Ox Bone, 30 1/4 x 19 3/4 x 19 3/4 in
Acquired Feb 2023
This Half Box chair is the ideal expression of Owens and Lamy’s reverence for Minimalism, combined with their taste for rare and incomparable materials. The simplicity of the chair’s geometry is a nod to the home furnishings of the iconic American artist Donald Judd, and the ivory bone feels extravagant yet sacrosanct. Ox bones have served as amulets and memento mori across a variety of cultural traditions, from the divinatory practices of Shang Dynasty China to contemporary syncretism.
Courtesy Rick Owens and the Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Born in Southern California in 1962, the acclaimed designer Rick Owens displays a demanding and singular aesthetic in fashion. He first launched his universally lauded fashion line in 1994 and his furniture design practice in 2005.
Though Owens lives and works in Paris with his partner, Michèle Lamy, the dark, minimalist style of his designs was created in the United States when he started out making bespoke furniture for his bunker-style loft in Los Angeles. Working with craftsmen of the highest caliber, he has developed a collection of pieces that express his signature style in cut, volume, and plan. His designs evoke original furniture through archetypes, and with his choice of subtle and rare materials, Owens suggests the beauty of nature and develops a contrasting palette of black and white that confirms his taste for the monochrome. He juxtaposes values to compose three-dimensional pieces that fully reflect his own style. Through fashion, design, and furniture, he cuts and shapes a transversal and global universe.
A recipient of the 2002 Perry Ellis Award for emerging talent and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 2017, Owens was also awarded the Cooper-Hewitt Design Award for fashion design, as well as the Fashion Group International Rule Breaker Award in 2007. His first museum exhibition and retrospective, chronicling over 20 years of his life's work, "Subhuman Inhuman Superhuman" opened at the Triennale di Milano in December 2017. In June 2019, Owens won the Menswear Designer of the Year Award at the 2019 CFDA Fashion Awards.
Among the most influential and beloved ready-to-wear designers of a generation, Rick Owens’s practice is as hard to summarize as it is easy to recognize. Known by the late 1990s as the “Prince of Darkness,” Owens’s avant-garde reductionism is at once austerely minimal, gothic, and punk, with a penchant for citation from the art historical to the archaic.
By his side for the past two decades of his now almost-thirty year career is his wife Michèle Lamy, who Owens first met in Los Angeles when he worked as a pattern cutter for her then sportswear brand. Beginning in the early aughts, the two have been not only a couple but a dynamic collaborative force and, since 2005, have co-created, under the Rick Owens brand, an opulent and eccentric furniture collection inspired by the ambiance of their own private homes, producing a limited number of typically-very-large objects crafted from marble, concrete, foam, leather, and alabaster, as well as various metals and woods. The two have referred to this project as “play time”—a chance to channel some of their more experimental references into uniquely utilitarian works of art. At first glance, the signature chairs and tables draw their achromatic angularity from pre-war Modernism, post-war Minimalism and Brutalism, but a closer look reveals fascinations that transcend the frankly limited scope of the Western art historical canon and consider the ways human civilization has long used materials and objects to marcate the sacred and to conjure the divine.
In fact, Modernism itself is a repository of influences that reveal a thorny, and often obscured, 20th-century European infatuation with the aesthetics of African, Meso and South American religious, ceremonial, and artistic traditions. Owens has mentioned his own interest in Josef and Anni Albers, German artists famed for their abstracted textiles and affiliations with the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College, who fell in love with pre-Columbian art on more than a dozen trips to Mexico and Latin America beginning in the 1930s. Yet for the designer, this citation is also personal. His mother—Concepción aka "Connie”—is Mexican, and he has recently begun to bring this heritage into his work, incensed by the xenophobia of Trump’s presidency. “I never really explored my Mexican-ness but the debate over a border wall made me more conscious of who I would be separated from,” he explained to i-D of his Spring/Summer 2020 show, which borrowed from Aztec regalia and mid-century Mexican design and also provided a moment for his fashion and furniture practices to overlap. “Making clothes and making furniture is kinda the same thing,” he says. “In order to be honest, it has to be autobiographical.”
On January 31, 2023, Arkive launched an acquisition round titled “Totems for the Present,” engaging in dialogue, discussion, and debate on the work of Rick Owens and Michèle Lamy. Half Box Ox Bone (2012) was considered alongside Aztec Totem 4 (2019), Plug Table Grey Marble and Black Plywood 290 cm (2017), Single Prong Camel (2016), and Curial Aluminum (2022).
After a series of votes, the community selected Half Box Ox Bone (2012) as the tenth acquisition into the collection. Core team members then worked with the Los Angeles-based Carpenters Workshop Gallery to acquire the work. Half Box Ox Bone (2012) will go on display via long-term residency at a prominent public location, as selected by the Arkive membership.
We encourage you to read further into Rick Owens, his works, and his career. To kickstart the process, please find a few selected readings and interviews below. As always, this is just the start. Apply to Arkive to continue the conversation with the community.