When R&B meets A&D...
Increasingly, some of our favourite entertainers are making a bold leap and branching into the world of design, lifestyle and luxury goods. Where fashion, perfumes and homewares have long been the stomping ground of celebrities wanting to "spread their creative wings" (and collect sizeable pay-checks along the way), the realm of architecture, interiors and industrial design has largely been untouched by thespians and musicians.
Whilst many of the often wishy-washy ventures into this arena can be seen as nothing more than short lived marketing grabs, there is undeniably a compatibility that streams between pursuits of creativity and, on occassion, it would seem some of our screen and stereo stars do genuinely pack some creative clout in their appreciation for, and involvement with A&D projects.
Spotlight on: Pharrell Williams.
DESIGN MIAMI 2010: local boy, musician and sought after producer Pharrell Williams once again dropped in to take part whilst the circus was in town. Williams joined a panel including Silvia Venturini Fendi and Ron Arad to:
investigate the role of craftsmanship and human creativity at the inception of a song, performance, exhibit, fashion collection, architectural project, design object, or other creative endeavour.
No stranger to self-promotion he also recently threw open the doors of his pop-infused Miami Penthouse to famed photographer Todd Selby from TheSelby.com. Not content with hiring the latest celebrity interior designer, Pharrell capitalised on his own inherent creativity, turning the pad into a space more reminiscent of a modern art gallery with pieces by Kaws and Keith Haring dominating the domed multi-storey atrium. Exercising what can best be described as a considered, minimalism his home sits at odds with much of the gaudy extravagance that has become synonymous with celebrity decorating we've become accustomed to via shows like MTV's "Cribs".
Pride of place is also given to Pharrell's own exploration into Industrial Design such as his controversial "Perspective Chair" 2008 for French outfit Domeau & Pérès. (Since then Williams has gone on to design "Tank Chair" and a one-off fixed-gear bicycle that features yellow dyed water buffalo hide in its construction).
Approaching his passion for design from a much larger scale is Brad Pitt. Widely recognised as a design hound, Pitt has more recently indulged his interest through charitable works. Focussed on the New Orleans area with his Make It Right (MIR) Foundation, Pitt sees the widespread damage from Hurricane Katrina reversed through a highly respected redesign and rebuild program. The much publicised exercise is one that demands of the invited designers a strong appreciation for 'green' processes, investing in each home a longterm, durable vision for the property and a sympathetic aesthetic that continues the traditional typologies for the New Orleans area.
Beyond this, Pitt - a self confessed design addict (reported to have spent over $1M USD in one day at Design Miami) cites Charles Rennie MacKintosh, Kenneth Cobonpue and Frank Gehry amongst his favourite creatives. Credited with largely introducing the US to the wonder that is Filipino talent Kenneth Cobonpue, and already having collaborated with Gehry on small projects, his involvement in the GRAFT designed (Zaha Hadid, like) ecologically responsible hotel in Dubai, arguably sees Brad Pitt's credibility in design circles increase with each project.
Heard it all before? ...Still not impressed? Then perhaps the last word is best left to Babs.
After 46 years of recording albums, producing films, treading the boards, gracing the silver screen and directing... last year she launched her first book as author. Barbra Streisand introduced the world to her passion: design, in a book imaginatively titled: "My Passion For Design". A tome of tips that among the gems will outline why and how she matched the black and white Carp in her expansive pond network to:
the trim of the house, the shutters, the awnings...