Fashionable furniture collectors, take note: Russian-born, New York-based designer Harry Nuriev—known for his smart, Instagrammable interiors (think: retro Soviet influence meets an artistically inclined Patrick Bateman)—has made use of Balenciaga discards in the form of a large sofa that will debut at this upcoming Design Miami. The colorful couch, which took two months to create, is an official collaboration between the brand and Nuriev. The piece is made from materials that have been upcycled from Nuriev’s former projects and, of course, the offcuts and unsellable garb of Balenciaga.
The clothing-packed couch comes after Nuriev created a Balenciaga-themed office space for Design Miami 2018: a warped workplace reality that included a desk chair covered in white fabric with traditional Russian embroidery. Like much of Nuriev’s style and the design ethos of Demna Gvasalia-era Balenciaga, the sofa has a slick chic that dips into ’90s blow-up chair nostalgia. But its glossy plastic overlay is not your grandmother’s couch cover: It is scrapped transparent vinyl. “I want that nostalgic feeling but in a new modern, super high technology way,” Nuriev says. The heart of the couch is made of a mannequin base wrapped with Balenciaga clothing from collections that span several years. “We had boxes of clothes in our apartment,” says Nuriev. “It was just sitting in their warehouse.” (The clothes were delivered by Balenciaga.) The garments are either damaged, unsold, or leftovers from previous seasons of the house. The effect is a bright kaleidoscope of clothing with shocks of primary colors—some stamped with ”Balenciaga”— as if the merchandise was beautifully stuffed into a glass-door dryer. As Nuriev notes, the image is simply reminiscent of a pile of clothes. “I remember the pile of clothes from when you dress up,” he says. ”It is always a random pattern of colors but is beautiful.”
Nuriev stresses that his memory serves as his biggest influence in his designs. If the sofa’s “L” shape and La-Z Boy-style footrest insert feels comically dated, it isn’t by mistake. Nuriev took the shape from what he refers to as his “trash library of shapes,” noting that shapes, like physical materials, can also be recycled. “I just take the shape and I rethink it,” he says. Nuriev specifically referenced the couch silhouette from his childhood home in the Russian Caucasus region during the ’90s and early ’00s. “I love these ugly sofas,” says Nuriev. “It was the first sofa shape I had and I would sit there with my family and with my grandma and grandpa. I was so little; my body was small so the sofa was really big compared to me.”
Nuriev’s creation coincides with a moment when luxury and fast fashion brands are questioning how they dispose of their unsold clothing. (Last year, H&M and Burberry came under fire for burning their surplus of stock.) It is refreshing to see an artist reinterpreting unworn, unwearable-by-retail-standards clothing into a different concept, specifically home furnishing. (Nuriev aims to eventually make his design firm Crosby Studio fully sustainable.) The designer hopes that his concept will translate to other designers, too. “It is important to me to show young designers that you can work with upcycled things, you can execute it in a beautiful way, in the right shape, and with the right material,” he says. Sitting in a pile of clothes has never looked, or felt, so good.
Originally Appeared on Vogue