We visited Phoebe and Peter at their light-filled home and studio on the Bushwick, Brooklyn/Ridgewood, Queens frontier to talk about comedy, controversy and of course, Private Parts.
We've been enamored of Cold Picnic since practically forever. They haven't exactly been around forever (as you can surely tell by the youthful faces of the brand's designer-founders, Phoebe Sung and Peter Buer), but it certainly seems like we lived in a different domestic reality in the dark days before the debut of their revolutionary "Private Parts" rugs. It's fairly commonplace for our customers to get mega excited over a hot sneaker, a new handbag, or any number of other fashion drops, but, rugs? They're usually greeted with love that's a little more lukewarm. Not so for Cold Picnic: their first shipment a few years ago sold out in record time, and they've kept the imaginative, whimsical designs coming ever since.
Our first factory called us up once early on in the sampling process to go over the colors, and he was referring to the designs as “the one with the martini glass” (the muff) or the “eggs” (tonal boobs).
Phoebe: The Kiss was part of our "Interiors:1974" collection, which was influenced by a handful of Rainer Werner Fassbinder films we were watching at the time. It was a new direction for us, as our previous rug collections had all been landscape-based. In contrast, the Fassbinder films we looked at were a little claustrophobic: a lot of tight interior shots of closeups of the characters faces. The Kiss was based directly on one of these closeups, from the film "Fear of Fear". It’s probably our most romantic and glamorous looking design, but the film was actually about a housewife who is going crazy.
Peter: Whenever we design a new collection, we take a few days and get down any designs we can, in any way we can. This can mean drawing through the computer, or sketching, or painting or collage. Talking Rocks was one of the designs that came through messing around with construction paper from the dollar store across from our apartment. There were a handful of other designs we made that looked almost just like it, but Talking Rocks was the one that worked. We didn’t change the design at all, and even the colors were just the colors available to us at the time.
Both: We always think of the Private Parts collection as something that forced its way into our lives. For a long time, whenever we sat down to design, we’d end up throwing out so many designs—this one looks like boobs, or that one is too phallic. Because of the way we work, we tend to get carried away and we definitely got a little over sensitive, to the point where we felt boxed in. Everything was so dirty! Then we had a sort of epiphany and realized that sometimes the work you make is trying to tell you something and this was one of those times, that we should embrace these designs instead of running from them.
The Tonal Boobs were the most in line with the sorts of designs we were avoiding at that time, though we changed it to make it more obvious. Then we designed the Torso so there was no mistaking what we were doing.