Many of today’s top couture designers are trying their hand at furniture design. We breakdown the best collections and collaborations:
Over the last decade an increasing number of fashion designers have begun experimenting with home design. Sensing the piqued interest for lifestyle products desired by today’s luxury consumer, smaller and more niche companies have diversified into furniture design. A movement spearheaded by Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani in the early 2000s.
Many of these smaller companies unable to take a similarly direct approach, through either not having the luxury of capital nor a large enough core market to expand upon, their forays into home design are limited to collaborations producing limited run, capsule collections. With both companies in each unique partnership offering different approaches, the resulting designs are often daring and experimental.
This year’s Salone del Mobile saw the greatest number of collaborations to date, from the Campina Brothers and Fendi’s ‘Armchair of a Thousand Eyes’ to Marcelo Burlon’s graphic hand-knotted rug designs for Illulian, The trend shows no signs of slowing.
The theme has established a strong presence in the world of property development and hospitality. Today the more established partnerships such as Bulgari, Armani and Versace hotels are being challenged by smaller, more boutique brands such as Baccarat, Bathing Ape and Missoni. Developers are also utilising brands to increase market demand for their residences. In Miami, a successful partnership between Fendi and the Chateau Group produced a stunning collections of waterfront apartments, whilst here in London our Nine Elms regeneration will reportedly feature a 50 story skyscraper interior-designed by Versace.
It seems to have garnered the attention of the once sleeping dragon. According to Ross Urwin, director of the newly established Design Shanghai trade fair, China’s newly monied elite have become “bored with the whole fashion industry” – opting instead to invest in home furnishings and art. With Asia’s luxury market booming in recent years, the opportunity for coveted fashion houses to capitalise on their brand recognition is suddenly very real, as Urwin comments, “everything happens so quickly in China.”
Here are some of our favourites to date:
1. Margret Howell & Ercol
In 2002, Britain’s leading solid wood manufacturer Ercol started working with Margaret Howell to reinterpret several of their classic designs. All originally designed by Lucian R Ercolani in the 1950s, they include the Plank Dining Table, Love Seat and Trio – a nest of three stacking tables.
Constructed from solid elm and beech, these particular designs were inspired by Ercol’s groundbreaking ‘Windsor Range that were first launched at the ‘Britain Can Make It’ Exhibition, 1946. This original collection formed the basis for the company’s new direction that led to their much coveted light and simple designs of the 1950s.
Known for her timeless designs with a contemporary edge, Howell’s collaboration with Ercol represents a natural extension of her working philosophy. Howell is noted admirer of British modernist designers who lead the shift in design aesthetic in the post war period: “it is the combination of quality and craftsmanship and a straightforward, yet elegant approach to the design that attracts me to this particular period of Ercol furniture and has led me to re-evaluate Ercolani’s original designs.”
Where can you buy?
Margret Howell, 34 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 2RS
2. Rick Owens
Born in 1961 in California, Rick Owens founded his own fashion label in 1994. In 2002 he won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Perry Ellis Emerging Talent Award. In 2007 he was awarded the prestigious Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award.
Having established himself amongst this generation’s elite designers, Owen’s foray into home design began when he started making furniture for his own property. Garnered by the success in his endeavour, Owens opted to design and present a collection in Paris at the Jousse Enterprise back in 2007. The resulting acclaim led to a further exhibition in London two years later.
Late in 2014, several of his newer pieces were displayed as a part of the third annual Salon: Art + Design fair (the sister fair to the Paris Biennale) at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. Approaching furniture with a similar approach to his runway designs, Owens’ works are on the forefront of contemporary design. “They are very connected,” says Salon 94’s Jessica Witkin, the director of the gallery representing Owens. “He juxtaposes modest materials with luxurious ones—cotton and crocodile skin in a bomber jacket, for example, or plywood paired with alabaster for a daybed.”
Where can you buy?
Selfridges: 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB
3. Jean Prouvé – Vitra & G-Star Raw
Prouvé RAW presents a collection of Jean Prouvé furniture classics – newly interpreted by denim specialist G-Star and Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra, in collaboration with the Prouvé family.
Inspired by their mutual passion for this French Modernist’s iconic designs, the G-Star and Vitra creative teams worked for two years to give some of Jean Prouvé’s best known designs a fresh, contemporary look and feel, while re-discovering the charm of some of his lesser known pieces.
Prouvé RAW is a collection of eighteen design classics that embraces the essence of Jean Prouvé’s work, while also adding contemporary colours, textiles and details. Newly available pieces include reissues of the Fauteuil Direction and Fauteuil de Salon armchairs, plus Tabouret Solvay stool. The collection also includes updated materials and finishes to the Standard chair, EM Table and Compas Direction developed alongside famed Dutch designer Hella Jongerius as well as Jean Prouvé’s family.
Where can you buy?