THE MONUMENTAL FURNITURE OF RICK OWENS

Do we really need a runway show to see the practical material, or do we need to see the story? Do we need to see commitment, evolution, and aspiration?

By Balthazar Malevolent

THE MONUMENTAL FURNITURE OF RICK OWENS

Many people don't know that Rick Owens has been creating furniture and fashion since 2007. That's partly because Owens deliberately retains the items from most of his stores; and partly because they don't look like furniture, even in situ. Instead, they resemble round, faceted rocks made of such varied materials as Carrara marble or plywood, perhaps embedded with a moose antler. Owens' own bed — one of three editions — is a colossal tomblike structure made of alabaster slabs that weighs two tons when combined with its accompanying daybed.

Rick Owens furniture: Set of two chairs

"Furniture — because it was never a requirement for us — was something we only did for ourselves to satisfy our own artistic appetites and personal needs," says Owens in his trademark California drawl, on the phone from his Paris office. "I was thinking about my message of intent when I first started the furniture: it was something like, 'a fur on a rock, next to a stone, in a cave.' And I literally built a rock, the rock that I wanted..." he laughs. Often Owens seeks to dumb his own complex ideas

down, but then he reels off his artistic influences. "There was Robert Mallet-Stevens, there was Brutalism, there was Marcel Breuer architecture and there were German bunkers." These precedents are all there, reworked into the aesthetics of the chunky, sliced-up boulders he calls chairs and tables, which challenge the notion of a designer's line of interiors as run-of-the-mill soft furniture. (There are pillows, insists Owens, which make all that rock crystal and petrified wood a little more comfortable.)

The creations of Owens can be seen at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, with a spectacular display featuring both pre-existing furniture and newly created pieces. There's no fashion involved, except a video of Owens draping a look from his spring/summer 2016 menswear show "Cyclops." There's also a collection of canvases by the late American contemporary artist Steven Parrino, whose punk-tinged work — cut, twisted, ripped, typically maltreated and mostly monochrome — has a direct aesthetic connection to Owens' avant-garde design and furniture. "The MOCA pieces have been more sculptural and less certainly decorated than they were before," says Owens. "It's kind of like a runway show for a museum exhibition. Do we really need a runway show to see the practical material, or do we need to see the story? Do we need to see commitment, evolution, and aspiration?

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