Sebastian Errazuriz opened the doors of his massive Brooklyn studio and walked us 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 of 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 a place and design is compartmentalized in a whole different area. Perhaps his way of thinking –and of creating objects, furniture and yes, art- sounds so familiar to me because I’m not only a designer but I'm 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.
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—which is what 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, it’s the innovation, the quality, the thinking outside the box.
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.
So you believe more in the transcendence of your pieces than the transcendence of "Sebastian The Artist and Designer"?
We all need recognition, it’s important that people celebrate the creations that I put out. Especially since I’m in my dungeon- and then I release something to the world and people react to my creations. Maybe when I’m 80 years old, have a retrospective, bring all the objects and pieces I have created and put them all together in a giant warehouse and invite people to look at them again, it will all make sense. If you see how people live and how their lives are, you know that everything is always changing, nothing stays the same in someone's life, paradoxically, the only constant is change. That’s what I’m after. We may be aware that life is short and that we should not do things to just please others. There are paradigms that we must break in order to be able to innovate, to access creativity.
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”.
Ha! Yes, you know, 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?
I want to live with your pieces and I have shown 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.
Yes, I have rebelled against some things of my own life, like the super strict and closed Chilean society, or you know, because we are Latins, and there is still so much classicism, racism and things like that that 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 I were 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.
You are so prolific; I love the shoe collection you did for Melissa.
Yes, 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 and we released the collection during Art Basel Miami Beach last year, but Melissa will actually make the shoes available for sale this year.
What is your most immediate project?
I have a show coming up at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. It starts on February 14th (Valentine’s Day) and it’s called “Tough Love”. It analyzes current issues that deal with justice, the courts, the legal system. It also has to do with the role that cultural institutions play nowadays in response to those issues. The show is 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 that are never found or found when it is too late and nobody seems to be responsible for anything. There are pieces that I have designed that deal with citizenship and illegal immigrants. It is about many problems that we are facing in current times, that I’d like to bring awareness to and we want to raise funds to help alleviate some of the problems that arise out of these situations. It’s a very interesting project.
Tough Love opens on February 14th at the Storefront for Art and Architecture located on 97 Kenmare Square, New York.