The invisible hand of capitalism works in mysterious ways, its methods and motivations are far beyond the average humanâ€™s comprehension. For example, not many people know that it was actually the pornography industry which decided the outcome of the VHS vs. BETA war, a battle of products in which somehow the inferior option was able to overcome the laws of competition. The pornographers, for whatever reason, chose VHS, consequently the consumer was forced to support a product which caused 30% more pollution than its rival. Porn, pollution, politics, think about it. Around the same time that betamax was being buried, the world famous Andy Warhol was hanging out with the neo-expressionists, primarily Basquiat; who spent most of his days painting images of skeletons and graffiti.
That was almost twenty years ago. Since then, the world has seen a host of new distribution systems through which a consumer can experience â€œart.â€ The evolution of these systems was only made possible through the destruction of the previous design, a system that was born from an exclusionist, aristocratic background. This sea change doesnâ€™t necessarily have a direct connection to Warholâ€™s soup cans, but itâ€™s easy to see the semblance with two decades hindsight. The coinciding rise of consumer power, which has caused pop culture to fracture, localize and personalize (e.g. NIKE ID) has done away with the top down distribution method in which a corrupt intellegencia is able to control the aesthetics that dominate our mainframe. Case in point: back in the 16th century, a king would commission a painting and keep it locked up in his castle, but through the division of labour and ever-mounting Asian trade deficits (watch Beijing blow up the spot in 2008), items like cheap aerosol paint cans make it possible for the street artist to reverse the capital flows that tend to keep our pockets as tight as our over-priced sneaks.
So we have at last reached the climax of this whole amazing process of ongoing Cultural Revolution: artist-designed pillows. Comfortable, stylish, fresh and cool. With the advent of this new trend, even service industry employees can now enjoy pleasures which were once only afforded to royalty. One company in particular has made some noise and stepped up to speed up the democratization of our living space: Upper Playground. Traditionally known for their street wear line, theyâ€™ve recently done a series of pillows with artists such as Sam Flores, David Choe and Jeremy Fish. Format recently talked to Upper Playground CEO Matt Revelli and Mr. Fish on the topic of all things pillowy:
Format: Why pillows? Why now?
Matt: We wanted to merge the designâ€™s backbone of the company into a different realm, which is lifestyle.
Format: Does coming up with a pillow design require a different approach than an article of clothing?
Matt: Itâ€™s a little different because pillows can be set on a cheap futon or a thousand dollar couch. The designs have to be able to transcend that spectrum, not just look good on t-shirts.
Format: Who do you think is buying these pillows and why?
Matt: Everyone from students who may not have a lot of money to rich art collectors because they are a step up from rocking your favorite artistâ€™s design on a t-shirt, but not as big of a commitment as buying an expensive piece of original art. The innovative and modern designs appeal to both men and women, and are a great way for people to decorate their homes with their favorite artists work.
Format: Do you foresee a revolution in interior furnishing occurring anytime soon?
Matt: Yes, because I think people are over the Ikea phase; theyâ€™re starting to look for more unique items to decorate their homes.
Format: What kind of activities/lifestyle does Upper Playground hope its pillows will promote?
Matt: Sleep, lying back, whatever you want.
Format: I see these as basically being living room pillows, and seeing as good living room design is integral to a healthy social life, does Upper Playground have any tips for the heads out there who don’t know how to organize their space?
Matt: To each his own, but getting rid of clutter is a good start. Simplify your living conditions.
Format: Are any of these pillows made with the intent of becoming couch/bed-related media? For example, David Choe’s “dry humping” pillow seems to reflect the reality of what sometimes occurs on a couch or a bed.
Matt: We donâ€™t intentionally focus the design around where we think the pillows will be used. These pillows are for wherever the consumer likes.
Format: What’s next? Blankets? Quilts?
Matt: We are in the planning stages of possibly doing a line of quilts, but there are no details at this time.
Format: What makes a good pillow?
Jeremy: It shouldnâ€™t be made out of wood, glass, or stone.
Format: Why does pillow design interest you?
Jeremy: Pillows are important to me because at one time when I was a young man, I was a ranking amateur nap taker. I was sponsored by a pillow company. I am really versed in what makes a pillow good for a nap.
Format: Pillows were really popular in ancient Egypt and China, but are less important in modern Western civilization, why do you think that is?
Jeremy: Here in modern society we have better luxury items, like crack.
Format: Your pillows seem to evoke the logic of dreams, how do you think sleeping on one of them might affect someone?
Jeremy: I had my team of design gnomes help me install some magic dream dust into each pillow. If the dust works correctly, all women who sleep on those pillows have an uncontrollable urge to sleep with me, the unofficial nap king of 1996.
Format: I had a dream once that featured a tiger and a crocodile fighting in outer space, whatâ€™s the weirdest dream you’ve ever had?
Jeremy: The weirdest dream I ever had has been my life. I knew what I wanted and did it till it was done, I have been living my life as a dream since day one.
Format: Do you have any plans for something like a 3-D skull pillow or pink bunny body pillow?
Jeremy: No, currently my gnome team and I are doing research and development on a pair of boob pillows. Thatâ€™s really the future of competitive napping right there.