Richard Chai Sets Up Under the High Line
Tonight another installation grows under the High Line. Through the fall, architect Spilios Gianakopoulos and BOFFO, a noprofit arts organization, is putting on a series of one-off collaborations between comers in architecture and fashion called Building Fashion at HL23, under the highly contemporary Neil Denari-designed structure towering above the High Line. (We’ve already seen the likes of a stark module COLLECTIVE created for menswear designer Simon Spurr.) The newest installment (the fourth of five planned) pairs Snarkitecture with designer Richard Chai. “I didn’t want something that felt straightforward,” says Chai. “There’s something sentimental about clothes; I’m just trying to capture a little of that.” When he met with artist Daniel Arsham and architect Alex Mustonen, who together make up the Snarkitecture firm, he felt their vision was simpatico with his own. “A lot of Daniel’s artwork is really inspiring to me,” Chai admits.
In designing the space, which will only stand for 10 days, Arsham and Mustonen were able to flaunt the usual tedium—like building codes or considerations of permanence. “We used this very dense Styrofoam-type material that I’ve used a lot in my art,” says Arsham. “It would never last longer than a week or two. In a way it’s much closer to the way I would work in a gallery. It’s total play.”
Chai agrees. “What’s great about this material is that things can be crafted along the way,” he says. “And mistakes can be charming.”
The project is also a sort of free trial for Chai’s first standalone store. “The only other time I could do this is if I actually opened a store,” he says. “But then I might spend all this money with someone who, in the end, just didn’t get it. It could be a nightmare.” Which is why Chai wouldn’t hesitate to work with Arsham and Mustonen on the real thing. “I don’t know what their schedule is like in the next year,” says Chai, “but I’d love to work together again in the future.”
Building Fashion at HL23 presents: Richard Chai x Snarkitecture opens tonight at HL23, 504 West 24th St under the High Line. It will run though October 31.
Top image: David Smith. All others, Lexie Moreland.