This December at Art Basel Miami Beach, the premiere art show in the United States, FriendsWithYou unveiled Rainbow City, a 40 piece environmental installation addressing the potency of interaction, ritual and play.
The installation was curated and designed by two Miami locals, Arturo Sandoval and Sam Borkson, artistic masterminds behind FriendsWithYou and co-founders of a creative agency of the same name.
Rainbow City invited spectators to enter a larger-than-life cartoon-inspired world of brightly colored, air-filled sculptures that towered over visitors at ten to forty feet high. The more than 20,000 people who visited the installation in Miami’s Design District during Art Basel 2010 were able to participate in a fun and playful responsive environment—bouncing about inside the inflatable structures, wandering in and around the dwarfing, surreal landscape—and given the opportunity to connect both physically and psychologically with the ephemeral setting.
During a visit to their studio, the artists walked us through every aspect of the creative process behind the installation—from the very first concept drawings and renderings (part of their 2D show, Building Blocks, which was also on view during Art Basel), to the fabrication of the final 3D installation. We discussed the importance of Art Basel for both artists and gallerists/creative agencies, the importance of collaboration as a source of creative motivation, as well as the sense of child-like wonder and curiosity that perpetually drives FriendsWithYou’s work.
We then spent a day with Arturo and Sam as they set up and took us on a tour of their vibrant installation. Later that same night, we caught N*E*R*D*‘s performance at Rainbow City’s opening ceremony and chatted briefly with N*E*R*D* frontman, Pharrell Williams, on his many partnerships with FriendsWithYou, who designed everything from his latest tour to the video for his single, “Hot & Fun”.
“Everything they do is so fun,” says Pharrell, “and who doesn’t like to have fun?” Truer words were never spoken.