Numéro - - English text - By Os­car Du­boÿ

A re­co­gni­zed connois­seur of the de­co­ra­tive arts, su­per­star cou­tu­rier Karl La­ger­feld is now un­vei­ling a new fa­cet of his over flo­wing ta­lent with a sculp­tu­ral fur­ni­ture col­lec­tion, co-pro­du­ced with the Pa­ris branch of the Car­pen­ters Work­shop Gal­le­ry, that takes ins­pi­ra­tion from an­cient Greece and Rome.

Few who were present will for­get the ma­jor 1991 So­the­by’s auc­tion in Mo­na­co, which re­vea­led to the world the im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of Mem­phis pieces that Karl La­ger­feld had ga­the­red about him in his Monte- Car­lo home. He’s mo­ved house se­ve­ral times since then, and amas­sed, over the years, a large col­lec­tion of fa­mous de­si­gners, from Süe and Mare to Marc New­son, not for­get­ting his pro­noun­ced pen­chant for the 18th cen­tu­ry. In­deed his ex­per tise in the de­co­ra­tive ar ts is a se­cret to ab­so­lu­te­ly no one, so it comes as lit­tle sur­prise to see that, in part­ner­ship with the Pa­ris branch of the Car­pen­ters Work­shop Gal­le­ry, the re­now­ned cou­tu­rier has fi­nal­ly laun­ched his ve­ry own col­lec­tion of luxu­ry fur­ni­ture, which was un­vei­led to the pu­blic this au­tumn.

There are 11 pieces in all – pe­des­tal and di­ning tables, lamps, loo­king glasses, etc. – or ra­ther 11 “Ar­chi­tec­tures,” since that’s what he’s de­ci­ded to call these new pro­ducts of his over­flo­wing ima­gi­na­tion. The de­si­gna­tion is just right, since ins­tead of legs they fea­ture marble co­lumns hol­ding them up, which, a bit like a so­phis­ti­ca­ted set of child’s buil­ding blocks, su­per­im­pose dif­ferent types of flu­ting (car­ved in­to the sur­face of the stone) to achieve a ve­ry gra­phic re­sult. The col­lec­tion is a high­ly per­so­nal take on an­cient Greece, adap­ting it for our era, a po­si­tion La­ger­feld ex­plains by saying, “Everything ends up being da­ted ex­cept that. That’s the beau­ty of stan­dards. No­thing is more mo­dern than an­ti­qui­ty.” Ar­chi­tect Aline As­mar d’Am­man, who over­saw the de­ve­lop­ment of the col­lec­tion, points out the har­mo­ny of its lines, which conform to the clas­sic ca­nons of beau­ty: “These per­fect pro­por­tions are all in Karl’s dra­wings… A cen­ti­metre more or a cen­ti­metre less would to­tal­ly change the look of these pieces.”

While As­mar d’Am­man had al­rea­dy wor­ked with the cou­tu­rier on two suites at the Hô­tel de Crillon, it was the first col­la­bo­ra­tion with him for Loïc Le Gaillard and Ju­lien Lom­brai l, the foun­ders of the Car­pen­ters Work­shop Gal­le­ry. “Karl was a client of ours to start with, and then one day he came and pro­po­sed this pro­ject,” re­calls Lom­brail. “For us it was a true exer­cice de style, and we li­ked the idea of a per­fect piece. The fact that we al­so over­saw pro­duc­tion meant we could take in­to ac­count cer­tain prac­ti­cal es­sen­tials such as du­ra­bi­li­ty and lo­gis­tics, while still ma­king am­bi­tious de­si­gn. The marble was sha­ped by Ita­lian crafts­men in Vi­cen­za, and they ligh­te­ned the pieces by using a ho­ney­comb struc­ture which en­sures so­li­di­ty while kee­ping weight un­der 500 kg.” The ma­te­rial no­ne­the­less re­mains im­po­sing, with two types of marble ha­ving been used, black Ne­roMar­qu in aandw hi te Ara­bes­ca­to, which has be­come ex­tre­me­ly rare since the clo­sure of the Tus­can quar­ries. Black and white… La­ger­feld re­mains fai­th­ful to his vi­sion, lea­ving his mark on our times with ever grea­ter reach – even if this col­lec­tion is a li­mi­ted edi­tion ( of course!), a se­ries of just eight as well as four ar­tist’s proofs. Karl La­ger­feld, Ar­chi­tec­tures, Car­pen­ters Work­shop Gal­le­ry, Pa­ris, till 22 De­cem­ber.

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