Coming off the back of his furniture exhibition in Berlin just a few weeks back, ARTINFO spoke to Rick Owens about his inspiration and design process for his more recent endeavors in furniture design.
ARTINFO – Renowned Paris-based fashion designer Rick Owens is the man responsible for the distressed, skin-tight leather ensembles that have become the standard for moody, dark, grungy luxury wear. His much-coveted pieces, especially his leather jackets — often embellished with fur or shearling, and seen on fans like Madonna and Courtney Love — embody a sensibility that embraces contradictions, finding a place where medieval meets modern. They are thin and supple, with fluid lines; however, when worn, they exude a rugged and tough aesthetic.
Owens channels this design philosophy into his new collection of furniture, on view at New York gallery Salon 94 from May 8 to June 25. For his first furniture show in the United States, titled “Pavane for a Dead Princess,” the California-born designer has transformed the gallery space into a contemporary, hyper-minimal rendering of a bedroom interior, based on his own Parisian home. He has a penchant for luxurious material, using translucent Spanish alabaster to carve a striking headboard, positioned near a wood, bronze, and alabaster day bed in a room draped with mink curtains.
What prompted you to start designing furniture?
When I moved into my house in Paris, I would have ideally stuffed it with Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Jean Dunand, and Eileen Grey. But, besides its prohibitive cost, all that Art Deco stuff is just too small for me. Instead, I decided to make fake, oversize versions with the same improvisational, Scotch–taped approach I applied to my first clothing collection.
Fashion and furniture both have to be, on some level, functional and practical. Is there an overlap in how you approach those different areas of design?
Just as I executed my interpretation of designer Madame Grès‘ styles in washed leather and old T-shirts, I sketched Jean Michel-Frank in black plywood. Once I saw how it came out, I thought it would be amusing to present it in my menswear showroom. It was intended as a one-time thing, but it developed a life of its own.
How do you choose your materials? They seem to be an important aspect in your designs. Can you talk about using Spanish alabaster, for example?
I probably think of lines first, before going to my fairly limited roster of materials: plywood, concrete, marble, leather, fur, and antlers. I’m using alabaster for the first time. I’m not trying to do anything particularly witty or startling. I’m just trying to make something I can live with that summarizes some of the experiences and touchstones that mean something to me and to our generation. It’s the same approach I bring to making clothes — I’m looking for rational, modest grace.
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