Five times fashion flirted with furniture design

Five times fashion flirted with furniture design

by Ollie Cox
6 min

Fashion and furniture have long influenced each other, and honestly it’s no surprise. Clothing designers have a tendency to look beyond the immediacy of the fashion world and to other creative disciplines, whether that be art, sculpture, or furniture, and as a result, interior trends frequently run in parallel with the trends that we see on the runway. 

This creative symbiosis has seen designers successfully try their hand at fashioning furniture, moving their creativity from the body and into new, more permanent spaces. But it isn’t only a one-way relationship; oftentimes, furniture designers have had their works used by fashion Houses to help contribute to the sense of worldbuilding that is so integral to the clothing we see on the runway each season. 

From Bottega’s Veneta’s scorched custom Le Corbusier stools at its Fall/Winter 2024 show to Rei Kawakubos’ short-lived furniture stint in the 1980s, fashion has often flirted with the world of furniture design. We’ve rounded up five of our favourite furnishings from this fruitful creative crossover below.

Rei Kawakubo’s form-first approach

You might know Rei Kawakubo for her iconoclastic avant-garde designs, which grace Parisian catwalks each season. But in the 1980s, Kawakubo crafted one-off tables and chairs for her stores in Paris and Tokyo, which caught the eye of shoppers and industry insiders who visited. The furniture was designed in the same vein as Comme des Garçons clothing, where deconstruction and asymmetry led to its design-led approach. The chairs were often uncomfortable and finished with steel slings and metal rods, riding the line between art pieces and furniture. Of course, actually finding these pieces is another story, with each item being extremely hard to come by, thanks to their limited quantities. 

Kiko Kostadinov’s take on Kazuhide Takahama’s “Naeko” collection

Kiko Kostadinov’s 2023 crossover into furniture design for Milan Design Week saw the Bulgarian-born, London-based designer bring his signature take on brutalist uniforms to upholstery. The story behind Takahama’s original “Naeko” collection was that he designed and dedicated the project to Naeko, who would then become his wife. For the project, Kiko Kostadinov upholstered the “Naeko” sofa using fabrics which drew inspiration from his future wife, Deanna Fanning, using the patterns used in Deanna and her twin sister Laura’s graduate collection. Also crafted as part of the collection was a take on the “Naeko” lamp in a playful blue and green check, serving as Kiko Kosatadinov’s own stamp on Takahama’s minimalism. 

Rick Owens’ comfort-comes-second brutalism

Rick Owens possesses a rare allure, piquing the interest of fashion obsessives, rappers, and aloof downtown art heads alike with his signature take on brutalism. The designer made his first foray into furniture in 2007 with his wife, Michèlle Lamy. The two brought their creative minds together to merge brutality with detail-driven design. Rick Owens furniture can be characterised by its hard-edged, imposing style, akin to sculpture. These brutalist beauties look great, but “comfort isn’t everything,” as Owens famously told the New York Times in 2017, so don’t expect them to be the answer to your agonising back problems. 

While Rick Owens furniture can hold its own in the art world, as its inclusion in a 2016 Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition showed, it also serves as a key pillar in the brand’s worldbuilding approach. It invites us into his dark, romantic avant-garde by creating pieces with a permanence beyond clothing that supplements the brand’s clothing pieces. 

Gaetano Pesce’s resin runway seats for Bottega Veneta 

For its Spring/Summer 2023 show, Bottega Veneta worked with the late Italian artist and architect Gaetano Pesce to create a colour-soaked show space where 400 resin chairs sat atop a resin-poured floor. The occasion not only reflected the House of Bottega Veneta’s longstanding practice of working with artists and makers from around the world but also Creative Director Matthieu Blazy’s longstanding admiration for Pesce. Titled “Come Stai?” which translates to “How are you?” in English, Pesce’s colourful chairs snaked around the runway. Each style was completely unique, reflecting the individual qualities humans possess. The stools were available to purchase during 2022’s Miami Design Fair. 

More recently, for its Fall/Winter 2024 collection, Bottega Veneta again fused fashion and furniture for its show space as guests sat on custom Le Corbusier LC14 Cabanon stools. These stools featured a scorched wood finish, mirroring the treatment given to the show flooring, again reflecting the worlds of art and craft that are so integral to Bottega Veneta. As part of his role as Creative Director for Bottega Veneta, Blazy oversees the interior design of stores, often blending traditional Italian materials with a modernist sensibility in line with Bottega Veneta’s commitment to craft. In January this year, before opening a new Milan store, Blazy shared how he uses space to juxtapose tradition and modernism. “I wanted to express the idea of a domestic interior referring to Italian modernist architecture that contrasts with the aesthetic of a spaceship. And to capture the intimacy and the imagination of getting dressed.”

Virgil Abloh’s everyday subversions with IKEA

The late Virgil Abloh’s immense impact on fashion broke down barriers and led the way for a new generation of talent. His roles at his own label, Off-White, and as Artistic Director of Menswear at Louis Vuitton led to the designer carving his own path of luxury, and his work in design is equally distinct. In 2019, the late designer unveiled his “MARKERAD” collection with the global home furnishing brand, offering subtle subversions on everyday, accessible furniture. 

These thoughtful reworkings gave fans a chance to access highly considered homeware at a fraction of the usual costs that come with it. Everyday wooden chairs featured triangular doorstops to the bottom of chair legs and reflected a playful creativity that could be enjoyed by everyone, in keeping with the collaboration’s aim of designing with young millennials moving into their own space in mind. The collection encapsulated the shared design spirit of fashion and furniture and the extent of Abloh’s design language. 

Cover Image: @gaetano.pesce

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