Karl Lagerfeld, one-time guest editor of Wallpaper*, is a fan of Cassina furniture. He’s been collecting pieces from the Italian stalwart for half a century – his first ‘order’ was the famous ‘LC4’ chaise longue by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand in the 1960s. Having lived with, laid upon, and loved, each piece he has owned, Lagerfeld was the ideal photographer for a new photobook, Cassina as seen by Karl that documents (and salutes) the brand’s 90-year history.
It’s the first time Lagerfeld has collaborated with a furniture manufacturer on a venture of this nature, where his favourite design references would ‘pose’ in front of the lens. The project was entrusted to him in 2013, alongside Gerhard Steidl. The renowned German publisher, who has been involved at every turn, printed the limited edition photos which were first shown at first in the Cassina Saint-Germain showroom during Paris Design Week, and then internationally. Now, the dynamic snaps have been stuck into a beautifully leather-bound commemorative publication by hand, imbuing it with an uncommon sense of fragility, not dissimilar to that of a treasured family photo album.
Described as an ‘anthology of haute-couture design’, Cassina as seen by Karl features pieces from Lagerfeld’s own collection, including the Le Corbusier-Jeanneret-Perriand masterwork, and the ‘Auckland’ armchair by Jean-Marie Massaud. Arranged in graphic compositions, the familiar shapes are seen as if for the first time. Chairs are stacked in colourful jumbes, bookshelves talk to each other, a table becomes the protagonist on a darkened stage. It’s a book, says Steidl, that ‘rivals Cassina’s furniture in terms of quality materials, craftsmanship and longevity.’
Indeed, Lagerfeld’s passion is punched into the pages. ‘I had never worked on this kind of project,’ he says. ‘To visually reinterpret examples of perfect design is completely new for me, and therefore stimulating, exciting even.’
The publication – which will please both furniture fans and Lagerfeld lovers – presents a rare picture of the storied aesthete as not just a designer, but a design devotee.