Just over a month ago on the night of storm Nemo, I was singing my heart out at the Glamour Cats Karaoke party, which I co-hosted with Phil Oh. Garance Dore and I belted out No Doubt's Don't Speak as I tapped into my inner Hong Kong roots, unable to deny that I actually enjoy karaoke hugely. So engrossed was I in the chunky song books that I didn't even notice the brilliant set-up of the Glamour Cats pop-up store, where a giant black cat with twinkling yellow emerged from fronds of foil on the wall. This was the work of Confetti System, who made their presence known when they presented me with the perfect final touch to my Nemo night of karaoke – a bling-da-bling gold foil rope necklace – light as a feather, but packs a punch on the visual front. Should someone have seen me from an an aerial view, making a snow angel on W. Broadway in the middle of the night (ill-advised I might add…), that necklace would have outshone the rest of my shivering body.
Confetti System is made up of Nicholas Andersen and Julie Ho, friends who came together over their mutual love of celebratory paper goods and the desire to create fantastical party environments. Alongside their prop styling day jobs, they started creating a series of objects, which included geometric pi√±atas and tasseled blindfolds as well as decorating their friends' parties and gigs. Through word of mouth, their confetti love soon spread to installations and sets created for the likes of Opening Ceremony, Lanvin, United Bamboo and J. Crew. Never veering too far away from the simple and accessible materials that they have always loved, their work now spans the fields of set design, visual merchandising, art direction, editorials and any other areas where paper and fashion can come together in a meaningful way.
I took a peek at their studio in Chinatown and was struck by the happiness-inducing blend of colours and materials, which run riot in this compact space. How much tissue paper do the pair get through in a year? There's no definite answer but it's a good few thousand sheets, put to use through garlands, tassels, branches, pi√±atas, streamers, concertina folded diamonds and of course confetti. Their accumulation of knick knacks is the result of Nicholas' Hawaiian upbringing and Julie' Taiwanese Chinese background – ever-present memories of leis, lanterns and lucky envelopes, which is so very apparent in their work.
The duo are seemingly in disbelief as to how making confetti and paper garlands could somehow beget them a business, working within a fashion parameter but when you look at their projects for clients, it feels like the possibilities are still endless. Be it in windows, magazine editorials or show sets, their arrangement of their square cut pieces of foil, cardboard and tissue paper can have wildly different outcomes, all of which carry the consistent language of Confetti System. "The limitation is fun because you have to push and strive for what's new," says Nicholas. "It creates this nice parameter," adds Julie. "It's like, you have this one sheet of metallic foil and what can you do with it?"
Their latest installation at the MoMA PS1 space, by far their largest scale work yet, is an indication that Confetti System still has so many potential fields to break into. Opera or theatre set work is one possiblity. Another ambition is to create a Confetti System-filtered outdoor space for children, which I can only imagine would be a vastly visually stimulating playground.
In an organic manner, they have always had wearable items as part of Confetti System such as the aforementioned foil necklaces and the leather twisted necklaces, which were in their first series of objects. They sell these on their webstore alongside tassel garlands and pinatas, as the tangible products of their creative output. Having immersed myself in the Confetti System world, it'd be hard not to inject their language into nuovo casa Bubble (I know I said I'd be moving soon – so, apparently solicitors SUCK and estate agents are RUBBISH). I'm certain that I'll be adorning the walls with Confetti System's well-judged garlands and pretending like there's a permanent children's birthday party going on.