Q & A: French Design Team Surface To Air Touches Down in NYC

PSFK interviews Jeremie Roza, once half of the team of French arbiters of fashion cool, about his new store space.

How do you say cool in French? French design team Surface to Air not only defines hip and current Parisian culture, but has become synonymous internationally with a new brand of fashion house which synthesizes the more glamorous elements of youth culture. Since starting up in 2000, Surface to Air has grown to become a well recognized brand with insider appeal across the disciplines of fashion, art direction, and film. Some of their more well known projects have included conceptualizing award winning music videos for Justice, Kid Cudi and Chromeo, to art direction for Louis Vuitton, Uniqlo and Diesel. And these are only the projects we’re allowed to mention.

While many on the creative circuit have had Surface to Air on their radar for some time, until recently their namesake label was without a US home — forced to couch surf at some of NYC’s edgier retail outlets like Oak and I Hate Mondays. However, all that changed last week with the opening of their first flagship store at 27 Mercer Street. The shop comes as part of  Surface to Air’s  growing presence in the US, which also includes a US online store launched over the summer and upcoming special projects and collaborations with Kid Cudi, Leigh Lezark, and Kim Gordan. Attending the opening and subsequent after party were some of the brightest and most esteemed members of the worlds of music, fashion, art, and design including Michael Stipe and artist Aaron Young.

While he’s been very busy taking over the world through his innovative use of design, Jeremie Roza, CEO & Founder of Surface To Air was able to take some time out his packed schedule to answer a few of our more pressing questions.

 What made you decide the time was right to open a US store?

The timing is actually late. We have a long history with NY and New Yorkers as some of us are from the city. At the beginning of Surface To Air, through our gallery and our publications, we collaborated with lots of NYC artists such as Dash Snow, Wes Lang or FAILE. Now our line is growing fast here, selling in more than 45 stores across the US (especially with Barneys). It was more than time for us to propose our own retail experience.

  What is the mission of Surface To Air? What inspires you?

Our philosophy is that creativity = capital. We like beauty but also, we like that things make sense. What I mean is that making good quality clothes that last at a decent price is as important for us as style and being in ‘today’s air.’ We are 35 people at S2A, 14 nationalities from all 5 continents. We are all big art, movie, music lovers. What inspires us is just sharing our personal interests, stories and references everyday.

 Who are some of your favorite Americans? What would you say is the main difference between NYC and Paris?

We are not really icons fans but can be obsessed with certain art pieces or images. For the USA, I’d say:

Kim Gordon’s house in Massachusetts; Charlotte Rampling in Vanishing Point; Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies;’ Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now; Faye Dunaway in Chinatown; Black Flag performances and covers; Sidney Pollack’s Jeremiah Johnson; Sidney Lumet’s Network; RZA’s ‘Enter 36 Chambers;’ Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly although it was shot in Spain; John Ford’s The Searchers; PJ Harvey ‘s ‘Dry;’ David Lynch’s Wild at Heart

 What was the inspiration behind the store layout?

Wood for the warmth, all kinds of marble/stone for the mountains where I come from. The concrete bunker seemed to be a interesting symbol of common Franco-American history.

 Do you have any plans for a collaboration in the future?

Kid Cudi, Kim Gordon, Olaf Bruening, Chromeo and many ideas that we can’t disclose now….

There were many notable musicians at your opening, how would you say music has influenced your designs?

We are big music lovers. Music — not only musical imagery — is a big part of our culture but also the music itself inspires a lot of images. That’s why we still love creating images for music and making music videos as well as creating clothes for performers or inspired by performers.

If you could dress any person alive or dead, who would it be?

 Since the beginning it has been about dressing ourselves.

Thanks Jeremie!

Surface To Air

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