Incredible as it may be, there was one form of artistic expression Karl Lagerfeld had not yet sunk his teeth into – up until now, that is. Marble sculpture, that metamorphic rock created with recrystallized carbonate minerals, is the latest experiment for Lagerfeld to master. Following a previous collaboration on the recent renovation of the Hôtel de Crillon, Lagerfeld and Lebanese architect Aline Asmar D’Amman, founder of Culture Architecture interior design firm and currently working on the Eiffel Tower Jules Verne restaurant revamp, tackled the primal stone, much used during the Age of Antiquity. Lagerfeld refers to the period as the origin of beauty, culture, and modernity. Together, they created a timeless collection of eight pieces in each marble color – solid tables, fountains, mirrors, and lamps appearing like ancient temples made anew – currently on view at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris until December 23. Vogue Arabia speaks with the two designers about the limited-edition monochromatic collection titled Architectures.
Originally printed in the December 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.
How did this collaboration with Aline come to be? Was it a long time in the making?
KARL LAGERFELD: I progress blindfolded; when I remove the mask, there’s a surprise. I love things that aren’t planned. Collections are planned. The marble furniture wasn’t. I sketched it in a few seconds, thinking that’s good, why don’t we do it like that? The process is not as premeditated as you think. It’s spontaneous, like everything I do. I’m totally improvised, I improvise. At one glance, it works or it doesn’t.
Is there a particular reference that unites the collection?
ALINE ASMAR D’AMMAN: In Karl’s drawing, you’ll find the iconic proportions of the golden rectangle. It’s yet one more reference to Antiquity. It’s the perfect proportion, an equation which produces absolute geometry.
Tell us about this specific marble. What makes it unique and from where did you source it?
AAD: Karl chose a rare marble called Arabescato Fantastico from quarries closed for 30 years. Now, the stones are sold as antiques.
KL: These are precious stones, and the quarries are exhausted because they have been used for thousands of years. It’s black and white, but a black with striation, almost gray. It’s not a hard contrast of black and white. It does exist, but for the furniture and lamps, we wanted something softer, less contrasted, not as hard.
Karl, you are renowned for conducting a symphony of exactitudes. Marble is a brutal stone. What was especially maneuvered here in order to manipulated it as desired?
AAD: For the pedestal table heights, Karl was very precise. Each time he looked at a piece, a difference of two or three centimeters had an impact on the attitude.
KL: It’s not as high as a dining table and it’s not a coffee table; it’s in-between. That’s important. It’s actually very practical. In Germany, at the time of my parents and grandparents, a married woman never sat on a sofa with a man who wasn’t her husband. There were only armchairs around the tables, no sofas. Sofas were for the boudoir.
How can clients best accent such marble furniture in a home setting?
AAD: A feature of the lamps is a bright white light. The white light perfectly matches Karl’s aesthetic criteria. It doesn’t distort the marble’s color, paying homage to the beauty of the veined stones.
KL: I only like white lights. Where I work and live with my famous cat, Choupette, the lighting imitates natural daylight. I detest darkness. I hate waking up in the dark, as I wouldn’t wake up at all.
Aline, you’ve previously collaborated with Karl. Do you have a memorable takeaway from this creative partnership?
AAD: Karl taught me that everything comes together: Literature, poetry, architecture, photography, fashion, and music. All of that appears in one sentence or drawing and that’s incredible.
Karl, of all the references, what in particular strikes a chord within you about Ancient Greece?
KL: One of the first books I read was Homer’s Iliad. I love Greek mythology. I regret abandoning Ancient Greek when I left school. I love the expression “modern mythology.” There’s nothing really new but it’s timeless, never out of fashion. I’m inspired by the perfect proportions of Greek columns. They truly are the standards for beauty, fixed once and for all. They didn’t know about bad taste. Nothing is more modern than Antiquity.
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