Ralph Pucci is a man worth getting to know better. He an icon of contemporary design and so much more. Let's start with a tour of his showroom and move into an enlightening Q&A.
While in New York, I had the opportunity to have a delightful conversation with design icon Ralph Pucci, along with a personal tour of his swank appointment-only showroom which occupies multiple floors of a building in the Flatiron district. Ralph Pucci is a fascinating person to talk to, surprisingly modest and unassuming for the span of his accomplishments. He is an enthusiastic conversationalist, both inspiring and inspired – he clearly processes things on a heightened level, using all senses and intuition in a way that enables him to create the trends rather than follow them.
His story is interesting – In 1976 he joined his parents' mannequin repair business, and took the mannequin business to places it had never been. Ralph Pucci made mannequins into an art form, gave them life, got them gallery and museum exhibit status. He has worked with big names like Andree Putman, went into the furniture business, rubbed elbows with the likes of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, created bright futures for designers, helped countless students. Just last month he received a Kips Bay award. He is an incredibly passionate, kind and generous person. Together we will walk through the Ralph Pucci showroom, with Q&A, to give you a sense of the mind behind the incredible design.
His showroom currently exhibits the Andree Putman collection named "Time Flies," of a few iconic pieces and even some pieces that were on the drawing board before she became ill. The exhibition is a respectful nod to her talent and the many years they worked together.
The legendary French designer Andree Putman, who designed the Morgan Hotel, the interior of the French Concord, as well as, countless museums, galleries, and boutiques worldwide, designed her first mannequin for Pucci in 1985. The mannequin, "Olympian Goddess" was so successful and groundbreaking, she went on to design "the Husband" and "the Mistress." This was the beginning of a long personal and business relationship. After being asked by Andree to exclusively represent her Ecart International in the United States in 1990, Ralph found himself in the furniture business. In 2000, Andree created "6 Easy Pieces" a "timeless" furniture collection produced under license in the Pucci workshops. Ralph continues to this day to work with Studio Putman with Andree's daughter Olivia.
The "Busy Susan," one of Andree Putman's designs brought to life by Ralph Pucci and Olivia Putman, Andree's daughter.
Lighting by Ted Abramczyk
Lighting by Lianne Gold
French designer Paul Mathieu
What are your thoughts on trends, and how do they affect your design?
RP: Trends are good to know but deadly to follow. You must have your own voice. You develop this by going to museums, galleries, listening to all types of music, reading – you have to have your eyes and ears open at all times, to be a sponge for new ideas. You have to go on your gut and instincts. Have passion.
Will you please share the Jens Risom story?
RP: Jens Risom. I met Jens when he was 85 years old. He was a mid-century design icon but sort of forgotten. The lines of his furniture are very clean and simple. We agreed to bring back his classics and it has been an enormous success. Jens Risom is now a "household" name in the design world, and I am very proud of this achievement. He is a remarkable man. Elegant, sophisticated, intelligent with a strong original point of view. He just celebrated his 98th birthday. We are planning to launch another small collection of furniture sometime in 2015.