From Plush To Inflatables To Vinyl: An Interview With DGPH

from plush, to inflatables to vinyl (chronological, not in order of preference :p) - Argentinian design studio DGPH has emerged unto the designer-toy-arena with their clean-graphically-designed world; populated with cute and happy (and even charmingly silly) creatures, each with their own personality quirks and stories (i always appreciate a toy with a back-story, IMHO) giving them a semblence of "life' beyond their material-forms - and are quickly charming their way into many a toy-lurving-hearts, and stand to spread even more of their fandom with the recent news release of their first vinyl-figure; Mr. Topo (by adFunture) and their upcoming USA Mole Tour. i had a long (and overdue :p) chat with Diego Visberg and Martin Lowenstein (the principals of DGPH) about all-things-DGPH, toilet-paper-origins, giant toys and socks, including a coupla exclusive surprises ...

TOYSREVIL: tell us about DGPH - what do you guys do and what have you done and am planning to do?

DGPH: What we do is mostly spend time on drawing crazy cute guys (that's what we enjoy doing the most!). It's great to work on toys and creatures, thinking that some day they will come to life in some kind of product.

Right know we are planning more toys and series to come, with adFunture and Red Magic. And some day we hope we'll have a toy store of our own! Also we are in the midst of setting up a Bubble Mole Custom Show, with lots of international artists, with plans for the customs to tour/show around the globe.

Some of them will be a part of a Crossover Poster Series (DGPH vs some great illustrators) that will start at Munky King, and then expand for more shows in the future. The idea of this Crossover Poster show, is to add more artists each time we start a new show. Right now, phase one has artists like Julie West, Jeremyville, Hello Brute, Zeptonn; all great friends of ours! :)

TRE: that sounds truly cool and am looking forward to them all! btw, i've always wanted to ask this: what does "DGPH" stand for?

DGPH: The DGPH-name started as a joke. It's "diseƱo grafico papel higienico" - which means "toilet paper graphic design". We used a toilet paper image at the beginning, but the novelty soon faded out with time. So now it's just DGPH, No bathroom included.

TRE: LOL "humble-beginnings" indeed! and how long as DGPH been in existence?

DGPH: We started on this project back in university, around 2004. Martin and Diego (and some other fellas) decided to start something; to work on "something different" ... as time passed, just the two of us remained. Then we went and worked in an advertising studio, and we actually started the DGPH project as a freelance exercise.

We'd lasted only 8 months in the advertising industry then, and decided to leave and to make the DGPH studio "official", even working from our bedrooms in the beginning! This was around early 2005. Then eventually we decided to take the risk and rented a place to set-up the DGPH-studio, and it is where we have been working since until now, in the middle of Buenos Aires, Argentina :)

TRE: what are your basic design philosophy and approach to creating a DGPH-toy (thus far)?

DGPH: Basically we decided to make "happy toys". Cute little fellas. The basic recipe for our guys/creations are: a little bit of manga influence, with some street-style, add a bit of harmless "stupidity" on them, mix-in some nice colours and there you have it: a DGPH creature! I think with this basics, we can do a simple, cute and fun toy.

TRE: i remember reading about you guys in IDN a while back, did you know back then that you would be designing and producing toys, as you are now? was it always "part of the master plan"?

DGPH: When we decided to leave the advertising studio where we used to work, we told our boss that the reason for us leaving; was that we wanted to make toys. That has been always the 1st rule of DGPH. I guess when we first started, we didn't know how many toys we could do, or if people would like what we do ... now we are more than happy that the world has received our style, but we are not satisfied as yet - WE want more toys! LOL

TRE: what was your first toy produced and how did that come about? how did you feel about that?

DGPH: The first thing we ever made on toys, was customizing a Munny for the first Kidrobot Munny Show. It was awesome. We couldn't believe it when we received the blank-munny, and we were really happy when it was sold, since it was for charity.

DGPH: After that, we started working with Red Magic, with our first toy being the Sri Mole / Ganesh toy. But it never did come out the way we designed it in the first place. The Love Original Project has been delayed, or stopped (?) ... we have the samples, but we never saw it completely colored. And I think there is a new version on the market; a flocked one. Factory issues (amongst other things) are stopping the final Sri Mole from coming out ...

