“Nothing is fragile”: Willo Perron on his new collection focused on comfort
You have probably already seen Willo Perronis work, even if you don’t realize it. The multi-hyphenated designer, whose work fluctuates in size and scale while possessing a clean, minimalist line, is an industrious force with a resume as varied as it is star-studded. He created a flying Ferrari for Ducktouring with Migos, won a Grammy for Best Recording Package for St. Vincentthe scrapbook of Masseduction, designed a pop-up store for Kim Kardashian, fashion shows for Rihanna, offices for Jay Z, and with Kanye West, spearheaded the creation of the 2018 PornHub Awards.
His last show No coaster, is decidedly down to earth. Drawing inspiration from the elemental elements of Southern California, where Perron has lived for nearly 20 years, his new furniture collection is all about “comfort, comfort, comfort.” The work, presented until November 20 at Matter, is both playful and practical. A cream-colored “Dino table” and matching bench are sturdy enough to withstand everything from wine glasses to toddlers, because conviviality is a priority for Perron.
Before the opening of the show, Perron spoke with VF about the 70s cartoons that inspired the furniture, why nobody would want to break into their house and why it’s better to be tactile.
vanity lounge: You’ve lived in Southern California for about 20 years. Why have you now chosen to create work inspired by this space?
Willo Perron: My home is this truly serene place, and I find so much comfort there. LA offered it to me. I’m not a pro-LA person by any stretch of the imagination, I love it [in New York City] and I love it in Europe. My home happens to be in Los Angeles. I think it allowed me to decompress and then create these things that are supposed to exist in a serene and zen way. The Southern California look comes from the desert color palette, mostly beiges, taupes and browns.
The show’s philosophy, No Coasters, means these objects are meant to be inhabited. Whereas in a gallery or museum, the public can be very nervous about interacting with something, even if it is an explicitly interactive experience. Would you say that this show directly opposes that apprehension?
Yes. Nothing is fancy. The only thing that makes this maybe a bit fanciful is that I care about quality, materials and construction, so there is an inherent cost. But everything is made to be used. You can walk on the table. Nothing is fragile. I think the gift of modernism was that they used things that were really functional and practical, and those things are beautiful. That’s how I approach most things. People at my house always tell me, “Should I put a coaster underneath? I say to myself “No, absolutely not”. If we’re not far enough in time that we can’t create a table that you can put a glass of red wine on, we’ve really disadvantaged ourselves. We have self-driving cars, but can’t make a table you can put that glass of red wine on?
That reminds me Jane Birkin’s Birkin bag-she put stickers on it and tied beads around it. It is considered a very high class object, but its namesake treats it like any other bag.
It’s utilitarian for her. Perhaps in time these items will become fetishistic or collectible, but in the present they are meant to be used as much as humanly possible. Everything I do is for comfort, fun and pleasure.
Have you ever wondered how these objects, along with all the work you’ve created, will live on in a digital space, on Instagram or TikTok?
I think what’s more interesting is owning a physical thing. I always say there’s nothing to steal from me. What are you gonna take? There are works of art, but unless you know who they are, they are of no value to you. What, are you gonna get a couch? You can’t drag a marble table. The value of objects goes further and further away. I think what will happen is that things will become simpler – the house will become more focused on those essential things. People are going to move further and further away from ornamentation because they’ll have decorated something in the metaverse. This is where all these items are. These are not physical things they need to move from house to house or apartment to apartment.