Luxury fashion houses want you to take the chair
For the longest time, flagship stores of luxury brands have been veritable department stores. Just walk into any one of them and you’ll know what we mean. You won’t just find the usual clothes, bags, shoes, and accessories (all of them large enough categories on their own), but other merchandise not connect to what we employ to communicate a bodily fashion statement. There other stuff: cushions and blankets (even a ‘burger box’) at Louis Vuitton, vases and pitchers at Dior, plates and such at Hermes, camping ware at Prada. These brands set up pop stores too to show that homeware, especially during the holiday season, is as easy to sell as ready-to-wear. And now, two brands not usually associated with home interiors are offering, not cute little items such as a table figurine, but chairs and a bench!
Bottega Veneta is known for their artisanal ways with leather. If they were to put out chairs, you’d think they would be in some beautifully tanned hide. But their first chairs for sale are in mostly resin (the composition includes, interestingly, cotton and wood), and they look like coloured wax melted into each other and then hardened. These chairs were part of BV’s spring/summer 2023 show, those that the guests sat on (are some or all, therefore, used?). Named Come Stai? (Italian for “how are you?), they are designed by the Italian artist/architect Gaetano Pesce under the commission of Matthieu Blazy. The chairs are now available at the Bottega Veneta website, with an eye-watering starting price tag of S$9,900.
And then you have Balenciaga offering something to sit on too. Their chair is actually a bench. It is part of the brand‘s Art in Store output, made of deadstock fabrics (essentially remnants), Wood is used too, which likely makes the bench steadier. Up close, it is hard to see it as anything more than a pile of fabric, something a karung guni man with used clothes he can‘t sell might assemble in his free time to better organise his storage space. But this bench is the handiwork of the Dutch designer Tejo Remy, who is also an award-winning creative at Droog Design. The bench is available in three sizes, and different fabrics. The one pictured—‘Large Bench’— is priced at a staggering S$63,600. You can view it at the Paragon store.
Are these pieces of furniture that covetable or are buyers hoping to acquire them as investment pieces since they come in extremely limited pieces (there are reportedly 400 pieces of the BV chairs, which is still a small number). Is there hope that one day these chairs will be as rare and expensive as the almost-mythical Comme des Garçons furniture? Rei Kawakubo designed some chairs too—for her stores in Tokyo and Paris in 1983. They were used as props and were not made to be practicable. Yet, there was sufficient interest in them and limited-edition production ensued. In fact, a furniture store opened in the late ’80s in Place du Marché Saint-Honoré, Paris. It isn’t known how well the pieces faired, but the store eventually closed to make way for the brand’s perfume shop. Some of us do remember the CDG furniture. And that is clearly enough for them to qualify as grail.
Photos: respective brands