In Conversation with John Tsiavis | WINGS OF PEGASUS - “11-11-11”

Ahead of the 2023 Melbourne Design Fair, we sat down with John Tsiavis, renowned Director and Photographer, to discuss “11-11-11”, a recent film collaboration with Christopher Boots, celebrating the studio’s 11th year.

“11-11-11”, positioned three iconic lighting pieces from the core CHRISTOPHER BOOTS range into narrative vignettes, incorporating contemporary movement by Garry Stewart and heralding a new chapter in the creative direction and ongoing collaboration between Tsiavis and Boots.

The second film in the “11-11-11” series spotlights WINGS OF PEGASUS and tells the operatic story of an angel who has fallen in love with a human and is then torn from Earth.

As Melbourne Design Fair this year saw the WINGS OF PEGASUS officially launched into the permanent collection, Tsiavis gives us a peek behind the curtain and discusses the conception of the films, the importance of narrative in his work, and his ongoing collaborative relationship with the CHRISTOPHER BOOTS studio.

CB: John, you’ve had a long personal friendship, and collaborative working relationship with Christopher and the studio, do you remember the first project you worked on with Christopher and the team?

JS: I met Christopher through mutual friends about fifteen years ago. Our first project together was when I offered to photograph his first collection, and he couldn’t have been more appreciative. That project marked the start of a meaningful and productive friendship and collaborative working relationship that has continued to this day.

CB: Thinking back to the inception of the “11-11-11” films and how the bones of the triptych began to develop, can you describe how the project started?

JS: Christopher initially approached me with the idea of creating a photo series to commemorate the studio’s 11th anniversary. As a visual artist, I saw this as a unique opportunity to expand on the established visual language we had developed over the years and take it to the next level. While photographing CHRISTOPHER BOOTS’ light fixtures in the past, I felt that capturing them in one image didn’t do them justice. As I had recently shifted my focus towards directing, I suggested capturing the light sculptures in motion to showcase their three-dimensional nature. Christopher loved the idea and encouraged me to develop it further. The project evolved into three one-minute art films, which we called the “11-11-11” triptych.

CB: WINGS OF PEGASUS were first commissioned by Hermès back in 2014, and are now being officially launched as a core fixture of the CHRISTOPHER BOOTS range at Melbourne Design Fair this year. What stood out to you about the WINGS OF PEGASUS and how did this influence your creative process in capturing the piece?

JS: I was immediately drawn to their sense of fantasy and knew I could create something truly magical with them. The way the soft, delicate quartz contrasted with their bold, powerful presence made for an even more compelling visual story.

CB: Each film is thematically tied, but stylistically very different. Can you speak to the narrative of the WINGS OF PEGASUS film, the second in the triptych, and how it differs from the first and third parts?

JS: Mythology has long inspired the CHRISTOPHER BOOTS studio, playing a significant role in branding, marketing, product design, and naming, so I used this project to explore how mythology and ancient beliefs in the divine shaped man’s understanding of natural phenomena.

For the METEOR film, I wanted to capture the raw and wild aesthetic of pagan rituals, where people believed meteors were messengers from the Gods. OURANOS takes a more meditative approach, exploring the significance of circles in religion, often representing eternal life, connection, and the limitless circularity of nature and time.

As for the WINGS OF PEGASUS film, I wanted to tell a dark and moving story about love, heartbreak, and loss that would resonate with the audience on a deeper emotional level while contrasting the brightness and happiness often associated with wings. Inspired by the Book of Enoch and the story of the Watchers, who were angels tasked to Earth to watch over humans. God created the great flood to destroy the earth after the Watchers began lusting and procreating with humans. So the film depicts the tragic moment when the Lovers, a man and the angel Azazel, are torn apart and Azazel is reinstated to the heavens.

CB: Narrative and story-telling are essential mechanisms to the work of the CHRISTOPHER BOOTS studio, how did this inspire you in conceptualizing the WINGS OF PEGASUS film?

JS: Storytelling is essential to my work too. It’s what connects and engages the audience.

CB: The film triptych heralded a new chapter in the creative direction of the CHRISTOPHER BOOTS studio, what did you consider when approaching these films, and how they would differ from the collaborative body of work you’d produced together in the past?

JS: Unlike our previous collaborations, we had to work with a larger team of collaborators and technicians to achieve this tryptic of films. I was grateful that Christopher had put his trust in me to lead the project, but it was definitely daunting at times. Thankfully, I had a fantastic team that supported me every step of the way. We had a tight schedule of just a day and a half to build and light the sets, choreograph the dancers, design and create the costumes, and another day and a half to shoot the principal photography for all three films. It was one of the most challenging and ambitious projects I’ve ever worked on, and there were moments when I wasn’t sure if we would be able to pull it off. However, with the unwavering support of the CHRISTOPHER BOOTS team, my amazing collaborators, and Christopher’s willingness to give us creative freedom, we were able to create something I’m truly proud of.

Thank you John for lifting the veil and giving us some insight into your creative process, inspirations, and ongoing commitment to your craft.

To find out more about the WINGS OF PEGASUS which are now available for purchase, get in touch with one of our lighting consultants today.

Photography: Ryan Achilles