Mike and Katie!!! How the heck are you guys... and tell me how you got involved with the folks over at Mathmos?
Hi John!! we're very well thank you, we hope you are too! We're cramming hard at the moment as we're off on our hols at the end of the month - woo!
We've actually known the guys at Mathmos for a long time now - we first worked with them back sometime around 2004 when they asked us to jump onboard and work with them on a space projector project. We've kept in touch and worked on a few other bits over the past few years, we love working with them and its’ a great team to be having fun with.
It's gotta be said that Mathmos invented the Lava Lamp over 50 years ago... that's just nuts, and now you both had the privilege of working with them on this new project called "Chuppi"... that's got to be pretty special!
We're extremely proud to work with such a famous British brand, especially one that is so innovative and with such an iconic history and product. We both had Lava Lamps in the past, and the name is as famous as the lamps themselves. Visiting the studio in London is great, they have all kinds of cool stuff to look at and fun dogs to play with too. Chuppi is definitely something a little different to the original Mathmos Lava Lamps and an exciting way for a whole new audience to have some fun with lighting.
So tell me about "Chuppi", what is the name derived from?
Haha, we're afraid we have no idea where the name comes from. We seem to have a strange sub-concious urge to name things with a 'CH' phonetic. Choop, Puchoo, Chupoo, and now Chuppi... We're sure there’s something to be read into there, we're just not sure what! The truth of it is that it’s just a cute word and it seemed to suit him just fine!
These little guys/gals feature a humanoid figure with a large head sitting with its arms wrapped around its knees... what made you decide on such a figure/shape, and was the design completely up to you both or did Mathmos give some direction?
We worked very closely with the guys at Mathmos to come up with the figure. We began by providing them with a bunch of very rough character sketches and poses - everything from totally abstract lava-like blobs to ghosts, octopods and some very organic looking things too. We all played around with the shapes and concepts until a clear idea of the character and what we wanted it to do began to come about. It was decided that its primary purpose should be a night light but also something that both kids and adults alike could customize and make into something unique. We really liked the idea of a 4 year old being just as able to have just as much fun with a Chuppi & the re-usable stickers as an adult could with a posca or sharpie. For the character itself we used the nightlight companion as a theme and decided to create a stoic little spirit character who would sit patiently by the bedside until morning.
"Chuppi" is being marketed and defined as an art toy, tell me how this definition is supported? How is it an art toy?
We think Chuppi is an art toy in that it's intended to be something people can have fun with and get creative with, even if they don’t feel they have the confidence or inclination to pick up a pen or paintbrush.
We hope that Chuppi isn’t just an art toy, but something fun and different that will appeal to both collectors, customisers and the general public as something that presents a nicely designed nightlight and also a customisable platform that has an added twist.
I found out that this little guy comes blank, along with some sticker sheets that feature all kinds of fun, reusable, designs that you both created... that had to have been a blast. Do you guys have plans on creating more sticker designs for even more character combinations?
Yes! In fact the first batch of limited edition sheets are already being printed. We had a lot of fun messing around with all the different combinations and there’s certainly no rules when it comes to mixing things up - it would be a great opportunity to get other artists and designers onboard in the future to do some brilliant collaborations.
“Chuppi" also comes with a fully rechargeable battery and an internal LED unit allowing for him to glow all kinds of awesome colors. Is this the first time you have designed with LED lights in mind, and was it a different process all together from other designer figures you have created in the past?
Yeah, of course there were a couple of technical considerations like housing the chunky battery unit and making sure his little butt could park down on his base station properly. The kind of plastic and the large dome head were also intended to diffuse the light nicely. One thing we hadn't accounted for was the amusing way the color changing could add further personality to the little guy when he's stickered up with different expressions! The glowing colors are very rich and can make him change from very calm and happy looking to a little red ball of fury!
Are you guys planning on customizing any of these for your fans out there to pick up?
We're currently working on a special edition of 10 customized Chuppis that will be going out as give-aways and prizes to help promote the little chap. We're certainly going to be playing around a lot with our gang of Chuppis too so we expect that the may make an appearance in a future show or perhaps something fun for the UK ToyCon next year!
Congrats on such a cool collaboration and what can we look forward to in the future from TADO... any big plans for 2012, or better yet, are you planning on doing other projects with Mathmos?
Thank you very much indeed - we're just chuffed to bits the Mathmos guys invited us to get in on the fun! We've already been chatting with Mathmos about where to take Chuppi next and have several exciting ideas for the future in terms of the character and lighting ideas. 2012 is shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for us. We've had a very busy start but we're finally getting moved into our new studio and we're off to Japan and Hong Kong for some adventuring at the end of this month. Woo!
Work-wise, we always forget what we've got coming up in terms of personal projects, but we know that the Autumn / Winter 2012 Gola by TADO range is probably our favorite one yet, and we've been working with Lucas (Star Wars) and the guys at 2000AD on some really exciting stuff that should start to surface before the end of the year. We've been planning lots of fun things with the guys at Creo Design and Together Plus as well so hopefully we'll be showing more sneak peeks of toy projects soon as well as some more self-produced stuff. We're very excited about the first UK Toy Con that will be happening early next year so we're hoping to push the boat out a bit for that one and make some really fun bits.
This year is also our (well, TADO's) 10th anniversary so we should probably mark the occasion by doing something extravagant and exciting... but we'll probably just settle for a week off spent in the garden and watching Man Vs Food instead.
Sounds awesome guys, and I look forward to much more TADO in 2012!!! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, and keep on grinding!
I would like to personally say a huge thanks to Mike and Katie for taking the time out of their busy schedule to answer these questions, a very big thank you to Emma aka Miss Cakehead for setting all of this up - you rock - and to MATHMOS for creating such a fun, unique, and universal product... which can be purchased right HERE now for just $50 a pop!