Best of CH 2016: Interviews

Talking with some of the most interesting figures, established and emerging, in design and culture

As a journalist, one immediately knows when an interview is going well. There is an understanding, or even connection, between the subject and an interviewer. One’s goal is never to land a quote that makes a point, but to have a substantial dialogue that yields new ideas and truths. Being at the cross of lifestyle and design, our publication allows us to have dialogues with many fascinating categories of makers—and some who defy categorization. Over the last year we’ve conducted interviews with everyone from iconic fashion designers to emerging artists. The following eight represent some highlights, both for the insight they provided or for the fun we had along the way. If anything, we hope they inspire the want to go out and have a thoughtful conversation.

David de Rothschild, the Lost Explorer

British eco-explorer David de Rothschild has accomplished some incredible feats: he’s sailed 8,000 miles—from San Fransisco to Sydney—on a boat made from 12,500 plastic bottles, motorbiked through mountains in Mongolia, skied across the “white desert” of Antarctica and paddled down Brazil’s Xingu River to raise awareness about the environmentally devastating Belo Monte damn. And now, the modern-day Magellan has embarked on a new adventure by taking a deep-dive into the fashion industry with his sustainable lifestyle brand The Lost Explorer, which he sees as more a platform for creativity and knowledge-sharing than a place to simply pick up technical outerwear. (Although, we’re pretty sure he’d be the best person to look to for clothing that will protect you on a Polar expedition or keep you dry while swanning through waist-high snow during a New York blizzard.)

World Chess Championship’s Judit Polgar

Despite her myriad accomplishments, including election as the Woman Chess Player of the Century back in 2005, nothing quite sums up the inspirational power of Grand Master Judit Polgar. In the world of chess, she’s accrued most important title: from prodigy to champion. She drummed up interest for the game around the globe. She defeated some of the biggest names—household names in a competitive world that doesn’t produce many such names—and their records. Widely accepted as the best female chess player in recorded history, one can easily drop the gender from that statement and refer to her as one of the best. Two years ago, she retired from competition, but now Polgar returns in another way that will maximize her skill sets. She’s the official commentator at this year’s World Chess Championship taking place in NYC from 11-30 November. There, she’ll decipher the moves and strategies of Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin. Before the tournament commenced, we spoke with Polgar about the importance of it all.

Fashion Designer Christian Louboutin

Being in Christian Louboutin’s Paris studio is overwhelming. We meet Monsieur Christian Louboutin in his museum-like studio (like a tiny Louvre, which, coincidently, is just a few blocks away) for an exclusive preview of ShoePeaks, his latest (and possibly most imaginative) design. It’s a clutch, but it’s much more than that, since it’s a real sculpture and at the same time something organic and surreal, apparently derived from an elegant genetic manipulation, unusual yet sexy. However, the French-born designer’s enthusiasm for design in general—from architecture to shoes—is evident as our conversation flows from process, inspiration, a love of curves, and what success in the fashion industry means to him.

Land Rover’s Gerry McGovern on Modernizing a Brutalist Design

When you start a conversation with Gerry McGovern, Design Director and Chief Creative Officer for Land Rover, you never quite know where it’s going to end up. The occasion was the Paris Motor Show, where Land Rover has just debuted its newest, possibly most important vehicle in the past half decade, the new Land Rover Discovery. It goes on sale mid-next spring for $49,990, and as such, is one of the more obtainable SUVs in the Land Rover pantheon.

Designer Lee Broom

Built upon the pillars of crystal, marble, brass and glass, the sophisticated world of luxury design can sometimes be fatiguing, and a little “seen that, done that.” But Lee Broom is a good storyteller beyond just the creative pieces he makes—from “drunken” side tables to chapel lighting, an acid-etched marble coffee table, crystal light bulbs and a tube that looks like a fluorescent light but actually is milled from Carrara marble. Last September during London Design Festival, the British designer created a temporary flower shop to showcase his first-ever collection of vases. He opened a grey-toned department store last year for Milan Design Week; this year, he created a mini palazzo inside a delivery van for his lighting collection, driving the “Salone del Automobile” around the neighborhoods participating in design week.

Artist David Shrigley

When he was inspired as a child to make cover art for Adam and The Ants, Brighton-based artist David Shrigley could have never predicted that he would go on to create everything from larger-than-life-sized sculptures to music videos, flags, a mascot (for Scottish Premiership football team Partick Thistle), animated shorts, to 12 different album covers for Deerhoof. In 2007 the album Worried Noodles was released, for which musicians (including David Byrne, Grizzly Bear, Hot Chip and YACHT) used Shrigley’s writing as lyrics. Between all the books, records, guitar picks and beyond, Shrigley seems to have succeeded at more mediums than many artists are brave enough to try.

Vacheron Constantin’s Artistic Director Christian Selmoni

It’s no small feat to be the oldest continuously producing watch manufacturer in the world. And while Vacheron Constantin holds this historic accolade, and can stake claim to 260 years’ worth of developments in horlogerie, the luxury Swiss watch brand continues to produce pieces that strike a balance between an illustrious past and a tech-driven future. In order to best understand how a prestige timekeeping brand creator keeps up with design and material innovation, we visited the Vacheron headquarters (designed by Bernard Tschumi) in Geneva to speak with artistic director Christian Selmoni. Accompanying the launch of the brand’s third generation Overseas collection, Selmoni shared his thoughts on design advancements, tattoos, travel and what craftsmanship means in the watch world.

Artist Alexa Meade at FORM Arcosanti

The words “live painting” invoke a couple of different images for me: a graffiti artist in the middle of the night, or even Bob Ross talking to the camera and patiently explaining a new technique. Alexa Meade, however, has made the term entirely her own. She’s ditched the easel and brought the brush to human skin, transforming breathing, moving bodies into a dimension between 2D and 3D; incorporating photography (she shoots everything herself), video and performance, too. Her unusual technique first caught our eye back in 2010, and we were able to see Meade at work recently in an equally unusual setting: the unreal music festival FORM Arcosanti, which took place in an experimental desert town in Arizona.

Images credits in respective articles