Jun 10, 2011 12:00AM

Fashion Furniture

Fashion people trying their luck at interior design.

When we think of Hermes we think of silk scarves and luxury handbags —not tables and chairs. Well, get ready to switch gears, because Hermes has just released images of a furniture collection. Available as of September, the range has a clean, refined and minimalist feel to it. It reminds us of the fifties decor in Tom Ford's A Single Man, although inspiration actually derives from the designs of Jean-Michael Frank. Renown for his walls of rye-straw marquetry, sofas of creamy glove leather and screens dressed in mica, Frank is the maître of understatement. Hermès will re-release certain iconic pieces that Frank designed in 1924, including the Confortable armchair, a shagreen-covered vanity and an X-base dining table.

Hermès isn’t the only label making in-roads in the world of interior design. Discontent with incredible success in fashion, advertising and publishing, Acne has challenged IKEA as the stalwart of Swedish home wares. Acne’s furniture range pays homage to Carl Malmsten’s Nya Berlin (New Berlin) sofa, which was designed for the Swedish consulate in Berlin and hasn’t been in production since 1949. Acne stretched, squashed and pulled the simplistic shape to create new sculptural forms. The designs are upholstered with denim, which Acne bleached and hand-dyed using the same skill usually reserved for their jeans.

Haute-goth designer Rick Owens has more than lust-worthy leather leggings under his belt. Slick Rick used bones, antlers, coloured phenolic polywood and sensations borne of his fashion collections in constructing his line of furniture. Referencing everyone from Le Corbusier to Donald Judd, highlights include a curvilinear headboard above a low bed, a floor-to-ceiling sheared mink curtain and an elongated daybed with alabaster elements.

Italian fashion house Missoni has created its own interpretation of the Armchair 400, which was designed by Alvar Alto. The chair is part of the campaign Dress the chair!, which celebrates the 75th anniversary of Artek. Affectionately nicknamed 'The Tank', the armchair was first shown at the Milan Triennale in 1936. In the Artek and Missoni collaboration, the armchairs are upholstered with Missoni's colourful fabrics — Missoni Kew, Missoni Leigh and Missoni Chevron.

Alexandra von Furstenberg is the daughter-in-law of Diane von Furstenberg, and image director of the DvF brand. When she’s not busy reviving the company’s trademark seventies wrap dress, she makes Lucite tables and acrylic furniture. Given her eye for trends it’s no surprise that her first furniture collection, released in 2008, was heavy on fluorescents — the runways that season were full of highlighter-pink bandage dresses (at Narciso Rodriguez) and bright orange furs (at Michael Kors). Other couture labels trying their luck at interior design include Vivienne Westwood (who recently launched a range of wallpaper with British label Cole & So) and Maison Martin Margiela (who has fit out a number of five-star hotels). Ventures like these make us wonder — is there more to fashion than just standing around, looking good and hacking on cigarettes? After all, a well-dressed derriere deserves a decent place to sit.


Joanna Lowry