with the work of some Japanese animé artists and the colors of a specific film from the 60’s and all of that becomes some way or another part of the work that we do; not literally but in essence. So in that sense, when looking at our work, you might feel that there is something familiar or timeless about it but you can’t quite put your finger on what that is.
What would you tell someone who is struggling with their own design philosophy?
To try to find what is that motived them to be designers in the first place. What excites them or what makes them feel passionate about it. Then to work towards connecting with that passion in everything that they create.
When it comes to designing album artwork for a musician, which kind of projects to you tend to enjoy the most?
The best projects are those where the communication with the artist is very easy and fluid. We love when artists come to us with specific references and inspiration while remaining open to our input and ideas. That collaborative aspect of working with an artist is very gratifying.
As a duo that appreciates the combining of images, what is your opinion on the blurring of lines between what artists are now capable of in terms of motion graphics, directing, design, and photography? It’s expected that designers nowadays be able to blend these elements, and given that you already work in a multitude of mediums, where do you see your future?
We love that we don’t have to reduce our services to one specialty in order to be taken seriously. Nowadays is all about creatively expressing your ideas no matter the medium. The era of specialty is over; a painter can decide to make a narrative film and he wont be judge for it. We love this time of multiplicity. We have way too many interests to try to limit ourselves to only one thing. We want to keep expanding our work; we’d love to make sets, design decorative objects, do films… we feel our ideas can be materialized in any shape or form.
What is one thing from home you wish you could get in New York?
The “Batidos” or natural juices; for some reason they never taste as good here as they do in Venezuela.
Name three muses you look to for inspiration in your designs.
Eiko Ishioka, Monica Vitti and Kate Bush.
Does music or silence make for a better studio soundtrack? Who gets to DJ, and what do you find yourself repeating again and again?
Always music. Francisco is usually the dj. Currently we are listening to Cocteau Twin pretty much every day.
Serge Lutens and Guy Bourdin ask you to join Mogollon but unfortunately, there’s only room for one. Who makes the cut?
We would ask Guy Bourdin to join the team because he is a genius idea maker whereas Serge Lutens is more of an artist with a very specific style. We would still ask Serge Lutens if we could be his friends and if he would allow us to hang out with him.
Brooklyn is better/worse than Manhattan because:
Our neighborhood feels like a little town within a big city. We like that feeling.
The best part about finishing a job is:
When you see it materialized.