I LOVE an over-the-top office. In this era of minimalism and open floor plans, there’s been a renewed interest in “corporate kitsch,” as one Instagram account dedicated to the ‘80s-’90s eras of such design calls it. And last weekend at Art Basel, Balenciaga brought back the Power Office, courtesy of designer Harry Nuriev.
Nuriev, who was labeled “the man designing spaces for the Instagram age” by The New York Times, designed an entire collection of office furniture all engraved with the Balenciaga logo. The stand-out was absolutely the window-unit AC made out of a light-brown, hand-carved wood.
At first glance, the office pieces have traditional silhouettes, with a high-backed, ergonomic-looking chair, an unfussy coat rack, and a wooden copy machine with smooth curved corners and—my fave!—seagulls engraved on it. The warm, sunny oak used for the machine and coat rack feels like a vague childhood memory of old furniture your parents had.
The wheeled office chair is covered in plastic-coated white lace, a tribute, Nuriev told Garage, to a material he grew up with at his grandmother’s house. He also expressed a sentiment I’ve been thinking a lot about lately—in a time where beauty in design feels very accessible, ugliness feels more interesting. There is something, in fact, sexy about the ugly/traditional design we’ve cast off in recent years.
“Everything is beautiful now,” Nuriev told Garage. “Our iPhones—even shopping bags and milk bottles are beautiful. We need something ugly, because there is an ugly part inside of us and a beautiful part inside of us. There is too much beauty.”
While, apparently, the office-as-art wasn’t an official Balenciaga partnership, he did have the brand’s permission to use the logo. And considering that Demna Gvasalia’s Spring 2018 menswear collection for Balenciaga was a fun (yet authentic-looking) parody of 1980s office apparel and exaggerated, business-man-on-the-subway tailoring, Nuriev’s office was a very visually appealing extension of this theme. Bring on the Working Girl vibes!