Simon and Nikolai Haas create out-of-this-world works that relate to our basic human instincts. The twin-brothers work together, fusing their different backgrounds, interests, and skillsets in an organic way that could only be achieved by such a bonded pair. Not keen on categorizing their work, the Haas brothers build objects that are inspired as much by their everyday interactions as a mythical realm. They infuse a joy and playfulness into their creations that has taken the art and design world by storm. The Haas Brothers are based in Los Angeles, CA and are represented by both Marianne Boesky Gallery and R & Company.
Before joining forces, what were each of your pursuing individually?
SIMON: Niki was a musician and a house manager. He frequently built furniture or did house improvements for clients and kept a music studio where he would play and record original songs. I was pursuing painting. I studied both painting and architecture at RISD and I was a cook for about 8 years before we started working together.
NIKI: Simon was studying, painting, cooking at a restaurant and I was managing properties and doing personal assistant work.
Your work has a fantastical, other worldly quality but still retains familiar
elements that humans can connect to – is this balance intentional?
SIMON: It is both intentional and subconscious. We both love myth, cartoons, and archetypes. I think back to early spiritual or ritual art that had chimeras, super humans and anthropomorphized animals in it and I don’t think our work is all that different in its essence. It is in our nature to ascribe human characteristics to everything in order to relate to the world around us, I consider that to be sort of a spiritual connection with the physical world. We interact with the world with openness and curiosity and express our experience of it.
NIKI: Yes and no. I love the idea of using fantasy as a way to explore ideas that are difficult to talk about in plain terms. I think we both grew up in a fantasy world, so in a sense it’s just what we know.
In your own words, how would you describe the Haas brand?
SIMON: It’s what happens when two people with different interests who happen to know each other really well because they’re twins and have a common creative goal come together and make work.
NIKI: Completely from our heads. Though we have very different approaches to life we really enjoy using a common voice and that common voice is unusual and totally ours.
Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
SIMON: Niki is very inspired by people, especially people he loves, and cartoons. I am endlessly fascinated by plants, patterns, computing and what gets added or lost in the process of translating an image or object from observation or imagination into an object or picture.
NIKI: I think Simon draws inspiration from plants and math and the universal mysteries. I love being around people and having really human interactions. That’s where I find my inspiration.
Are there other artistic movements that influence your creations?
SIMON: I think (Antoni) Gaudi is our most consistent common inspiration.
NIKI: I love surrealism, Memphis, so many things really. But I think I’m the most inspired by music, past and present.
Your work is in a very unique position of spanning both the design and fine art realm. Have you always been interested in these two realms or was it a natural progression to create both?
SIMON: We grew up making both. I studied both at school, and we’ve never really cared to keep things strictly in categories. The art/design conversation comes more from the public than from within our process – we just make what we like making.
NIKI: It was very organic. We started as cabinet builders. I think the categories we are lucky enough to absorb are just a reflection of us honing our craft. We take our jobs very seriously. We want to be good at it.
What is your creating process like? Do you each take on certain roles or is it all
SIMON: It’s always collaborative but to simplify things Niki is the sculptor and I am the tinkerer.
NIKI: Yes, we do take on roles but it’s all coming from a language we created together. There’s lots of conversations, that’s the best way to describe it. Separating that is hard though, like if I asked you who did what in your conversations with your best friend over the past 10 years it’d be hard to answer. But that what it feels like.
If a first-time Haas collector was interested in buying your work, what piece would you recommend they begin with?
SIMON: Whatever speaks to them!
NIKI: What they like.
Do you each have a favorite piece?
SIMON: My favorite piece is always the one I am working on.
NIKI: I don’t have a favorite. I just like making stuff.
What are you looking forward to this year?
SIMON: Our show “Madonna” at Marianne Boesky in September in NYC.
NIKI: Our big show at Marianne Boesky! 9-19-2019. called “Madonna.”
At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?
NIKI: Johnny Smith, John Pope, Greg Chait, Jonas Wood, Kenny Scharf.