The blend of artisanship and modern craftsmanship was on display Tuesday night when Victorinox hosted an intimate dinner at New York’s NoMad hotel to showcase a unique collaboration.
As part of The Makers campaign, the Switzerland-based brand commissioned Los Angeles-based furniture artist Stephen Kenn to create three pieces inspired by the brand. The furniture was front and center at the dinner, along with some highlights from Victorinox’s fall and spring collections.
“This year, everything is about craftsmanship and artisans,” said Jason Gallen, Victorinox’s president and chief executive officer of global apparel. In the apparel collection, this translated into pieces that sported “Old World workwear” influences “twisted” with modern techniques and fabrics, he said. For example, the fall line offers a machine workers’ vest in moleskin with laser eyelets and bonded zippers. Japanese selvage is used for jeans in a trouser silhouette and a moleskin dobby fabric mimics the apron of a blacksmith. The spring line offers a “chore coat” or bomber in a water- and wind-resistant fabric with bungee cord button closures. A raincoat employs a printed bonded cotton to update the classic silhouette.
With this as the backdrop, Gallen said the company was searching for artisans in different industries with a similar philosophy to showcase for its marketing campaign. And it found Kenn. “What he created is clever and relevant and aligned to our overreaching theme,” he said.
Kenn said he readily agreed to the commission when he was approached by the company since he had such vivid memories of the brand’s Swiss Army knife he had as a child. “My dad gave me one as a kid,” he said, recalling how all the pieces emerged and fit snugly back into their slots. “So I thought, how do I translate that into furniture?’”
Kenn created a chair that converts into a stepladder; a desk that turns into a drafting table, and a multifaceted storage column, or “high credenza” that can double as a cupboard, a bar cart or a message board, he said.
The chair will retail for $1,200, the desk for $2,500 and the storage column for $4,500, he said, and they will be available on Kenn’s web site starting in September. Kenn will also discuss his Stephen Kenn for Victorinox collection at a workshop for Victorinox on “Curiosity Led Design” at Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire, England from Aug. 4 to 7.
Gallen said he was quite pleased with the way Kenn’s collection turned out, noting, “It’s not gimmicky. And it’s great to see how our values are relevant in other industries.”
In addition to Kenn, Victorinox is also working with perfumer Quentin Bisch who created Victorinox Rock, a men’s fragrance; chef Nenad Mlinarevic and artist Kyle Bean, who created the cover for the company’s magazine, Victorinox, The Makers, which will come out for fall-winter 2016-17.