The Feng Shui Of Mr Rick Owens
Onyx toilet bowl, Carrara Tuscany, 2015. Photograph by Owenscorp. Below: Mr Rick Owens. Photograph by Ms Danielle Levitt
The designer talks about furniture and his future.
In the same month that MR PORTER launched its exclusive Rick Owens capsule collection as part of its Made In California project, Mr Owens was signing copies of his book Rick Owens: Furniture in his Milan flagship store. What started in 2007 as “a conversation and a romp” with his wife and muse Ms Michèle Lamy has turned into a separate entity that stretches to more than 55 pieces of furniture made by the pair. Collectors covet them, while institutions, from the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles to Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London, elevate them to artworks. The book charts the journey of the works – from marble quarry to master craftsman, tannery to tabletop – and of their creators, whose intimate conversations and elegant interiors complete the mise en scène.
To mark its launch and his collaboration with MR PORTER, we sat down with the man himself to talk about his future and furniture.
The furniture stays close to your fashion in terms of aesthetic and form. Will it stay that way?
We recently did some shiny, slick steel pieces that should have felt out of place in the collection, but they were a fun surprise and actually ended up looking inevitable.
You work with ox bone, bronze, plywood… materials with texture. Is anything a no-no? Colour, say, or upholstery?
Never say never. I am attracted to the perverse challenge of using something that feels wrong.
Are you working on any new pieces right now?
The great thing about furniture is that the lust for newness isn’t as urgent as it is with fashion. We are in a frenzy of production, but we are taking our time to make new things.
From left: petrified wood Curial chair, 2011 Photograph by Mr Adrien Dirand/Owenscorp. Palais Bourbon, 2015. Photograph by Owenscorp
Do you plan to expand on your Maison/Objets homeware?
One can never have enough vases, and we are starting work with porphyry and basalt.
You reveal in the book that your first piece of furniture was a couch bought from the Salvation Army for $25. You coveted Art Deco masters such as Ms Eileen Grey and Mr Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, but you couldn’t afford them so you “set out faking it”. What sort of art and furniture do you collect now?
I rarely buy anything contemporary. It’s usually Art Nouveau or Vienna Secessionist pieces. I just bought some heads from Italian futurist artists Renato Bertelli and Thayaht.
In the book you give much credit to your wife for the furniture. Who conceives the ideas, you, Michèle or both of you together?
I usually come up with shapes and Hun has models made in foam that we adjust together. The shapes she isn’t attracted to don’t make the edit. It is a way to play together.
Ms Michèle Lamy at Ébénisterie Dagorn, Saint-Fargeau-Ponthierry, April 2016. Photograph by Owenscorp
Would you take a next step into architecture?
I am too much of a fanboy of Carlo Scarpa, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra and Marcel Breuer. And buildings take too long. For better or worse, I decided to construct my life’s work in fashion. I don’t have time to tell a fully resolved story with architecture. But Hun likes constructing temporary fort-like spaces she refers to as barges. Next week, to coincide with the opening of the Venice Biennale, she will construct a barge on the rooftop of a warehouse overlooking the water, where we always spend the summer. There will be food, people, art and boxing. She likes hosting salons and mixing people together. I just like stopping in and then waiting for her at home.