Rick Owens got it all, new store, museum exhibition, and book. Let’s get a taste of Rick Owens Furniture Exhibition In He’s New Manhattan Store.
Rick Owens shows that his creative genius and rebellious spirit extends well beyond fashion to furniture.
While is best known for his luxurious goth-infused clothes he has another passion, too: furniture, which he designs and produces in partnership with his French wife, Michèle Lamy. “It started out as a private thing—something we were doing for ourselves,” Owens says, sitting in his Paris studio earlier this fall. “We needed a new bed. Then we thought, A couch would be nice.” Now his brand’s new Manhattan store is filled with site-specific pieces, an anticipated book on the couple’s interiors is being published by Rizzoli, and an exhibition of their neo-Paleolithic furniture (a show Owens calls “a love letter to Michèle”) will open December 17 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA).
“The Rick Owens world is very closed. I work in an isolated way,” he explains. “Michèle was looking for something new, and the furniture became her baby.” The way they work together is straightforward: Owens sketches pieces and shows them to Lamy. “She either frowns or gets into it,” he says with a laugh. If she embraces a design, she uses what Owens calls her “chaos magic” to execute it with teams of artisans. “That’s the part she loves—orchestrating,” he says. “She’s like an old-fashioned saloniste.” Stools and benches combine stark geometric forms with sculptural antlers, sleighlike recamiers mix humble plywood and luxe leather, and monolithic beds are crafted out of alabaster blocks.
When Owens considered the New York store—an 8,000-square-foot space on the corner of Howard and Crosby streets—he had a specific idea. “I wanted to make it as reductive as possible—fur and rock next to a fire in a cave.” He came up with benches and display tables he now describes as “boulders” that have “facets derived from World War II German bunkers, Eileen Gray lines, Jean-Michel Frank restraint, Robert Mallet-Stevens geometry, and Claude Parent’s fascination with the oblique.” Lamy had versions made in Styrofoam, rock crystal, and concrete and overlaid some with camel fur—a material she fell in love with during travelling in the Middle East.
Owens settled the pieces throughout the store, sometimes piling them like towers, an activity he parallels to “kids playing with rocks and making a fantasy world.”
The boutique’s furniture is not for sale (“the stores sell clothes,” Owens explains), but other works are displayed at fairs by Salon 94, among his other galleries.
When the MOCA team approached Owens about an exhibition, he was initially hesitant—he wasn’t convinced it made sense in the museum’s Pacific Design Center outpost—but, “upon further investigation, I thought, this looks pretty cool.” Some of the two dozen pieces on exhibition will be from his personal collection, but the clear majority will be made for the show. “People sometimes say, ‘Your furniture is not very cosy,’” he admits. “But I like things that are disciplined, that make you sit straighter, where there is more rigour and more formality. I think there is a place for that. The world is already full of cosiness.”
Maybe this is the wild side and Gothic world talking but we believe that the world is never to cosy even for Owens furniture.
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