Harry Nuriev’s logo-emblazoned installation ‘The Office’ debuted at Design Miami/
Over the course of the last couple of years, we’ve seen a resurgence in the logo-mania that first gripped the world back in the early 00s, when the likes of Fendi, Dior, and Gucci splashed their monograms over… well, pretty much everything. As fashion fans around the world plunge themselves in the depths of eBay or head to resale sites in hot pursuit of OG Saddle bags and Baguettes, and the likes of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Karl Lagerfeld resurrect the motif for a new audience, there’s one artist who’s taken the trope even further.
Making its debut at the Design Miami/ show last week, The Office is made up of furniture you’re more likely to find, perhaps unsurprisingly, in a corporate office as opposed to a revered art show. There’s a classic swivel chair, a bulky air conditioning unit, and a photocopier. The similarities between these pieces and the standard issue items which you can likely see (or are sitting in) if you happen to be in an office right now end there, though, given each piece from The Office is emblazoned with Balenciaga’s unmistakable Sans Serif logo.
“For The Office, I drew both satirical and sentimental inspiration from my early professional life, when I worked as a lowly architect in the Moscow Parks & Recreation Department,” explains the artist behind the installation, Harry Nuriev of New York-based design bureau Crosby Studios. “My time there was unfulfilling, and I wanted to find a form of escape. The collection is emblematic of that moment in my career.”
As part of an exploration of Russian craft revivalism, the pieces are made from traditional materials as opposed to the plastic they are usually manufactured using. “It was a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek method of rendering functional objects obsolete – or perhaps repurposing their function,” says Nuriev. “Through the use of hand-carved wood, the printer console becomes a credenza, and the air conditioner a storage drawer. For these pieces, i used solid aspen wood. It’s an incredibly ugly honey colour, but I was really drawn to it. Otherwise, I referenced Russian embroidery to elevate the upholstery of the swivel chair and embellish a drab garment bag. It’s all about finding new methods of making the workplace stimulating.”
“I had a clear image of the Balenciaga-wearer walking the halls of The Office. And, of course, the brand has a history of repurposing populist imagery that really resonates with me” – Harry Nuriev
When it comes to why he chose to use the Balenciaga logo as opposed to that of any other house, Nuriev points to the label’s unique codes and the way in which it approaches fashion differently to any other brand – something he’s always respected. Seemingly, that respect is extended in the other direction, too, given Demna Gvasalia gave The Office his seal of approval, and allowed Nuriev to use its stamp as he wished.
“I found inspiration in Balenciaga’s exploration of office wear for millennials – or ‘neo-tailoring’ as Demna calls it,” says Nuriev. “The house is aesthetically aligned with the furniture I was trying to create. I had a clear image of the Balenciaga-wearer walking the halls of The Office. And, of course, the brand has a history of repurposing populist imagery that really resonates with me. I remember when I first discovered Balenciaga’s rear-view car window handbag in the Paris showroom. It was the most beautiful, remarkable piece I’ve ever seen!”
Now, following the debut of the installation, Nuriev is onto the next project – which could see him even more closely aligned to the Spanish fashion house than this project has had him. “My next move is to delve into fashion design,” he surmises. “I want to develop a collection inspired by my grandmother and my upbringing in the North Caucasus region of Russia. I’ve dreamed of being a fashion designer from day one, and I have no idea why the hell I still haven’t pursued my dream!” Could a collaboration be on the cards? “Who knows? I can only hope.”