MILAN — Pierre Cardin needs no introduction and it was clearly so in Milan on Monday, as the legendary couturier made a personal appearance at Carla Sozzani’s 10 Corso Como store to present 28 furniture designs from the Seventies and Eighties from his private collection.
Clusters of unabashed fans formed around the designer, angling for photos and autographs, or looking to share anecdotes and greetings. Cardin graciously responded to a flow of well-wishers that appeared to be endless until Sozzani helped whisk him to her private office for a WWD interview. And even then, as the designer was sitting down, someone followed him waving a vintage Cardin record and asking for an autograph. “You see, I did everything, I have no limits, even this,” said Cardin with a smile, referring to the LP as he proceeded to put his signature on the cover.
His appearance in Milan was a rare one and coincided with the city’s international design and furniture fair Salone del Mobile. “We’ve been friends for a very long time and Carla asked me to bring my furniture here. This is the most interesting place and like a home,” explained the designer of the decision to hold “Pierre Cardin. Les Sculptures Utilitaires” at the venue. Sozzani giggled, pointing to Cardin’s storied lamp produced by Yamada Shomei — a universal symbol of sexual union. “I didn’t know that’s what it stood for. And it’s a reference to creativity. Genius, isn’t it?” she said.
All pieces are in lacquered wood, ranging from a bar cabinet with a design reminiscent of a pair of lips and a wooden red lacquered chest shaped as a pyramid, to a laminated wood coffee table, a varnish wood T-shaped commode, a white Perspex “Balloon” lamp, or a black lacquered wood sideboard.
“My interest in furniture dates back to when I was eight years old,” said Cardin, while sipping a glass of white wine, alternately speaking French, Italian and English. “My friend’s father was a carpenter and one day instead of going out to play we tried making small wooden objects. That gave me kind of a direction. After 25 years, I asked myself, why don’t I do furniture? But it must be different from anyone else’s. Furniture is sculpture for me and I think as a sculptor.”
Cardin’s futuristic shapes contrast with the traditional wood and lacquer. “Lacquer, while used in China and Japan, was kind of forgotten,” he observed.
His travels around the world fueled his inspiration. “Traveling helps understand what other people do, remember the past, see different cultures, but then you must translate what you see into something totally different — never copy. I was copied a lot.”
As for his own personal taste at home, Cardin said he collects “furniture from any era and any country.” He also underscored that his more modern designs were not on show. “I can do more modern furniture,” he noted. “All that I see I transform in objects.”
Cardin’s designs are on display at Galleria Carla Sozzani in 10 Corso Como until May 1. A sample of his fashion looks are also on display at the store.