The Last Flowbender: The Mind Behind the Masterpiece (Part 3)

The Last Flowbender: The Mind Behind the Masterpiece (Part 3)

Interview with Slush on The Last Flowbender Collection

In this interview, we're diving deep with Slush as we come to the end of The Last Flowbender campaign! This collection was the first of its kind and went beyond just 4 new ropes - together we embarked on a journey of connection, movement, and exploration.


What was the inspo for this collection? The show obviously, but is that it?

The inspiration for this collection was an idea by Christine Trinidad, a friend and business partner from MILK+T, a boba business we started in our early 20s. During the design process of the “Year of the Dragon” rope, she asked if it was an Avatar-inspired rope. I told her that it was actually for Lunar New Year, and then the conversation STARTED! Christine ended up being a part of the creative process and helped co-write the lore and overall campaign storytelling!

Everything was pretty straightforward in my brain. Each element in the show represented a form of martial arts and was extremely well presented in the cartoon series. From my knowledge, the writers and creators of the cartoon series worked in tandem with people who specialized in martial arts to truly honor the blend of movements you see throughout the show. In addition, the elements are also universally understood and accepted - which also played a role in pushing this campaign.

Perhaps, one of the biggest differences in doing this pop culture-inspired campaign is the use of alchemical symbols (the triangular signs). Until the 18th century, there were over 3,000 symbols that were heavily used to communicate elements and compounds. In this pool of thousands of symbols, the 4 basic elements are water, air, fire, and earth. 

Also, I wanted the campaign to resonate with two types of people: people who love the show and people who live and breathe the 4 basic elements of life.

How did you know you wanted to collaborate with CJ for this?

I’ve known CJ for years now, and he would confirm that I’ve sent him a lot of prototype ropes throughout the years, hoping for a collaboration. Although he was always open to it, each rope was just “not it.” I really wanted to honor my friendship and relationship with him, and that meant holding off until the right one came along.

The original plan for “The Last Flowbender” was to have 4 collabs, with 4 different movers, specializing in 4 different modalities. I’m not gonna name the other cool people that were in consideration for the original plan because I still dream of doing something with them. So, let’s just say that in my crazy roadmap planning, I had CJ down for the water element originally to represent the rope flow modality. I crossed out everyone else’s name as I realized that CJ EMBODIES IT ALL AND THEN SOME! That dude has all 4 of the alchemical symbols tatted on him! They’re displayed in his house too!

So yeah, I called him immediately to discuss what I had in mind. I had a feeling he would be excited, but once I made my pitch, the man’s smile was unreal. Let’s just say it was ear to ear and he was speechless. 


Back to the show, who’s your favorite character and why?

I love and hate this question because I feel like I can never decide. In my brain, Uncle Iroh lives strong. His wisdom, quotes, and insane tea breaks really resonate with me. However, I do have a girl crush on Katara. I don’t know if that’s weird but I love the way that she moves when she bends water. Perhaps, it’s because I’m also a water sign. In the Netflix series, all my favorite scenes involved the Water Tribe. 

Last but not least, I want to say that Toph is my number 1. But then I think of Katara and start to feel disloyal. I am L-O-L-ing in real life right now as I type. Please don’t judge me!


Which type of bender are you (can’t say Avatar)? And which type of bending would you want if they were real? 

If I could bend in real life, I’d love to be an earthbender.


Ok, this is selfish but for practical purposes, I’d like to be able to rearrange my house, warehouse, and whatever heavy stuff I have with the tip of my finger LOL. I find myself moving furniture and rearranging my work and living spaces almost every 3 weeks. Like clockwork.

If I was an earthbender, it would be so much easier to move things around. 


The ropes are different sizes and have unique elements - tell me about the design process for them and how they relate to their respective element.

The product design process couldn’t have been possible without Christine and Dean (from Kinda Fit Kinda Fat), the co-creative director for this campaign.

There were three things we had to consider:

  1. Functionality - The question that needed to be answered first and foremost was, “Considering someone buys all 4 ropes, would they get something different out of each rope?”  I always want to think of the customer and their experience first. I wanted to come out with something I could be proud of, that was more than just different colors. It had to be intentional.

    Through this, the sizes of the ropes are different, except for Terra and Aether, both being Primal sizes. With Terra, I introduced, for the very first time, the “Multi Grip” which consists of 2 variations of handles stacked on top of each other. This helps with grip accessibility, especially for folks who have smaller hands (yuhhh, me!). For Aether, I will be introducing a JUMBO grip, the thickest I’ve ever released. If you own an Electric Shark, the handles for Aether will look similar. But this time, I used a thicker rope for the handles.

  2. Colorway - This idea was pitched by Dean. On a product level, the questions were: “What do these 4 ropes look like when they are all together? Do the colors clash? Do they complement each other?”

    There are countless ways to make each elemental rope but to find a sweet spot to make them cohesive collectively and individually was one of my most challenging feats.

  3. TV Series vs Elements - I also struggled with this during the design process. I constantly went back and forth on the design. A part of me thought creatively about basing things on the series (for example: what the nations wore), but then I would also be reminded of honoring the elements rather than the costumes.

    Air was perhaps the most difficult for me in terms of design. There was a huge part of me that wanted to tailor the design around what they wore on the show. I have several prototypes and they clashed with the other ropes when considering the colorway. The original air prototype was a maroon and gold rope. It clashed with the fire rope when looking at the entire collection. But, I finally landed on a perfect balance which I’m super excited to share with ya’ll this week!


CJ created a flow for each element, what have you gained from them so far?

This one is easy peasy, lemon squeezy. It made me rethink everything I knew.

I think this needs to be said: CJ’s elemental flows do not start with “rope, rope, rope.” There are a lot of flow building blocks that lead up to the ropes-in-motion-type-of-flow. To me, and this is JUST ME, the ability to have control and discipline when it comes to not going full ham - swinging the rope, doing releases, and all the tricks all at once - is a sign of feeling secure in one’s skill. If you break down the way CJ or I flow, you can see the layers and simplicity - there’s a build-up. Of course, this is NOT meant to bash anyone whose style is like this. Everyone has their own styles and preferences, and if it fits YOU then it should be celebrated!


Any hints on the next collection???

We’re going camping, and we’re camping for 8 weeks.


If you missed them, catch up on the interview with CJ Kobliska (aka The Last Flowbender) and the flows made for the campaign. Make sure to tag @slushropes and @movement_exploration_channel on Instagram when you try the flows!

 Author: Gabi Bradley


Edited by: Tameka Brown

Back to blog

Leave a comment