Friday, August 22, 2008

Interview - Pandarosa

Rich Text - group exhibition @ RMIT, Melbourne 2007

above 3 images - JR Duty Free shop, interior graphics
JR Duty Free - graphics

above 5 images - Farina Kitchen and Bar, Adelaide (large-scale wall graphics, identity and menu graphics etc)

I have learnt many things this week. I have learnt that's somehow it's easier to keep on top of blog-related obligations when you're working fulltime, than when you have a whole week off (go figure?).

I have also learnt about the incredible Pandarosa. The enigmatic Pandas sent me a very mysterious email with some examples of their work - I was instantly smitten (and baffled as to how they had slipped under my radar all this time)... so it seemed an interview was in order.

Pandarosa are a Melbourne-based creative duo, otherwise known as Ariel Aguilera and Andrea Benyi. Ariel and Andrea originally come from Chile and Hungary respectively, and (via Monash Uni) have joined forces in Melbourne to form a unique artistic collaboration. Their work spans illustration, fine art, animation, commercial interior design and installation... Their body of work is INCREDIBLE and - I hate to use this term as if its some kind of benchmark for Australian design - but their style is unmistakably international, and their execution truly world class. Yeah, you heard me.

The people from Hotel Fox in Denmark seemed to think so too. (Not to mention Artichoke Magazine, Tokion, Frame, Volkswagon, Puma, Euroluce, Fairfax... and on and on).

I could go on but pictures speak better than words... so please read the interview and enjoy the beautiful work of Pandarosa.

Tell me a little about your backgrounds – what path led you to what you’re doing now?

Shortly after graduating from Monash University we decided to start our own practice. This came after a 6-month stint of going to interviews, presenting our graduate folios & being told we were too ‘arty’ or too ‘creative’?

From the beginning of the practise we made a conscious decision to target ‘creative/ artistic’ industries (festivals, galleries, dance and theatre companies, and various others). As we felt they were a unique niche sector, which wasn’t getting appropriate visual representation at the time. We obviously knew this clientele wasn’t going to bring in the big money but we were happy to trade finance for creative control over the projects.

The early days were tough, cold calling people, sending promos, and working many other jobs, but slowly we began to get a response from the ‘cultural’ sector & began doing various projects for galleries, theatre companies, photographers & the independent music industry.

Actually during his time in Melbourne, Ed Fella contacted us out of the blue to tell us how much he loved a poster he’d seen, which we created for a friend’s band. He later visited us at our studio & told us his story. Things like that made those early ‘more creativity, less money’ days all worth it.

The rest as they say, is HIStory.

Custom ceiling graphics for Fat in Brunswick st. Fitzroy

It seems you have been exhibiting together as Pandarosa since about 2005 (is this correct?). How did this ongoing collaboration come about? What challenges have you faced in setting up and running your own creative business?

Actually we had our first exhibition back in 2001 @ the Platform Artists Inc. space under the old Spencer St Station (before its was re-named ‘Southern Cross’).

This side of our practice (exhibiting) is something that has evolved quite organically, due to the work we did for galleries, theatre, dance groups & collectives in the early days of the studio. They opened doors & opportunities in which people offered us exhibition spaces. One of the most memorable exhibitions was when Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces asked us to take over the main gallery, as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival back in 2004.

The challenges with setting up your creative business R many, but probably the biggest is clear communication, not only with clients and collaborators, but also with each other. Apart from that there’s the usual timelines, budgets & amount of education you sometimes have to go through with some clients regarding the design process.

Temporary window installation for Space Furniture in Richmond

Where do you turn for inspiration – books, magazines or the web? Do you pay attention to trends in the broader design world like fashion, film, etc?

Those things definitely help but in our case we seem to pay more attention to things like drying leaves during autumn, reflections in water, cloud formations, wild life documentaries, sculpture, architecture…

Don’t get us wrong we still spends a ridiculous amount of time checking out blogs and forums on the net for inspiration, but at the same time we’re the type to wake up in the middle of the night because a mosquito is annoying us, get rid of it & then stay up taking photos of the amazing full moon night sky view from our bedroom window instead of going back to sleep.

