This past December, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles put on an exhibit of Rick Owens’s furniture. If you missed the show, which closed on April 2nd, you can still get the belatedly released book that provides a glimpse into that part of Owens’s oeuvre. Though to say that it’s Owens’s work is a bit of a misnomer, since even though the line carries his name, it’s equally masterminded by his wife, Michele Lamy, a creative force in her own right.
And that’s what the book, published by Rizzoli ($65), underscores. The hardcover 200-page volume holds as many photographs, ranging from Owens’s and Lamy’s legendary Parisian home and all the furniture in it to the pieces that have been specifically designed for the exhibit (many of the pieces had to be constructed in Los Angeles).
It is a good summary of the Rick Owens universe, which manages to bring together marble and plywood, rock crystal and concrete, alabaster and foam into a counterintuitive symbiosis that gives new meaning to old materials and levels the values we normally assign to them; in the same way Rick Owens has elevated cotton jersey and denim in his fashion work, while demolishing cashmere and virgin wool into unrecognizability.
The book is interspersed with quotes from Owens and Lamy. In its opening pages, Owens, with his typical self-deprecating charm, describes throwing a pair of reading glasses across the room, exasperated at not getting a straight answer from Lamy, only to realize that “Straight answers might be pointless when it comes to the furniture we make together,” and “Her organic chaos can really fistfuck my concrete brutalism.”
As an object, the book fits into Owens’s and Lamy’s unadorned, raw brutalist tendencies – it’s square, with cover made of untreated cardboard. Its paper dust jacket unfolds into a poster, which is ruined by the ISBN code that sits smack in its middle (whose bright idea was that?). In any case, the insides of the book will have you brim with interior envy. Might as well make it brutal.