DGPH: ... But with Red Magic also came the SAM custom mushroom and the first CiBoys Molestown series [featured here] ... and pretty soon, you'll be able to get the DGPH CiBoys Series 2!

TRE: sorry to hear about Sri Mole tho, as im sure a load of fans are, but will be looking forward to the new toys, yeh? as for "new toy", i'm glad you found a manufacturer for the inflatable Bubble Moles (since last we spoke) - why inflatables?

DGPH-MARTIN: We were looking for an option to produce local toys. It's really expensive to do that here, and moreover there's no market nor any factories willing to give it a shot. We thought of making resin toys and wooden figures, Diego even tried to mold the toys himself, with a weird result...

DGPH-DIEGO: One day, Martin unintentionally saw an inflatable toy in a swiming pool store, and suddenly it hits us. We have to make a different toy! Something new and fresh. The Bubble Mole results were awesome: they were sold out in a really short time. The bubble moles are different from your regular toys: they are easily transportable, with each weighing less than 100 grams - which resulted in the perfect toy, we think! And it can stay inflated for months: We have one inflated since March and it still remains the same!

here's an exclusive sneak-peekie @ the upcoming Bubble Moles Series 2!

TRE: from plush, to inflatables,to vinyls - anything else DGPH is hoping to try?

DGPH-DIEGO: Next step is Giant Toys. We'll be trying some fiberglass toys in a few months. And probably we'll be experimenting on our own clothing trademark. Finally, Martin wants to make DGPH-Socks!

(could it be these guys? - not 'socks'! but as giant figures? just guessing ;p)

TRE: hey, socks are your friends on cold days, yeh? LOL and "vinyl-upsizing" seems to the next "big" thing in the toydom (sorry i couldn't resist my corny-self :p) - looking forward to them all, guys! besides creating toys, do you guys collect toys yourselves? and what do you collect?

DGPH: Well, we have different tastes on toys. The freaky one is Andres, the 3D guy (and Diego's brother). He collects transformers from the 80's series, and he's really freaky with this. Diego and Martin collect some vinyl toys, that are on display in the studio, plus some weird retro toys they found the streets.

TRE: ya gotta send me pics of your studio and collections soon, yeh? back to your own creations = the new Mr.Topo looks great! a "vinylization" of your Inflatable Mole, yeh? (or is it the other way around?) how did Mr.Topo come about?

DGPH: We've been talking for a long time with adFunture. And the Mole was always a priority to produce. Eddi, from AdFunture, gave us a good production time for this. Also, the possibility to make more toys as a series. So it came out very fast :)

We have had the idea of this toy for 2 years, so it was really easy to design him as toy. Almost natural. And Eddi understood the idea in a second.

TRE: what other plans are there for Mr.Topo?

DGPH: We'll have the Regular-colorway, plus 2 "surprise"-colorways of Mr.Topo and a Blank version for customizers to paint - which we will possibly use for some shows in the future, which i would imagine may even be at adFuture's gallery? :)


TRE: tell us about your USA Mole Tour - what's that about?

DGPH: This will be the first show, where we will be present / be attending as well :)

We'll start with a show at Munky King Store, on Sept 27th - where we will present the Munky King Bubble Mole Special Edition, plus the crossover poster series: 10 posters worked-on by DGPH and an individual artist (each).

After that, on Sept 28th; we'll be at Blu-82/BM, also in Los Angeles. There you will see an illustration series, that gives the name to the tour: Biker moles, heavy-metal style, really weird and funny and we'll be doing live painting @ the gallery.

And then we'll do a rare DGPH Painting Show at Project Gallery (LA) on Sept 29th, with stuff never shown before.

Finally, we'll go to San Francisco, to Double Punch (Ningyoushi store), to present the Topo Joe: the little Joe customized toy, together with another poster run.

DGPH: In addition to all of these, we will have also custom decks, vinyl and inflatable toys, customized toys, and lots of all new stuff, so we are now breaking our backs for these shows, so that the people who'll attend our shows has something different to see.

TOYSREVIL: that sounds terribly exciting guys! a pity fans like us are stuck halfway-round the world LOL - my best wishes to DGPH and we'll hope to see your more of your works and exhibitions online in time to come! cheers :)

some images via MOLESTOWN, a mini-picturebook produced by DGPH
(a must-get if you can find them, IMHO)

[additional images via + adfunture]
[original post circa 11.09.07]


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