Meet The Artist—Disco Cubes

artful living

Meet The Artist—Disco Cubes

We spoke with LA-based photographer Leslie Kirchhoff, the visionary behind @discocubes, about the joy she finds in her work, creating an innovative artform, and mixology tips.

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JULY 06, 2023

Leslie Kirchhoff is an LA-based photographer, DJ, and the visionary behind your favorite luxury frozen goods—@discocubes. Always brewing up dreamy cocktails and freezing fruit and florals, her art is the ultimate summer dinner party inspiration. For this Meet The Artist series, we spoke to Leslie about the joy she finds in her work, creating an innovative artform, and mixology tips.

Kinn: You’ve got your hands full! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Leslie: I do! I run what I like to call an experimental creative studio. The bulk of my time is filled with photo and video work, and then there’s the world of Disco Cubes, which encompasses the ice cube business and my many frozen experiments, plus our spicy cocktail enhancer, Disco Inferno.

Kinn: Can you describe your journey into the world of luxury ice?

Leslie: In the early 2010s I was living in New York and traveling a lot for photo work and DJing. I noticed that even at the best events and bars in the world, there wasn’t much innovation happening with the ice cube. One of my favorite restaurants in NYC had coffee ice cubes in their Vietnamese iced coffee, which I think sparked some initial inspiration. Then while DJing at the James Hotel, I tried a cocktail that claimed to have a lavender ice cube in it, and the cube had me instantly devising a plan for how it could be made better. The final kicker was when I was in Cannes for the film festival, and couldn’t believe that events of such magnitude were using the most basic ice. I realized there was a huge gap in the market, and that the ice cube could be a blank canvas for creativity.

Kinn: What are some of the roadblocks that you’ve faced to get where you are today?

Leslie: When I started dreaming up the vision for Disco Cubes, there really wasn’t much information out there on how to make clear ice in the first place, let alone how to suspend something in the center. I knew it had to be physically possible, and I set out to figure out how. It took a couple years to invent and then perfect the technique, with a lot of trial and error. With the incredibly slow speed of freezing clear ice (it takes a minimum of 24 hours for a clear 2” cube), the tests and trials moved at an incredibly slow pace. I was also warned by a friend of a friend how difficult it is to have a frozen product. Beyond the innate difficulties of starting a business, the process of making, storing, and delivering a temperature sensitive product has its own set of roadblocks and headaches.

Kinn: What’s your favorite thing about creating art through ice? 

Leslie: I really love how unpredictable ice can be. It makes every project a mini experiment, and it’s exciting to unearth something when you only have a rough idea of the final result, and can only hope that it will turn out as planned. It’s also been a really fun way to showcase and document nature and botanicals. I love finding beauty in the mundane, and when there’s a plant or flower growing in my garden and it’s at a beautiful phase, I love that I can quite literally freeze that moment in time, and preserve that beauty. I find it’s similar to photography in the fact that it’s capturing a specific moment in time, but rather than a 2-dimensional photograph, you have a 3-dimensional cube.

Kinn: What is the most interesting thing you’ve frozen into ice?

Leslie: Probably a fish! I have a memory of being a kid in Wisconsin and seeing a fish frozen in the lake, and pressing my face down against the ice to observe it, suspended below me. For a recent magazine story, I recreated it by freezing a fish from the supermarket into a big block of ice.

Kinn: Do you have any tips for those of us that don’t have a knack for making cocktails at home?

Leslie: There are a handful of shortcuts that can make things easier — I love to recommend finding a liqueur that you like, to use in place of simple syrup. Some of my favorites are Chareau Aloe Liqueur, Basbas (an herbal liqueur from Ibiza), Italicus Bergamot Liqueur, and of course, Cointreau, the classic orange liqueur. I also love keeping a bottle of Supasawa Sour Cocktail Mixer around, which is a great clear sour mix that can stand in for fresh citrus, and creates a really gorgeous clear margarita.

Kinn: Any favorite cocktail recipes you want to share with us?

Leslie: Crystal Clear Bergamot Margarita:

2 oz Silver Tequila (I love Patrón)

1 oz Supasawa

3/4 oz Italicus Bergamot Liqueur

Kinn: Any advice for creatives or entrepreneurs who are just starting out? 

Leslie: Dabble in various projects, talk with people in different fields, and always stay curious. There's so much to learn in this world that can help you to design your life so that it's fulfilling and exciting — inspiration hides in so many places. And remember that your work is what fills your days for most of your life, so it's great to find or create a path that will not only bring you bits of joy on the daily, but one that can shift with you as your life, needs, and interests change. Also, always make time for travel.

Shop Leslie’s favorite jewelry pieces here.