Sebastian Errazuriz opened the doors of his massive Brooklyn studio and walked me through each and every piece inside of it. Generous with his time, eloquent, funny, charming and direct, this Chilean-born artist and designer is one of the most interesting movers and shakers in the contemporary art and design world.
Sebastian is leaving an indelible mark with his unexpected creations and giving the finger to those who think that art belongs to one place and that design is compartmentalized in a whole different area. Perhaps his way of thinking – and of creating objects, furniture and yes, art – sound so familiar to me because I’m not only a designer but also an art advisor. I do both and combine them to maximize the benefits of each – and nobody can tell me that I cannot do it my way.
This year Sebastian’s work was chosen for his first retrospective exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, which will run until January 2015. The show has garnered critical acclaim, and Sebastian, who is only 37, has many more ambitious plans for the future. This is just the beginning.
I like that you don’t let anybody dictate what to do or how to do it, and I also like that you have a style that is not easily identifiable. The art and design world are always expecting to pigeonhole artists and designers in one style, so that the “branding” process can kick in and then the selling process becomes easier. However, your immense talent somehow pours out of all your pieces and people are drawn to that: the innovation, the quality, the thinking outside the box.
Sebastian Errazuriz: Yes, I don’t want people to dictate how or what comes out of this studio. I don’t like being labeled. I pay attention to the quality. Ultimately, people like it and I love that people know that I make things that seduce, that keep people interested. In this society where everything is overly exposed and everyone shows everything on social media, it’s super important to be extremely creative. I don’t want to bore myself or bore people and that to me is much more valuable than having a definitive style.
MB: I’m always drawn to what you do and your pieces no matter where they are: I may stumble upon one of them at Art Basel Miami Beach or Design Miami or in the house of a collector, and I still need to go and see up close who made the object – and then I know it’s yours. For example, this past December, I loved so much that you had all those cabinets exhibited next to each other at Design Miami and one of them said “Of Course it’s Art, You Fool”.
SE: (Laughs) The lines are totally blurred nowadays and Design Miami is the sister fair of Art Basel and it’s not supposed to show any “art” in the strict sense of what “art” means. However, these cabinets are art, of course they are, but they are objects because they are pieces that are functional, their doors open and you can store things inside. In a way, I’m making fun of the whole thing, because who determines what’s art and what’s design?
MB: I want to live with your pieces and I show them to my clients, too, and recommend your work to them. I believe you make objects and put words on your work that people can’t say themselves. It makes everything so much cooler. Like that massive “Blow Me” piece that you did for the Collective Design Fair opening edition of 2012.
SE: Yes, I have rebelled against some things in my own life, like the super-strict and closed Chilean society. We are Latin, and there is still so much classicism, racism and things like that, which really don’t make us look too advanced. That behavior is not very positive and/or aligned with our times. And that is why I think also that my pieces are appealing. I only create things that I have designed and looked at over and over again a million times, because they come from me and my life and my experiences – but also, if I’m completely in love with them, someone else will be too. That giant wall with drawings is where I keep images of all my designs and I look at them many, many times until I choose one that will become an actual piece.
MB: You are so prolific; I love the shoe collection you did for Melissa.
SE: I was so honored to be a part of that. Last year Melissa only worked with Karl Lagerfeld, Jason Wu and me. I designed each shoe based on a experience that I had with different girlfriends (or lovers) that I’ve had. We released the collection during Art Basel Miami Beach last year, but Melissa will actually make the shoes available for sale this year.
MB: I also enjoyed what you did in the beginning of the year at the Storefront for Art and Architecture.
SE: Yes, it opened on Valentine’s Day and we called it “Tough Love”. It analyzes current issues that deal with justice, the courts, and the legal system. It also has to do with the role that cultural institutions play nowadays in response to those issues. That show was about creating awareness through art about all of these massive shootings that are so tragic and then seem to be forgotten. Or about other situations, like missing children who are never found, or who are found when it is too late and nobody seems to be responsible for anything. There were pieces that I designed that deal with citizenship and illegal immigrants. That show was about many problems that we are facing in current times.
MB: The retrospective at the Carnegie Museum of Art is a big deal.
SE: Yes, and I’m so happy that it went exactly the way I envisioned. I’m grateful for that and look forward to the future with great enthusiasm and optimism. It’s been an amazing year.