Perks and Mini (P.A.M.) is the Melbourne based brand established in 2000 by husband and wife Misha Hollenbach and Shauna Toohey. Encompassing everything from T-shirts to soup, it has amassed a huge cult following internationally. We speak to Misha about their new clothing collection ‘Carpets and Rugs in Sport’ and the creative thinking behind P.A.M.
Dazed Digital: What’s behind the name Perks and Mini?
Perks and Mini: Perks and Mini were the graffiti aliases Shauna and I used on our first 'date'. We met up, painted P.A.M. (Perks And Mini) as there wasn't enough space for both our names, kissed, and eloped to Mexico.
DD: Your new clothing collection ‘Carpets and Rugs in Sport’ draws on a wide range of inspirations such as ceremony, religion and sport, what initiated that idea?
Perks and Mini: These inspirations are common in our (and many others) everyday lives. Although we don't subscribe to organised sport or religion, the pursuit of spiritual and physical activity is integral to (our) human life, no matter in what capacity or style.There's no direct influence from major religions, nor major sports: it's left handed yoga balance on skateboards, and goat worship through water bearing, incense and mind alteration.
DD: What were the visual ideas behind your collection video and why did you decide to make a film?
Perks and Mini: See above, but we definitely paid homage to a wonderful Armenian director Parajanov, whose films landed him in jail for religious reasons. There are objects in the video that are used in rituals and are taken from our own home, things we surround and decorate our lives with; Memphis Milano objects used alongside iphones, bananas, antique snuff boxes, (real) tribal rugs etc. All these objects have a feeling of mysticism for us, and thus using them in ritual give them magic power; fetishes. These things also give inspiration to the collection, and the things we make. Since P.A.M.'s inception in 2000 we have often explored film to express our ideas - see www.perksandmini.com
DD: How did you turn those visuals into wearable designs?
Perks and Mini: These objects give us feelings. It's these feelings we try and harness and pass on through what we make. A magical carpet can become a sweater or bag, a pipe can inform a pair of socks, etc.
DD: You’re a successful artist yourself and have exhibited internationally, where do begin to draw inspiration for P.A.M. and how do you separate that from your personal artwork?
Perks and Mini: Whatever inspires me, enriches my life. It's very personal. So many things I taste, hear, see, make my personal journey wonderful, and it's these things which I want to share with others. Producing books for instance, of someone's work that I love is a sharing exercise as with DJing. We are sharing a fellow human's vision, one we think is a (small) triumph for mankind. This is a very direct response.
Making artwork however, and also making clothing through P.A.M., is different method of using inspiration. We never use direct reference to anything, unless it is very much a homage. I suppose taking feelings from, rather than inspiration from is what it's about. It is an easy for me to distinguish between what will end up on clothes, and what will become a sculpture.
Art for me is becoming increasingly about making beauty with the actual materials, and less about the image. This means working with paint or clay, and although a Parajanov film would have had a profound impact, any direct reference wouldn’t prevail, the artwork would be drawing from the feeling, and then furthermore melded with the feelings of a wonderful lunch, and a conversation with a friend and and and ... Saying that, a still from the film might directly make the basis of a graphic.
Making art is a direct response to all the wonderful things I experience, I suppose things move me profoundly, and I want to explore and celebrate them. This is the same for P.A.M., but the main difference is that it is a shared vision and experience with Shauna, so the things which move her also make up the mix.
DD: As a husband and wife team, how does your relationship affect your working process?
Perks and Mini: Our 'professional' or 'work' environment doesn't really exist. Of course we run a business, but this is done with likeminded staff, people who understand the possibilities of a life where hard work doesn’t have to be banal or part of a system or a money machine. This means our studio is a friendly place with desks, music, incense, lunch and freedom. Of course sometimes it's an office too, but even then the feeling is of family. It brings the 'work' closer to being a part of our daily life relationship. We are never really working, more doing, so the distinction is very vague.
DD: P.A.M. is knows for its many and varied designer collaborations from clothing with brands such as Stussy to soup with the Cumulus chefs, what are the future plans for P.A.M.?
Perks and Mini: P.A.M. wants to keep making and helping the world be a better place. If we can let people know that it doesn't all have to be about shopping malls, junk food, commercial radio and film, etc. then we can be happy. We want to fly the flag of independence and of doing ‘whatchoolike’ in a most positive sense. We want to celebrate the work of visionaries, of wonderful artists and makers and collaborations are great for this. We would love to band together with everyone and anyone that is truly seeing the world in a new light and seeing a wonderful future for us all, and do what we can to achieve this. This doesn't mean dropping out, these means dropping in and on!! Tune in Turn on and Drop Up!