Now that Miami-based artist duo FriendsWithYou has teamed up with Pharrell, the sky’s the limit. Literally. For the partners, working closely with Miamian Pharrell Williams — the protean being who dominates every aspect of pop life here — has helped their already chipper mood. Both in their 30s and Miami homeboys, they’ve been on a roll lately. The benediction of Pharrell has, of course, changed the course of FWY. “He has helped us so much with merchandising, our artwork, the films and branding we want to do,” says Borkson. “His dreams are so big, and he under- stands how we want to put our dreams into play.”
Pharrell has been a long-time fan of their work — he first met them in 2007–though their collaboration began fairly recently when Pharrell needed an over-the-top car for a music video. Borkson and Sandoval created a groovy-woovy effect on a 1960 Rolls-Royce, wrap- ping the car in their trademark psychedelic colors–sort of middle- period Peter Max meets the American spawn of Takashi Murakami. The way tricked-out car, christened “Magical Explosions,” appeared in the video for “Hot-N-Fun” that was shot in the California desert. FWY went on to do other imagery for N*E*R*D, from tour videos to art for the official website: on the site, a somber three-eyed face in black suddenly erupts in a barrage of post-Kenny Scharf iconography, the face pulsating like a nuclear reactor in meltdown mode.
At the last Art Basel, they opened their studio, gallery and re- tail operation, done up with a FWY neon sign and pale blue walls adorned with jolly clouds and rainbows. In their office, the partners keep a plastic statue of Mickey Mouse: Walt Disney is one of their idols. The store sells, among other things, cuddly plush toys shaped like mischievous cheeseburgers and penguins, and it was quite the scene last year, with Pharrell, Christian Louboutin and Shepard Fairey all stopping by to hang out. And to Borkson, who believes that FWY installations can “cleanse people without them even knowing it,” Rainbow City, Pharrell and all the rest is part of the new Miami message: “It’s such a different town now–look at the De La Cruz museum down the street. The whole city was missing a groove before, but now it’s a magical place, full of art.”