Mogollon’s Myriad Ideas.

The graphic designers on their visions of abundance.

Tabbing through the portfolio of design duo Mogollon, one might encounter a series of record covers that feature overlaid planes where graphic collaging seems to slip directly into colorized photography. But that distinct style is only to be followed by a poster on which a spare Swiss-style layout appears to have been upended, and its once-orderly letterforms now cascade down a page filigreed with gold leaf. Mogollon's work, though much of it is rendered in two static dimensions, has a kinetic energy that spills across the plane and even between mediums.

Comprised of Workspace members Monica Brand and Francisco Lopez, Mogollon is named for a Spanish word with a meaning centered on ideas of abundance. "Mogollon is about allowing creativity to flow. It's abundance, in the love of what we do, abundance of outlets for it, of mediums to express ourselves," they told me. The bounty of visual devices can trigger an avalanche of associations. "Memory is directly connected to emotions. We tend to recollect things or situations by how strongly we felt about them," they said. "There is a phase of discovering, or synchronicity, when we start to find connections between our own personal creative interests and the creative needs of a project. It doesn’t happen all the time but, when it does happen, is very magical because it allow us to evolve our ideas and apply them in projects with specific significance."

Among the personal creative interests Mogollon often allude to is their love of cinema – specifically, many of their palettes come from film stills. And much of their work particularly recalls that particular Technicolor, Cinemascope moment of the mid-to-late 60s, perhaps most memorably recorded in the 1968 Thomas Crown Affair, with its wipes and split-screens of Steve McQueen arriving in a banana yellow glider to the galloping guitar of Jose Feliciano. Mogollon's pattern designs for the Brooklyn restaurant Sisters recall the 1966 Modesty Blaise: both feature high-contrast, strobing colors that set off gestural warm tones.

Perhaps what allows the duo to bring all these interests to bear on their work is focusing on a fluid relationship with their clients: their input encompassing not just a logo and a decorative motif but the whole feel of a space or philosophy behind a project. "We're more inclined to choose to work with clients who are looking for a creative partner rather than just a designer."

Mogollon say that, in their experience in the Workspace, they found a similar sort of reciprocal energy: "We feel we’re in this very receptive state of existence right now; like two sponges waiting to be filled up with new inspiration, new ideas, new techniques… A/D/O is a good place to be like this; you never know when someone will say or show you something that will completely transform the direction of what you’re doing."

It was in one such encounter that they discovered their current, exploratory project had strange reverberations with that of Casey Lewis (see our interview with the industrial designer on his prototyping experiment). Their project, which they call "Neoprimalism," is, like Lewis's, a pure exploration of form based on submerged resonances and partly veiled suggestions:

"We're developing a series of projects under a main umbrella exploration that we’ve called 'Neoprimalism.'  Neoprimalism started from our interest in studying sea debris, megaliths and monolithic shapes and formations. These are all objects that have been initially manipulated by humans but ultimately transformed by time and the elements. That passage of time over something that originally carried a meaning, a value, a message, it’s interesting to us. We synthesized a lot of these different forms into a unique graphic vocabulary and from there we started creating our own totems, tables and other objects which are still finding their way into what they really are. It’s an ongoing game of recovering and discovering.

"It’s a very exciting way to create because there are not expectations. We don’t think about utility, we establish a graphic alphabet at first and then the words start forming by themselves until a whole new language is formed."

Triadic Totems image courtesy of Mogollon, Stephen Burks Man Made and One For Hundred. Sisters image courtesy of Mogollon.

Workspace images by Sam Nixon.