A Perron-Roettinger, the multidisciplinary studio formed by Willo Perron and Brian Roettinger, do not like to be pigeonholed as the designers of superstars, but it is undeniable that they have sculpted pop culture: the tours of singers like Rihanna, Jay Z or Tame Impala, the stores by Kim Kardashian, Adidas and Kanye West, the Fenty or Alexander Wang shows, the album covers of The Florence + The Machine or Mark Ronson, the catalog of the most important Yoshitomo Nara exhibition in the USA… From the collaboration with these artists, fonts emerge, packagings, campaigns, interior design, furniture and ingenious creations such as a flying Ferrari or a 3D basketball court.
“For us the most important thing is to risk and experiment, we are fortunate to choose projects. The fundamental thing is not working with famous people – in fact, many of our works are for small companies and only 70% of our creations are for the music sector – the essential thing is that we have space to innovate “, explains Brian Roettinger , designer and two-time Grammy nominee.
In order not to see their art reduced to the world of celebrity, the duo often shy away from interviews: that they have awarded one to ICON Design by Zoom is highly unusual. “The advantage of working with artists is the great diffusion to which they expose you, and the disadvantage is precisely that same exposure. For us it is essential to ignore criticism and digital noise, it is the secret of our iconoclasm, ”says Perron. For this reason, despite accumulating anecdotes, they bet on discretion: “The anecdote is that we have no anecdotes,” they add.
About Kanye West, whom they know well after more than 15 years of working together (they are the authors of Yeezy Studio, the showroom where the prototypes of the crazy slippers and the fanciful prefabricated houses inspired by the Tattooine of The galaxy wars), they assure that he is a permeable and inspiring visionary, aware of all the trends and whose passion for risk puts him in the eye of the hurricane many times due to a devouring system that seeks scandal in the thousands of news that it they feed every second. “They judge him all the time, because people love gossip.” Both believe that only artists with complex characters sign beautiful works. “To work with celebrities, you have to accept that we all have ego”, they specify.
Even in the beginning, Roettinger and Perron accumulated years of experience separately. “I started out as a graphic designer, then in clothes and shoes and, shortly after, in interiors, an industry that led me to concert scenography. I loved Brian’s works – he designed for bands indie– and our first collaboration was the concept of Magna Carta, de Jay-Z ”Explains Willo. Since then they have diversified so much that 14 people work in their studio located in Los Angeles. “Only a team can build a dream. We usually work on 15 projects at the same time, ”says Perron, whose work focuses on interior and live design.
“My role is more related to graphic design, branding and the packaging, but many times we switch roles, “says Roettinger. His inspiration is the German Bauhaus school that Walter Gropius created in 1919: “We are convinced by its methodology, total art. That is to say, the intermingling of disciplines such as dance, architecture or industrial design and, above all, their desire to sign avant-garde works for the masses: like the Bauhaus we like to break conventions and integrate the cultural into the commercial ”, Roettinger account.
They are both fond of tracking down old posters at fairs, for example, the cover of St Vincent is based on a Cramps poster (“Poison Ivy is a bit of a Beetlejuice,” says Perron). With the aim of updating the psychedelic aesthetics and “not looking like a Tye-Dye shirt”, for the Tame Impala tour they delved into science fiction and, especially, alien movies. “Our mission is not to be referential, but to create a new syntax, we don’t like to sacrifice our avant-garde impulses. Also, we think that only risky things really like it, ”insists Roettinger.
The inflatable, yellow and flying Ferrari of Drake’s tour, the theatrical staging of Lady Gaga’s concerts, the escheriana and disturbing catwalk of Fenty x Savage …, from his imagination, wild inventions emerge like his latest premiere: Skims, the pop-up store of the Kim Kardashian underwear brand opened in the famous The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles on April 7. “It took us a couple of weeks to come up with it, and it was built in one night – the idea was to mimic the feel of underwear. In Skims they have nine colors that reproduce the skin tone, the store is the average color of the collection. The cover is made of molded glass and the interior is made of plywood ”, explains Perron. The result is a warm and shiny cube, very suggestive, soft and carnal as it has no corners.
In Los Angeles, Fleur du Mal – a year late due to covid-19 – was recently inaugurated, another underwear store whose aim is to become a cultural magnet: parties, educational workshops with experts, champagne tastings … the unfortunate disappearance in the cities of public spaces, private ones assume some of their functions. “That’s how it is. For example, we saw how customers queuing to buy at Skims took the opportunity to meet each other while they waited. In addition, the consumer can already buy onlineTherefore, the store is transformed into an experiential space for socialization and for exhibition or learning. Apple’s hybrid model, where you can learn how to use an iPhone in a workshop and pick up a computer that you have ordered online, is imposed. Our goal with stores like Fleur du Mal is to create an intimate, immersive environment, ”explains Perron.
Its multidisciplinary nature, its capacity for analysis and adaptation are the keys to a study that, although it shies away from the spotlight, has not been able to avoid becoming a benchmark in the sector.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.