We don’t think (or we’d like not to) that we pay attention to trends as much as innovative aspects within the broader design world. U know people who R trying to push the envelope & make something unique, not necessarily new, just different.

Custom graphics for Haworth Furniture showroom

Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?

I always hate this question, as there is no way we could possibly mention every1 we R inspired by:

Here goes a list in no preference order whatsoever:

Dadaism, Egon Schiele, Radiohead, The Whitest Boy Alive, Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Audrey Beardsley, Miranda July, Stefan Sagmeister, Phantom Research Foundation, Speto, Friends With You, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus, Thelonious Monk, The Bad Plus, Dj Krush, One Self, Swoon, Black Star, Gilberto Gil, Fela Kuti, Pavel Klushantsev, René Laloux's Planete Sauvage, & many others.

Hotel Fox (Denmark) - exterior

Hotel Fox (Denmark) - Lobby interior installation

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Coffee, email check to make sure there is no disasters which need fixing around 10am, music on the record player shortly after, get our ‘to-do’ list out of the way & if the day is sunny, a bike ride down to the river.

What are you most proud of professionally?

The fact that we are still here creating & that people appreciate what we love to do.

What's the best thing about your job?

The freedom to set your own schedule.

P&A, Box Arts Space exhibition 2006, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

And the worst?

The long hours that comes with that schedule.


What would be your dream project?

One that gives us lots of variety and creative freedom
Unlimited creativity and unlimited budget

What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?

To listen more, understand better, communicate clearer & drink more water.

Art Trail

Melbourne Questions –

Best gallery to discover interesting new artwork/illustration in Melbourne?

A bit of a self-promotion here but our illustration agency ‘the jacky winter’ have just opened ‘Lamington drive’ a new gallery representing Australia’s best illustrators.
89 George St, Fitzroy
Go check it out for birds (& Pandas) of all types!!

What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

The wonderful ‘spicy lamb’ borek @ Victoria markets for $2.50!!

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Riding our bikes on the way to the flea markets in the hope of finding some more bikes!!

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

Not sure if it’s a secret, but I believe St Jerome’s is still doing $2 soy Lattes!!

above 3 images - The World of Two Nocturnal Pandas, Helium Cowboy Artspace 2008, Hamburg, Germany

Pandarosa are represented by Illustration agents Jacky Winter - you can view more of their work on the Jacky Winter website.


  1. What an amazing and inspiring interview!! I love their work and thanks soo much for introducing them!! Great stuff!

  2. Love this work! And I think it's great that the shops and businesses of Melbourne have embraced it on their walls. Sydney is all too often conversative when it comes to taking chances with interiors... And, yes, Lucy, I am crazy still blogging but it's kind of keeping me sane, if that makes any sense!

  3. Wow, what amazing spaces they've created. That's my dream job!! Employ me - I'll work for coffee dregs!

  4. Ace interview Lucy!
    Yay for Pandarosa! What clever dickie birds. Love from one of you kindred jacky winter sisters x o x madeleine

  5. Jenny, Natalie W, Natalie 2(!) and Madeleine thanks so much for all your lovely comments! :) I am always so happy when people leave an encouraging word or two!

    I'm glad this work has struck a chord with so many of you... it really grabbed me too! Such brave, bold designs. Love it x

  6. I don't know why I have never seen your blog before ... now I am hooked though! Great to see an Aussie blog that is heavy on the design, I just love it ... and by the way, you have my all time dream job xxx

  7. Hi Emma thanks so much for your lovely comment! I have just been browsing your site too - so many gorgeous photos to sift through! :) beautiful stuff.

    My job sounds way more exciting than it really is..! I do love it but don't worry it has its fair share of downsides too! Like... scrubbing studio floors, lifting heavy things in and out of trucks all the time... not knowing where your next pay cheque is coming from..! the life of a freelancer!

  8. Hey thanks for the comment Anne. I can't believe I had never heard of these guys until recently... goes to show there's always something new to discover - even in your own town :)

    Hey I have been meaning to congratulate you on the Melbourne Design Guide over at D*S - you did such a great job! It was so thorough and exhaustive! well done :) x

  9. one of the best things in my life is to have the chance to get to know one of them ..Lord!!such a long lasting inspiration for arty crafty designers!
    God Bless!